Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo

This blog was intended to express my feelings and thoughts on some matters but it is fast becoming some kinda movie review website. Nevertheless:

Yes my friends, the greatest western epic to be made by a non-American, which is also the best western epic ever. Sergio Leone's the Good, the Bad and the Ugly is now considered a classic, and I believe that an American director will never have the kind of vision that he has. This is not because of their intellect or cultural training - rather, I think it has something to do with their cultural background. I think Leone, as an Italian,  distinguishes his western (aka spaghetti western) from other westerns due to the inclusion of epic themes (war) as well as a sweeping musical score.

Now, let me put out a disclaimer: I must say that this is not your typical 'deep' movie. You won't see deep moral messages or nuanced reflections on the state of the human psyche. Rather, it is a movie that gives you pure enjoyment - the kind of enjoyment which you can't find in the bumbling special effects of the Transformers trilogy or the soapy operas that are some Harry Potter films. Rather, it succeeds to impress through brilliant characterization, a strong, attractive storyline and the inclusion of the themes of war. There are two especially memorable characters in the film that I wish to mention here:

Senor Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez, also known as The Ugly, is your simple run-off-the-mill bandit at first sight. He has no set rules that he lives by. When we are first introduced to him, he had killed, raped, pillaged, divorced, robbed, stole - simply put, every crime that you've heard of except treason was on the paper that the executor read out to a mob of fearful peasants before Tuco was hanged. Also, he tried to kill our protagonist twice - once by trying to strangle him with a rope and once by trying to walk him to death in the desert. Both scenes are equally sadistic and he relishes in it. And yet, when at last  we see him running towards his destiny - 8 bags containing $200k - with Ecstasy of Gold blasting in the background, I can't help but feel happy for this son of a bitch. He did a lot of bad things but deep down we really feel for a person whose unfortunate circumstances shaped him into what he is today. The scene with his brother and the interaction scenes with Clint Eastwood's character are to be credited for this.

The Union Captain. At the start, we were treated to scenes of Union victories and the Confederate armies retreating, but it is the Bridge Scene that carries the most gravity in the film when it comes to themes of war. It aims to show the pointlessness of conflicts, regardless of outcome. To me, that's the unofficial climax of the film. The union captain was introduced as a drunk soldier who jokes around with 'Blondie' and Tuco about things that his men were very serious about. He literally swaggers into the scene in the midst of disciplined soldiers and the onset of another melee. But then he says: 'Whoever has the most liquor to get the soldiers drunk and send them to get slaughtered, is the winner'. This is followed by him pleading the two 'civilians' to blow up the object of the melee between the two armies to stop the pointless bloodshed.  His death followed swiftly, but not before he saw his dream come into fruition - the end of the pointless melee, whereby 'so many men were wasted so badly'. As the bridge was blown up, the second part of 'fine di una spia' plays while the captain smiles trimphantly before his flame was snuffed out forever...

Yup that's it. Once again, the good, the bad and the ugly is not an arthouse film, but with all the elements of a good movie, it succeeds in impressing the viewers. It's definitely one of the best movies that I've seen in a while. Oh, and Ennio Morricone's filmscore - bloody hell, it's brilliant. Right up there with John Williams'. I'll be setting meself a new ringtone soon.

Oh, and a new quote: People who do great things normally set out to do something greater. That is perhaps the case with Sergio Leone.

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