Friday, June 27, 2008

Once Upon a Time in the West - Opening Scene

You brought two too many...

Ennio Morricone's score for Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West starts with the first notes of his well-known The Man with the Harmonica. The soundtrack music, in fact, starts with the first water drip you'll hear on this video. Close your eyes or turn away from the monitor and you'll experience a magnificent piece of sound design and composition.

Better to just watch and listen for the full effect, as the imagery is integral.

One interesting twist to this film, which is often overlooked, is in the casting. Charles Bronson, the protagonist, up to that point almost always played the bad guy. Henry Fonda, who plays one of the truly great movie villains, almost always was the good guy. Leone's Westerns often blurred or obliterated the line between hero and villain, but that's the way it draws out in this one. It was a subtle move on the director's part, I suspect to add to the cognitive dissonance and ambiguities that often permeate his films.

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