Once Upon a Time in the West. Third viewing. (First, second.) I heard a snippet of Jill’s Theme and there was no looking back. I had to watch it ASAP. One of my favorite movies, top 5 for sure. Filed under: Sergio Leone.
Once Upon a Time in the West. Welp. It’s perfect. This was my second time seeing it all the way through (my first), and I was very lucky to catch it on the big screen. Two things that stood out for me more this time around….
One, the operatic heightening. Straight out of opera, each major character gets a leitmotif in the soundtrack, they’re all introduced in a different way to draw attention to their role, and they’re all pretty unambiguous archetypes: villain, hero, buffoon, hooker with heart of gold. And dang, that score.
Two, the recurring hints about time. The movie opens with a shot of a rail schedule, then shifts to a comically, absurdly extended introduction marked by dripping water and creaking windmills. The anxious father who wants to be ready for his beloved’s arrival. Watches checked, appointments made. A capitalist who wants to reach the Pacific coast before his death. A railroad station that must be built on a deadline. Fancy clocks in the financier’s railcar. The clockface in town during a shoot-out. And battles that the hero faces are a sort of countdown: three assassins, then two, then one.
Once Upon a Time in the West. It’s awesome. One of the most satisfying stories you’ll come across, from the opening title sequence to the very end. Like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, I’d seen and enjoyed most of this movie before, but this was the first time I’d set aside time for the whole thing in one focused sitting. It’s long, sure, but most definitely worth watching a few times.