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-   -   Once Upon a Time in the West (http://forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?t=1810737)

Trsvis_Bickle 25-03-2013 12:12

Once Upon a Time in the West
 
I know we've got a Westerns thread already running but I saw this on the big screen yesterday (Watershed in Bristol if you're interested) and I still can't work out whether it's a masterpiece or two and a half hours of pretentiousness.:confused:

The landscapes and cinematography are beautiful, of course and the score truly amazing but are there just too many lingering close-ups and long stretches when nothing happens? The opening scene with the 3 guys waiting at the train station goes on and on, yet a key plot element when Cheyenne escapes from the train taking him to jail and he and his men shoot up Morton's train isn't shown at all.

Anyone else familiar with this film and has some thoughts to share? I know it's acknowledged as one of the great westerns and I like the western genre. Am I missing something?

sheila blige 25-03-2013 13:34

Quote:

Originally Posted by Trsvis_Bickle (Post 64980126)
I know we've got a Westerns thread already running but I saw this on the big screen yesterday (Watershed in Bristol if you're interested) and I still can't work out whether it's a masterpiece or two and a half hours of pretentiousness.:confused:

The landscapes and cinematography are beautiful, of course and the score truly amazing but are there just too many lingering close-ups and long stretches when nothing happens? The opening scene with the 3 guys waiting at the train station goes on and on, yet a key plot element when Cheyenne escapes from the train taking him to jail and he and his men shoot up Morton's train isn't shown at all.

Anyone else familiar with this film and has some thoughts to share? I know it's acknowledged as one of the great westerns and I like the western genre. Am I missing something?

I'm familiar with the film and I don't rate it that highly either. IMO its OK but no more no less (and I found it too long as well). Mind you - I've watched TGTBATU several times and I don't see what the fuss is there either. The reason I watched it several times was I had a thing for Clint Eastwood in my youth and watched every film of his at least half-a-dozen times. I watched TGTBATU more recently with a more open mind and was bored stiff! For A Few Dollars More however was a different story - excellent from start to finish.

For me though - no western is as good as The Wild Bunch - I just wish I'd had the chance to see it on the big screen.

roger_50 25-03-2013 13:53

It' the best western ever made and probably my favourite film of all time.

It's pretty easy to fill in the gaps regarding Cheyenne's activities, plus it's nice to not be shown everything in explicit detail. Leaves a little room for the audience to think about things.

quirkyquirk 25-03-2013 14:25

Quote:

Originally Posted by sheila blige (Post 64981272)
I'm familiar with the film and I don't rate it that highly either. IMO its OK but no more no less (and I found it too long as well). Mind you - I've watched TGTBATU several times and I don't see what the fuss is there either. The reason I watched it several times was I had a thing for Clint Eastwood in my youth and watched every film of his at least half-a-dozen times. I watched TGTBATU more recently with a more open mind and was bored stiff! For A Few Dollars More however was a different story - excellent from start to finish.

For me though - no western is as good as The Wild Bunch - I just wish I'd had the chance to see it on the big screen.

Completely agree with this.Don't get the love for Once Upon A Time in The West or The Good,The Bad and The Ugly.Both have great music and scenery but move way too slowly for me.I'm one of the biggest Clint fans there is which is another problem with TGTBATU for me.There's many sequences that he's not in or not doing anything.For A Few Dollars More is another story.I find that completely underrated and I can watch it over and over again.Never seen The Wild Bunch so I can't say.

MrGiles2 25-03-2013 22:18

Although I enjoy watching this movie, like some of you, I did find it slow. Nevertheless, what makes the movie is the music composed by Ennio Morricone. It is one of the finest movie scores ever composed for a western, and without this magnificent score, the movie would be nothing.

roger_50 25-03-2013 22:26

Quote:

Originally Posted by MrGiles2 (Post 64992114)
without this magnificent score, the movie would be nothing.

Nothing?

The score adds to the wonderful script and Leone's sublime direction, and they come together perfectly. Even if it had a lesser score, it would still be my favourite western.

gemma-the-husky 25-03-2013 23:13

get the special edition version, with DVD commentary, and you will see this in a whole new light.

gemma-the-husky 25-03-2013 23:15

OUATITW
Unforgiven
Shane
TGTBATU

I am not so keen on High Noon, but if these 4 don't do it for you, it's hard to think which Westerns will.

Alrightmate 26-03-2013 00:47

Quote:

Originally Posted by roger_50 (Post 64992330)
Nothing?

The score adds to the wonderful script and Leone's sublime direction, and they come together perfectly. Even if it had a lesser score, it would still be my favourite western.

To be slightly anal I thought I'd bring up the point that with this film in particular, the script adds to the score.
The reason why I say this is because Sergio Leone stated that with this film he built the film around the score composed by Ennio Morricone which came first.

The two are tightly intertwined. To answer the other poster above who said that this film would be nothing without the score. Technically that may be right as the film is built around the score and possibly wouldn't even exist without it. Or at least it would possibly be an entirely different film altogether. It wasn't a case of adding some general music to the film. It was done more the other way around. Made as much like an opera as it was a film.

Alrightmate 26-03-2013 01:00

Whoops, wrong thread.
I need to be posting this in the other Western thread.:o

Vol 26-03-2013 01:19

I personally think OUATITW is way too long. As the OP says, you could easily shave off an hour's worth of lingering close up shots/ridiculously long pauses between dialogue etc and have a vastly improved film imo.

I must admit, whenever I do decide to watch this film I do it mainly for the score...

Trsvis_Bickle 26-03-2013 05:51

Quote:

Originally Posted by gemma-the-husky (Post 64993346)
OUATITW
Unforgiven
Shane
TGTBATU

I am not so keen on High Noon, but if these 4 don't do it for you, it's hard to think which Westerns will.

I'd rate Shane and High Noon as the 2 best westerns ever made and Unforgiven is the best of the later westerns, so it's not a problem finding stuff to 'do it' for me. I like some of Leone's other pasta offerings but I can't really connect with Once Upon a Time in the West.

duckymallard 26-03-2013 07:13

Saw an interview with Sergio Leone some years back, where he explained the long opening sequence.

He wanted to maximize the "Holy Shit - it's Henry Fonda!" impact on the audience.

gemma-the-husky 26-03-2013 07:43

Quote:

Originally Posted by duckymallard (Post 64995706)
Saw an interview with Sergio Leone some years back, where he explained the long opening sequence.

He wanted to maximize the "Holy Shit - it's Henry Fonda!" impact on the audience.

which wouldn't mean much if you didn't know much about Fonda.

mind you, he was also a bit of a baddy" (with redeeming deatures) in Warlock as well, which is another good Western.

roger_50 26-03-2013 14:08

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alrightmate (Post 64994491)
To be slightly anal I thought I'd bring up the point that with this film in particular, the script adds to the score.
The reason why I say this is because Sergio Leone stated that with this film he built the film around the score composed by Ennio Morricone which came first.

The two are tightly intertwined. To answer the other poster above who said that this film would be nothing without the score. Technically that may be right as the film is built around the score and possibly wouldn't even exist without it. Or at least it would possibly be an entirely different film altogether. It wasn't a case of adding some general music to the film. It was done more the other way around. Made as much like an opera as it was a film.

Actually no, I'm pretty sure Bertoluci and co. had the script mostly done before the soundtrack.

It was just that Leone had Morricone complete the score before the filming started - so it could be played to the actors and crew and he could time the scenes correctly (instead of having to do too much post-editing). Any alterations based on the soundtrack would have been relatively minor/adhoc and the overall story and dialogue were generally as they were originally. At least, that's always been my understanding of it - that any changes would have been subtle.

The script is its own entity however you look at it. It's qualities and main narrative drive would 100% remain with a weaker score.

Alrightmate 26-03-2013 20:45

Quote:

Originally Posted by roger_50 (Post 65000357)
Actually no, I'm pretty sure Bertoluci and co. had the script mostly done before the soundtrack.

It was just that Leone had Morricone complete the score before the filming started - so it could be played to the actors and crew and he could time the scenes correctly (instead of having to do too much post-editing). Any alterations based on the soundtrack would have been relatively minor/adhoc and the overall story and dialogue were generally as they were originally. At least, that's always been my understanding of it - that any changes would have been subtle.

The script is its own entity however you look at it. It's qualities and main narrative drive would 100% remain with a weaker score.

I didn't say that the script was based on the score. I just said the film that Sergio Leone made. All the pacing and rhythms are based on the score. As opposed to the music being placed over the top to fit with the direction.

Edit: No, actually after reading my own post above I did say script after all.:o I should have just said 'film' or 'shooting script'. My mistake.
I disagree with you however about the narrative drive remaining intact 100%, as I believe that would be down to the subjective choices of the director for the most part and how they want to adapt the script to film.
Otherwise films made by certain directors wouldn't be stylistically distinguishable from films made by other directors.

Alrightmate 26-03-2013 20:46

Quote:

Originally Posted by gemma-the-husky (Post 64995818)
which wouldn't mean much if you didn't know much about Fonda.

mind you, he was also a bit of a baddy" (with redeeming deatures) in Warlock as well, which is another good Western.

At the time it was made audiences would.

balthasar 29-03-2013 12:00

Well the way three men wait at the station pulls you into the story.

StrmChaserSteve 29-03-2013 16:36

let ze muzik do the talking. omg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s0-wbXC3pQ

put yer hands up for Harmonica

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL-X53ze5O0

sheila blige 29-03-2013 21:25

Quote:

Originally Posted by gemma-the-husky (Post 64995818)
which wouldn't mean much if you didn't know much about Fonda.

mind you, he was also a bit of a baddy" (with redeeming deatures) in Warlock as well, which is another good Western.

I loved his turn from law-enforcer with a heart to 'Sod it - if you can't beat'em - join'em' in "There Was A Crooked Man" ... wonderful film with Fonda and Kirk Douglas at their best!

Speak-Softly 01-04-2013 04:02

OP

It's a masterpiece and yes, you are missing something.:p:D

The Ambassador 01-04-2013 05:15

Not just the best western, but the best film I've ever seen.

PompeyBill 01-04-2013 10:01

Quote:

Originally Posted by gemma-the-husky (Post 64995818)
which wouldn't mean much if you didn't know much about Fonda.

mind you, he was also a bit of a baddy" (with redeeming deatures) in Warlock as well, which is another good Western.

Fonda was one of the best known actors around at the time, and renowned for playing all round 'good guys', which was why his appearance as the out and out villain of the movie was such a big deal.

DirtyBarrySpeed 01-04-2013 11:56

Good western but for me it was just too long. A lot of standing around acting like the coolest cat in the room type moments.

Ian Aberdon 04-04-2013 12:41

The opening scene to me did draw you into the film, and a sense of 'being there' waiting for the train. Everything from the general vista to the tumbleweed train station to the squeaky wind vane added to the anticipation, for me anyway.

They were only on for the opening scene, but Jack Elam, Woody Strode & Al Mullock (the scenes we saw him in before he sadly took his own life) were played with suitable menace.

"Looks like...looks like we're shy (of) one horse"

"You took two too many"

:D


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