Thursday, July 16, 2015

Once Upon a Time in the West Review

"People scare better when they're dying."

The harmonica. Growing up, despite so many different artists utilizing the instrument, I associated its sound with Bob Dylan. "Like a Rolling Stone". "Tangled Up in Blue". "Desolation Row". "Positively 4th Street". "Shelter From the Storm". Even at its most jarring, even when the lyrics were illustrating a morose existence, it was a sound that I found soothing. I remember the long drives to our cabin, hours away from home, waking up way too early, my eyes barely able to comprehend the version of dawn that surrounded me. Real but surreal. I would lay my head down but rarely could I sleep. I just wanted comfort. Everything about Bob and his harmonica felt right.

Harmonica. Charles Bronson. When he plays, it's unsettling. Ominous. The sound gave me chills. Just thinking about it gives me chills. Uncomfortable in the best possible way.

After only a few minutes of Once Upon a Time in the West, I leaned forward in my seat and one thought went through my mind.

Fuck. It's perfect.

Now to be clear, this wasn't my first rodeo with the Sergio Leone masterpiece but any real familiarity with the work was absent nonetheless. So many years ago at such a different time in my life, the last time I laid eyes on this wonder. A previous Scott that couldn't have comprehended the brilliance on display. A previous Scott that would have been distracted by the minutiae of adolescence. A previous Scott that wouldn't have truly felt the sound of a harmonica played by anyone but Dylan. That was the guy who watched Once Upon a Time in the West, and thus everything felt new and exciting and inspiring with this revisit. 

Watching this and his gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America within two days of each other really opened my eyes to the genius of the man in charge. Sergio. His craft is astonishing. I can't believe I spent so much time either avoiding or not fully appreciating the work he did, the impact he had on cinema. 

I can't stop thinking about these memorable characters and the sublime way they are handled through both the magnificent Leone lens and the top notch screenplay, with even the most seemingly unimportant line flowing perfectly. Frank, played by Henry Fonda. Jason Robards as Cheyenne. The beautiful Claudia Cardinale as Jill McBain, and of course Harmonica. Charles Bronson. Iconic. Chills.

Speaking of being iconic and giving me chills, did I mention the musical score by the legendary Ennio Morricone?

Once Upon a Time in the West is a magnificent film and quite possibly the greatest achievement of the western genre. 

Fuck. It's perfect.


No comments:

Post a Comment