In Sergio Leone's epic Western, shot partly in Monument Valley, a revenge story becomes an epic contemplation of the Western past. To get his hands on prime railroad land in Sweetwater, crippled railroad baron Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti) hires killers, led by blue-eyed sadist Frank (Henry Fonda), who wipe out property owner Brett McBain (Frank ...
In Sergio Leone's epic Western, shot partly in Monument Valley, a revenge story becomes an epic contemplation of the Western past. To get his hands on prime railroad land in Sweetwater, crippled railroad baron Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti) hires killers, led by blue-eyed sadist Frank (Henry Fonda), who wipe out property owner Brett McBain (Frank Wolff) and his family. McBain's newly arrived bride, Jill (Claudia Cardinale), however, inherits it instead. Both outlaw Cheyenne (Jason Robards) and lethally mysterious Harmonica (Charles Bronson) take it upon themselves to look after Jill and thwart Frank's plans to seize her land. As alliances and betrayals mutate, it soon becomes clear that Harmonica wants to get Frank for another reason -- it has "something to do with death." As in his "Dollars" trilogy, Leone transforms the standard Western plot through the visual impact of widescreen landscapes and the figures therein. At its full length, Once Upon a Time in the West is Leone's operatic masterwork, worthy of its legend-making title. Lucia Bozzola, Rovi
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From the first frame, the viewer's senses of sight and sound will be completely captivated. The sound is heightened so that every click, every drip of water, every movement is amplified to meet the absorbing visual imagery on the screen.
This is a morality tale of good and evil forces, with good not having an unqualified victory in the end. Henry Fonda is the all-out evil one, with Jason Robards and Charles Bronson in that grey area inbetween. Claudia Cardinale is the woman who arrives to marry a 'good man' and finds only his body and those of his family. And so this extraordinary film rolls forward into a faultless 'assault' of the senses.
The director, Sergio Leone, gets a satisfyingly perfect performance from each of his major players, with drawn-out close-ups on sunburnt, fleshy faces, while he uses music : (a wonderful main theme of eleven notes on a banjo is one memorable leitmotif), and the haunting harmonica of the character Harmonica (Charles Bronson) to give the feeling of a deserted wasteland where the law is absent.
Everything is geared to feel larger than life - a giant world of simmerintg violence, greed and retribution. This amazing film is truly perfection.