ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE
WEST aka C'ERA UNA VOLTA IL WEST
UK: BFI Collections
Cast: Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson, Gabriele Ferzetti, Paolo Stoppa, Woody Strode, Jack Elam, Keenan Wynn, Frank Wolff, Lionel Stander
Director: Sergio Leone
Countries: Italy / USA
Language: Italian (English subtitles)
UK: 168 mins
UK Release Date: 24 July 2009 (Limited Re-release)
UK Release Date: 14 April 2000
Sergio Leone spent months watching classic Westerns with Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argente. Then he asked Sergio Donati to help transform their treatment - a mosaic of hallowed movie moments, held together by a simple story about water rights in the desert - into a brilliantly choreographed elegy on American myths (Once upon a time') and grown-up historical reality ('in the West). The Italian title translates as 'Once Upon A Time There Was The West'.
From the opening sequences, and their balletic re-mixes of moments from HIGH NOON, SHANE, PURSUED AND THE SEARCHERS, to the climax inspired by John Ford's THE IRON HORSE, this Western dance of death is ' not so much a series of citations for citation's sake, as a collision between worn-out stereotypes of the West and the new, pitless era which was advancing across the continent '. Henry Fonda plays a sadistic killer, Charles Bronson an avenger with no name, Jason Robards a romantic bandit and Claudia Cardinale a prostitute/earth mother. All of Ennio Morricone's main musical themes were written in advance, and played on the set ' to create rhythms'. The ultimate horse opera.