Friday, May 12, 2017


Once Upon a Time in the West is a film directed and co-written by Sergio Leone, who is also responsible for the Dollars Trilogy which contains A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Leone is an Italian film director, writer and producer, famous for the Spaghetti Western genre. The term "Spaghetti Western" was coined from the success of western films made by Italian filmmakers, Sergio Leone being the epicenter of the foundation of this genre.

Once Upon a Time in the West is a film made in 1968 and could be described as an Epic Spaghetti Western. The film stars Charles Bronson as Harmonica, Henry Fonda as an against type antagonist Frank, and Claudia Cardinale as Jill McBain, and is regarded by many film fans and critics as one of the greatest films to ever be made. That is no exaggeration as this film is absolutely brilliant.

Let’s start with the cinematography. Every shot is perfectly timed to be able to draw the most emotion of the viewer. The extreme close ups are never over utilized and in fact are used in moments that create almost perfect suspense. I really feel like cinematography, editing, and score always need to be in perfect sync for a film to really excel visually. This film does that perfectly. The score displays the characters and the atmospheres emotion to the point where you start to perfectly understand each and every character. The editing perfectly times certain character moments to make the story that much more excited and unpredictable. The editing also choses the shots and the timings of each shot so brilliantly that, as an audience member, you can only watch in awe of how perfect so many scenes are.

Now let’s move on to the actors and the characters they portray. Charles Bronson plays Harmonica. I truly feel like what he did so well is make you interested in what his character really was all about, as throughout the film you don’t get a lot of information about his character. He needed to be more physical than emotional so that when we do finally get the reveal of his backstory it makes us as the audience understand his character that much more. Henry Fonda plays the antagonist Frank. What Henry Fonda brought to Frank was a layer of charm while being frightening at the same time. When the character speaks, you always want to listen, but you’re also on edge as he can be extremely quick. I really appreciated the subtle character details we got through the interactions between Frank and Morton, but I won’t go into it as that would enter into spoiler territory. The whole cast did a spectacular job, but the last actor I want to talk about is Claudia Cardinale who plays Jill McBain. What’s so brilliant about her character is that she starts off appearing to be a typical clich├ęd character, but the film shows us that she is anything but that. At one point she says “You don’t look at all like the noble defender of poor, defenseless widows, but then again, I don’t look like a poor, defenseless widow…” The dialogue that Jill delivers really explains her character well. It’s also what makes her so incredibly interesting.

With that all being said, Sergio Leone deserves the most credit. Every aspect of the film synced perfectly and there is no one else to credit for that but him. You can tell from watching the film that he really spent the time to craft each frame with his cinematographer, each piece of dialogue and each scene with his co-writer, spent the time crafting the perfect aesthetic with his art director, and making sure the score perfectly explains the mood of every moment. Overall, while I feel like typically I need time before deciding if a film is in fact a masterpiece, this film doesn’t need it. It truly is one of the best films ever made.

Khizer's Score: 10/10

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