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Review Blog

Once Upon a Time in the West

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on September 5, 2010 at 6:41 PM


Sergio Leone


IDEA:   A widow finds help from an outlaw and a mysterious harmonica player after a ruthless gang slaughters her husband and family.

BLURB:   Leone’s illustrious western masterpiece is, in every way, larger than life. Colossal desert landscapes ablaze under a heavy sun, close-ups of rugged faces that turn little men into paramount mythic icons, choreographed gun fights that devour the screen as Ennio Morricone’s strings pound away furiously in adherence; these are the elements of an epic orchestral movement in full command under a master composer. It is a film of brash vigor and bold drama, a constantly heightened experience of chill-inducing showmanship that is cut and shot in ways that put you in awe of its undaunted resilience. Scene after scene is filled with immortal images that sear into your brain, flies, dustcoats, pistols, harmonicas, trains, tracks, boots, and vengeance, meeting in bloody union for an unforgettable crescendo that settles personal scores and puts forward hope of a new West. The characters collide and disperse as the old lawless wild takes its last stand, pulling up to reveal a freshly shimmering town in the midst of construction. Renewal, and redemption, tie up Once Upon a Time in the West and land it among the greatest examples of the cinematic form.


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