Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)


A newlywed arrives to find her adoptive family murdered and makes an alliance with a bandit and a mysterious drifter to unite against their killer.

Sergio Leone’s “dance of death” is probably his most artistic film; what doesn’t happen on screen is just as important as what does. It is almost an examination of a difference in the mindset of the sexes. The only female protagonist, played by Claudia Cardinale, is the only one who truly embraces life and is willing to do whatever it takes to survive. Jason Robards’ bandit, Charles Bronson’s revenge driven gunman and Henry Fonda’s steely-eyed assassin not only expect death, but almost welcome it. This film is not about a bullet-riddled slam bang finale; it’s about a series of events and circumstances leading up to a single point in time and is all the more powerful for it. Reeking atmosphere and tension, Leone’s visuals have never been better and Fonda who is the true central character of the film is perfectly cast against type, his piercing blue eyes almost the opposite of Bronson’s emotionless slits.

The soundtrack is perhaps a little heavy-handed in places and the 2hr 40min running time may seem a little daunting to some, but it’s the perfect western for people who prefer them art house rather than action packed.


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