26 September 2011

(1966) The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Director Sergio Leone knows how to capture an audience even without producing a sound. His 1966 film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly opens without a spoken word for the first 10 minutes. The only sounds are those of advancing feet, gun shots, and galloping hooves. This peculiar but intense beginning sets the tone for the remainder of the movie.

Clint Eastwood plays "the Good" bandit known as Blondie. This lone-star gunman discovers Tuco, the Ugly bandit fleeing from bounty hunters who want to turn him in for reward money. In a grand scheme, Blondie and Tuco pair up and manage to trick multiple towns into coughing up reward money for Tuco's many crimes. In the process, they are constantly trying to back stab each other in an attempt to take all of the accumulated reward money. Meanwhile, the Bad bandit known as Angel Eyes is on the hunt for a man hiding under the pseudonym Bill Carson who knows the location of 200,000 dollars worth of confederate gold. In a bizarre encounter with Bill Carson, Blondie and Tuco are each given two vital pieces of information regarding where the treasure is buried. Each needing the other person's information, they decide to form a partnership and search for the treasure together; but complications arise when Angel Eyes captures them and coerces them into finding the money for himself. The three bandits get caught in a battle to outsmart, out-manipulate, and out-kill the other while trying to attain the prized $200,000 in gold. Because this film takes place during the American Civil War, the bandits are constantly intertwined with soldiers, battles, and prison camps, which only compliments the violent and brutal life in the deserts of the West.

This movie thrives on historical mise en scene by illustrating a correct portrait of life in the wild West. The towns are dry and desolate, and the people are mangy and untrustworthy. The only real values in this particular lifestyle revolve around gunslingers, money, and booze. The scenery changes between barren plains, ghost towns, and deserts, which blend together to form the antique and jaded colors the wild West is famous for. The conglomeration of rusty carriages, abandoned wheels, saloon doors, and stetsons convince the viewers that they really are included in the western life. In addition, the separate regiments representing the Union and the Confederacy are a vital addition to this movie. The battle sequences favor old, rustic canons and bayonets. Even the stretchers used to carry off wounded soldiers appropriately reflects the time period.

These so-called "spaghetti westerns" are renowned for their iconic portrayal of the mysterious lone star and his weapon. In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, guns are not simply an objective prop. While they may be used for a common function, these props symbolize a certain kind of lifestyle - one that thrives on violence, mystery, self-interest, and a bad ass nature. A man is defined by his skill with a gun. Without his weapon, a man has nothing to live by. This proves true when Tuco catches Blondie and takes away his gun. Blondie is forced to wander aimlessly in the desert and has very little chance of surviving. In addition, during the final duel Tuco discovers that his weapon is unloaded. Because of this, he is now entirely vulnerable and must now abide by Blondie's commands. Without their guns, the bandits feel incomplete and exposed. In addition, this film allots cigarettes an enormous amount of significance. It is notable that Blondie only lights up when he is contemplating, planning, or double-crossing. His cigarette is equated to success, and he perfects the role of a mysterious and rebellious gunman when he consistently sparks the matches using his fingers.

The mise-en-scene in this film is unlimited, and the cinematography is even more astounding. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is an epic film noted for its acting, scenery, and plot. It was an extremely enjoyable movie and I recommend it to anyone.

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