Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) 4.52/5 (3)


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Rating: The Good – 95.7
Genre: Western
Duration: 175  mins
Director: Sergio Leone
Stars: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale

Sergio Leone’s meta-western was the first true revisionist western. The man with no name is not Clint but Bronson and he’s not as much a man as he is the embodiment of a dying breed of men and the western genre itself. The plot is inconsequential as it is merely a vehicle for Leone, Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Sergio Donati to anthologise and meta-analyse the genre, celebrate its glory, and lament what they saw as its inevitable demise. But what a vehicle it is. From the beginning of the first reel, Leone is reaching into our psyches, tantalising us with familiar shots and references to half-remembered images from the westerns of yesteryear. He scales the story both wide and narrow, subverting our expectations (“that was Henry Fonda right?”), deconstructing mythology, and employing the most audacious yet subtly appropriate use of metaphor in the history of the medium (he got up!). And all this ticks along to Ennio Morrincone’s spell-binding score, themed perfectly to the four main characters played memorably by Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, Henry Fonda, and Claudia Cardinale.

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4 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)”

  1. It may be an experimental film that uses metaphors in an ‘audacious’ way, but I found it to be overly long and a touch too slow. I loved it in the end though 🙂 Great review! I never really thought of the film that way.

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