Write descriptive essay about Once Upon a Time in the West movie 1968, write an essay of at least 500 words on Once Upon a Time in the West, 5 paragraph essay on Once Upon a Time in the West, definition essay, descriptive essay, dichotomy essay.
Once Upon a Time in the West
USA, Italy, Spain
IMDB rating:
Sergio Leone
Henry Fonda as Frank
Claudia Cardinale as Jill McBain
Jason Robards as Cheyenne
Charles Bronson as Harmonica
Gabriele Ferzetti as Morton (railroad baron)
Woody Strode as Stony - Member of Frank's Gang
Jack Elam as Snaky - Member of Frank's Gang
Keenan Wynn as Sheriff (auctioneer)
Frank Wolff as Brett McBain
Storyline: Story of a young woman, Mrs. McBain, who moves from New Orleans to frontier Utah, on the very edge of the American West. She arrives to find her new husband and family slaughtered, but by whom? The prime suspect, coffee-lover Cheyenne, befriends her and offers to go after the real killer, assassin gang leader Frank, in her honor. He is accompanied by Harmonica, a man already on a quest to get even.
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'Man with no name' but with revenge, a loaded gun and a harmonica
It might be a sacrilege to call this a better Spaghetti Western than 'The Good, the bad, and the Ugly' but i loved both the films equally. The mellifluous soundtrack by Ennio Morricone further adds to the greatness of the movie.

Jason Robards provides the much needed humor in the film.

Frank(Henry Fonda) and gang kill all the MacBains. Frank fakes evidence and makes everyone believe Cheyenne's hand behind the heinous crime. Frank's activities are funded by an affluent owner of the train company, Mr.Morton. The secret idea was to grab the land the MacBains live on, which could fetch them millions of dollars.

Their plans are thwarted by the arrival of a certain Mrs.MacBain, who refuses to sell the property to Frank, and a man who goes around playing harmonica. The man is after Frank to avenge his brother's death and with the help of Cheyenne, they bring his plans down one by one. They slowly decimate Frank's manpower, then take hold of the land through auction and then put a bullet in Frank's body. The man however doesn't wait for the bounty and leaves the town after accomplishing what he had come for. Cheyenne dies after being shot by a dying Mr.Morton and Mrs.MacBain decides to stay in the town and watch MacBains' town build and grow.
Long, Thoughtful, and Beautiful
One of the best western's ever made, with fantastic directing, acting, and beautiful scenery, Once Upon a Time in the West is a true classic. The story has four characters coming together on a plot of land where a now dead owner was going to build a town around a rail station. From there, the violence ramps up toward a slow, wonderful conclusion.

It has pretty much all the classic staples of a western. Despite not being as action-packed as most movies these days, the long portions of quiet and beautiful scenery give us a sense of the west and leave us wanting more. It's rare that a director can make such a quiet, dream-like film that leaves the viewer wanting to be part of that world.

Beautiful, serene, and overall excellent, Once Upon a Time in the West is a grand film.
Is ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST a stunningly beautiful western saga or overblown, pretentious horse opera? Take your pick; you'd be right either way. What else but self-indulgent can you call an opening scene which runs ELEVEN AND A HALF MINUTES and ends with its principal players dead? John Ford could made a 90 minute movie from this thin script. Howard Hawks might have added a few action flourishes and come in at 105. Instead, Leone has given you ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-FIVE minutes, several scenes which run in excess of five minutes and what has to be most beautifully photographed western in motion picture history. Leone milks every ounce of drama from the meager story of the coming of the railroad to the future town of Sweetwater and its effects on the principal players.

Leone matches his cinematic skill with his ingenious casting. Henry Fonda has never been better than as the 'evil as a snake' Frank. As Jill, the movie's central character, Claudia Cardinale uses her expressive face to provide the perfect landscape for Leone's frequent close-ups. Jason Robards, Jr. is surprisingly perfect as the 'Bogart-tough-but-lovable' Cheyenne. Gabriele Ferzetti provides the slick, oily but decadent railroad baron just the right touches of class, crass and ruthlessness. At first, Charles Bronson, as 'Harmonica,' seems the only casting misstep. As Fonda's chief adversary, Bronson never seems up to the task, artistically or otherwise. However, upon reflection, this unequal match now seems to be deliberate on Leone's part, to generate the necessary suspense to keep audience attention to the very end of this overlong masterpiece. Not enough can be said to praise Ennio Morricone's evocative, operatic score, or the other technical credits. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is not simply a triumph of style over substance. In the end style has BECOME substance, etching the characters permanently into our memory. While lacking their dramatic depth, Leone brought to the cinema the same kind of visual splendor as Orson Welles and David Lean.

Trans-genre, highly influenced and influential, vengeance narrative
Normally I'm suspicious of Westerns, mostly because I really don't like the Cowboys and Indians sub-genre and I'm not very keen on the expansionist themes inherent in most Westerns, stated or otherwise. Like any genre, however, there are exceptions, and of course Once Upon a Time in the West is one of them. Sergio Leone creates a methodical, tension-rising piece of vengeance narrative set in the hard-grit reality of the West, featuring gorgeous vistas, compellingly brown-faced gunslingers, and a surprisingly unique rocking score by Ennio Morricone.

Four people arrive in a small town in one day. The first is a mysterious stranger later dubbed "Harmonica" because of his token entrance cue and prominent instrument playing, a man searching for a one "Frank." The other is Frank himself, psychotic yet conniving muscle-man of a railroad emperor, out to gain his own business prospects and kill a few men, women, and children in the process. The third is handsome Cheyenne, rascal bandit of the old-school type who has his honor but also his history. And the fourth, and most important, is Jill McBain, ex-prostitute from New Orleans come to a wedding destroyed by cause of death of the groom, who has to learn how to protect her own interests in an outlaw world of grit and steel as the three men connive over the various things they want from her.

Leone takes his time, building relationships like Kurosawa and allowing the camera to just soak in the imagery like his contemporary and script-writer, Dario Argento. Leone is famous for his "spaghetti westerns", Italian takes on what is quintessentially an American-themed genre, but he shows an awareness, respect, and even joy for the type of imagery and action that the genre creates. Furthermore, he sees the isolation as key--this vengeance narrative could not exist in the vigilante-style of a city, nor in a much more temperate climate, much less could the characters really grasp and engage with each other the same way had they closer connections. In a way, heck, one could consider this film something of a horror film, as the unknown (the motivations of Harmonica) drives anxiety and tension to an ultimate moment of revelation that stabs right for the gut. So fine, compare Leone to Hitchcock, too.

A western for everyone
There is no shortage of reviews here proclaiming Once Upon a Time in the West as the greatest western ever. They may very well be right. The beauty of this film is its almost universal appeal. The cinematography and musical score alone would allow this film to stand even without a plot. But there are enough reviews here that read like film class dissertations, let me just hit on a few of my favorite aspects of the movie and offer a general recommendation.

As I mentioned before, the visual aspect of this film is so rich that it risks overpowering the film's other aspects. If you've seen other Leone films (then I can't imagine you not having seen this one), then you will recognize many of his characteristic camera angles and close-up shots. The two most striking examples of this for me was the revelation of Fonda's character (Frank) and the close-up zoom on Harmonica's (Bronson) eyes before the final showdown. Sure it sounds like stock Leone camera work, but I think that in this movie he incorporates set and scenery much more fluidly and completely with his camera tricks than compared with the Dollars trilogy. And while writing about the opening scene seems like a spoiler to me, let me just say that if you have any patience at all, you will be rewarded well to sit through it quietly with the sound set at the loudest bearable level.

I've mentioned Leone's Dollars trilogy multiple times already. For those who don't know, it consists of his first three (and genre-creating) Spaghetti Westerns: "Fistful of Dollars", "For a Few Dollars More", and "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly". My recommendation is to watch these movies, if you haven't already, before seeing Once Upon a Time in the West. This isn't necessary of course, the movie easily stands on its own. But the Dolars movies seem to build off the previous ones in a way that enhances each sequential viewing. The first three movies will condition you towards Leone's film making and style, which, while totally groundbreaking and rewarding, may be a bit of an overload to the uninitiated trying to sit down and view all 2hrs 45mins of Once Upon a Time. Viewing the other movies first will also allow you to appreciate what this film is not: another Dollars movie. Oh, and speaking of running time, I don't know if it's even possible to find the studio-butchered original American release running, but do yourself a favor and make sure you rent or buy the full-length, letterboxed DVD with 5.1 Dolby Surround.
Greatest Western Movie of All Time
The title of this would sum it all up! The main reason this is the best Western of all time is simply because of Henry Fonda. I'd place him in the top 10 of All-Time Greatest Movie Villains because of his role as Frank. I'm not a big fan of Charles Bronson but he does a pretty good job in this film as well. This is one Western movie (with the exception of Leone's other films) that has both great story, action, characters, scenery, etc... Even the minor characters in this movie do great in their respective parts. Also probably one of the best directed movies of all time as well. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who likes western movies.
A Potpourri of Vestiges Review: A piquant cocktail of style and substance in equal parts
Once Upon a Time in the West (OUTW) is a piquant cocktail of style and substance in equal parts, potent enough to catapult the viewer into a whirlpool of incessant excitement transcending him beyond the usual realms of an adrenaline rush. Vintage Leone, OUTW is inarguably the best Western ever made and undoubtedly features amongst the very best works of cinema, period. Leone incredibly surpasses the brilliance of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (TGTBTU) with OUTW by blending his favorite theme of Greed with that of Revenge. The only thing that TGTBTU lacked was the presence of a strong female character and Leone more than makes up for it in OUTW. Its eccentric yet consummate plot revolves around a female protagonist, thereby revolutionizing the very tenets associated with the genre where machismo and chivalry had solely held sway, hitherto.

OUTW is a juxtaposition of the lives of five individuals, viz. Harmonica - a mysterious stranger, Cheyenne – a notorious desperado, Frank – a ruthless assassin, Jill – a beautiful widow with an obscure past, and Morton – a railroad baron, whose motives inevitably make them cross each other's paths albeit through an act of fate.

Henry Fonda is a revelation as the cold-blooded assassin, a portrayal that is remarkably contrasting to his usual 'good guy' on-screen image. He goes about his business with a sublime touch of feral grandeur that makes him equally chilling and fascinating as 'Frank'.

Charles Bronson plays his part with utmost conviction and incredibly manages to conjure up an element of mystery in his portrayal that not only brings 'Harmonica' to life, but also gives it a very distinct identity despite Harmonica's conspicuous similarities with Eastwood's 'Man with no name'.

The role of 'Cheyenne' is played with equal brilliance by Jason Robards. He has taken care of the various subtleties and nuances to such an extent that he perfectly fits into the shoes of notorious, yet likable, 'Cheyenne'.

Claudia Cardinale is ravishing as the beautiful, yet vulnerable, 'Jill McBain'. She has fully justified the trust shown by Leone in casting her and by Bertolucci in penning down a strong feminine part in a Western. She truly entrances the viewers with her mystifying pulchritude and enigmatic charm. She meticulously highlights the flaws in Jill's character while also managing to depict the elements of tenacity and grit which represent the true spirit of femininity.

Gabriele Ferzetti is quite effective in his cameo as the crippled railroad baron, 'Morton'. He suffers from the tuberculosis of bones and each passing day brings him closer to his end, thereby further intensifying his desperate urge to fulfill his far-fetched ambition of taking the railroad to the Atlantic. He truly represents a man worthy of achieving the impossible, unfortunately cut short by his haplessness. Despite the inhuman and unjust means adopted by him to fulfill his naked ambition, one finds it excruciatingly hard to derive pleasure from his perpetual plight and eventual doom.

Contrary to the popular belief, the slow pace of the movie and laconism in dialogue pose no impediment to the viewing and in fact this deliberate pacing enormously adds to the detail and beauty of the movie, and also helps in brewing the desired level of tension before it is finally punctuated suddenly with quick bursts of action.

Tonino Delli Colli's cinematography is vividly descriptive and has elements which have become his and Leone's trademarks like the extreme close-ups, the quick panning of the terrain, the rotating camera shots etc.

The haunting score written yet again by the master composer, Ennio Morricone enhances the grandeur of the movie tenfold. If Leone's direction and Colli's cinematography are the backbone of the movie, then undoubtedly Morricone's plaintive score is its heart and soul. The surreal score has shades of melancholy, intrigue, and romance that become more obvious with each passing moment. The music features leitmotifs (a melodic phrase that accompanies the reappearance of a character) that relate to each of the main characters (each with their own unique theme music). The soundtrack to the opening scene is a creative orchestration of ordinary sounds like that of the dripping water, the clicking of a telegraph, a buzzing fly, and the screech of a windmill after Morricone experienced a musical performance created by the medley of these sounds. This created an exaggerated version of what had come to be known as 'Spaghetti sound'.

OUTW is a magnum opus unparalleled in direction, screenplay, cinematography and music. With its slower pace and relatively somber theme (compared to Leon's previous works), Leone managed to transform his image of a satirical showman into that of an accomplished auteur capable of producing much profound works. OUTW also served as the harbinger for Leone's surrealistic masterpiece, 'Once Upon a Time in America'.

P.S: OUTW is an absorbing masterpiece; an absolute gem of a movie and a must watch for those who understand the true meaning of 'A Timeless Masterpiece', and are willing to indulge themselves completely through the whole length of the movie. 10/10

An epic western – with all the pros and cons that come with that
As the railroad spreads western, bringing with it progress and development, the west is a changing place. The rule of gunmen is ending with the new men of power being land owners and developers. A young woman arrives in one such small town to find her new husband and family murdered by gunman Frank under the lead of a railroad developer. Meanwhile a mysterious man arrives in the town looking for Frank for some reasons. Both he and convict Manuel Gutierrez join forces to try and hold onto what remains of `their' west and deal with Frank.

From the opening ten minutes you should be able to judge whether or not this film will frustrate you or not. The opening scene is one of the best of cinema but, on paper, very little actually happens. This is what you need to carry into the film – as it is so very long there is plenty of silence and pauses. If you feel that these are unnecessary then the running time of this film will feel even longer to you. On the other hand if you, as I do, feel that the silences in this film are just as important and telling as the dialogue or action, then this film should move quite quickly.

The plot is a mix of revenge western while also looking at the death of the West associated with the American movies – the strong gunman, the frontier town etc, they exist here but are being pushed out with every frame of the film. What Leone manages to do which confounds me is he fills the film with so much silence but yet little of it brings boredom, instead the film has it's steady pace and never lets it dip into flagging but just keeps enough happening to keep things moving. I must admit that some of the deeper meaning was lost on me but still felt that the central threads of the three or four main characters were more than enough to hold my interest on their own. Of course, bits did work better than other bits but that is to be expected – I know I got more from the cat and mouse between Harmonica and Frank than I did from the relationship between Gutierrez and Jill. However these minor problems are lost in the sheer scale of the film itself.

The acting is great and some of it could be considered the actors at their best. Certainly I can't think of another role where Charles Bronson was required to do so well. Here he has to have a stone face but still give over character – he manages it and pulls off an iconic type of cool that I'd usually associate with big stars. Fonda plays very naturally as a bad guy. When I first saw this film I was quite young and hadn't seen a lot of his more famous roles, now that I have it is very strange to see him as a bad guy, but the counter casting of him does work anyway. Cardinale is a strong role but I must confess that her character was lost to me a little – this was one of the threads I was weakest on and I'll watch the film again with more focus. Support cast are all pretty good and have a few famous western faces in there.

One of the strongest parts of the film is the score. From the first time you hear that scarring harmonica you know to associate it with bitterness, likewise other parts of the score are very strong and used well. Part of it did remind me of Steptoe & Son but it still worked in it's context! The plot all goes sort of where you expect it to but we are left with the wider picture of the West of Frank coming to an end and the West of Morton moving unstoppably to replace it – the film never suggests that one is better than the other, in fact it highlights that there may be no difference at all. Meanwhile the frontier men are pushed on into a shrinking horizon.

Overall this is an epic, which means it is sweeping in scope, resulting in the occasional stretch showing. The running time is sparsely filled with dialogue which may frustrate some, however Leone has made the silence as loud as the dialogue and the actors provide him with performances that deliver so much without words at times that the time is easily eaten up. Not the most accessible western he made (simply because others are more entertaining) but still an epic and well worth three hours of anyone's time.
pure cinematic paradise
Thank god that I'm a Bronson fan. This was my first Leone movie, and dumb kid that I was, I actually watched it thinking I was in for a typical Bronson "vehicle"! Looking back I'm thankful, because if it wasn't for his involvement, I would never have discovered the beauty and majesty that is Once Upon a Time in the West.

I absolutely love this movie. It's probably my all time favourite, certainly one of the few that I can watch OVER and OVER again without losing interest. I love the way Leone creates intrigue and mystery around what is a relatively thin plot. He can make even the smallest twist of fate seem like an epic turn of events, with that amazing sense of revelation that he generates out of old hackneyed situations (something Argento has since picked up). Leone proves in this film that he could seemingly take anyone, even peripheral characters, and give them screen charisma without using dialogue as a crutch.

OUATITW features the most tense two man stand-offs ever, with some serious deja-vu in the direction of his "Dollars" trilogy. In fact, it does feel like those three movies were warm ups, practice sessions in the build up to OUATITW. Here though, he perfected everything; despite the long running time, it's all focused, and without a single irrelevant scene. For me, the two hours plus just fly by, I wish it would never end. Leone was without question at his artistic peak when he made this, that's not to say that he went downhill from then on, but I honestly don't think he ever did another film where everything came together so perfectly.

The cast is flawless. Fonda eclipsed every good guy he ever did in one fell swoop, truly chilling. Robards is a great comic character, the lovable rogue with an edge. And Cardinale is more than just (incredible) window dressing; she switches between passionate, angry, delicate and sentimental at all the right moments.

Which leaves the hero; I'm a huge Eastwood fan, but I honestly don't believe he could have done the role justice. His "man with no name" was a cool, sly character with hidden complexities. Eastwood always does these layered personalities, with some kind of mental baggage. Bronson, on the other hand, mostly does himself; simple, uncomplicated figures with only one state of mind, that's why he's put in so many revenge flicks. Plus, he looks like he's been seriously wronged at some point in his life, Eastwood doesn't have that quality. Bronson is the genuine hard-as-nails article. You can readily imagine that, had he been born decades earlier and been put in the same situation, he would resolve the problem in much the same way as his character in the movie (sometimes I affectionately refer to this movie as Deathwish part 0- could Harmonica be the great granddaddy of Paul Kersey?).

Of course the other great contribution is the music. I still think that the main theme is one of the most breathtaking pieces of music I have ever heard. It affects me deeply whenever I hear it, regardless of the mood I'm in. Maybe I should listen to more opera or something, I don't know, but that's the way I feel. And the individual character themes are just so well integrated into the film, it's unbelievable. Leone replaces words with music, and it conveys so much more in return. Bronson just plays that melancholy tune on the harmonica instead of answering people back, it consistently cracks me up.

High Noon, Naked Spur, Shane, The Searchers, etc. are all classics of the genre, but I really don't think it's possible to compare those "traditional" westerns with OUATITW. For me, it exists on a plane of it's own, it's the kind of film experience that you let wash over you, a waking dream. I recommend this movie to anyone, if you're on the right wavelength you'll be greatly rewarded.
The operatic tale of greed, lust and revenge.
Once Upon A Time In The West is directed by Sergio Leone and stars Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards & Henry Fonda. Leone co-wrote the screenplay with Sergio Donati, while the story was provided by Dario Argento and Bernardo Bertolucci. Ennio Morricone scores the music and cinematography is from Tonino Delli Colli.

After finishing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in 1966, Sergio Leone felt he had done all he wanted to do with the Western genre. Thankfully that wasn't to be the case as he was lured back into Oaterville to make the unique and quite superb C'era una volta il West in 1968. Greeted with negative reviews on its release in America, it was a financial flop. But in Europe the film was richly received and took the box offices by storm. Time has showed the film to have risen above cult status to be widely acknowledged as one of the finest Western film's of all time.

Everything about the film is bigger and bolder than previous Leone works. Opening with an almost silent ten minute sequence that has become legendary, the film follows four characters as they dovetail towards the reckoning. Harmonica (Bronson), Frank (Fonda), Jill McBain (Cardinale) & Cheyenne (Robards), all linked by death, and with each one represented in the narrative by a piece of music. Leone clinically weaves the four stories into one operatic whole. Not all of it makes perfect sense, which stops it being the masterpiece many consider it being. But its observations of Western mysticism, capitalism and progression of time; and with scores to of course be settled too, it makes for a fine story nestling in amongst the beautiful treats for the eyes and ears.

While Leone clearly homages the genre and pays tribute to the old America (you will lose count spotting the Western film steals), his film is ultimately very much a pastiche piece. But he gets away with that lack of freshness (the story at the core mirrors Johnny Guitar for example) due to the unique structure. It's meticulously paced as the characters are fleshed out to the max, sometimes even without dialogue. Smart directing as Leone makes the story more richer and weightier in substance. Morricone's score is magnificent and so is Colli's photography, with the latter's shooting of Monument Valley good enough to have featured in John Ford oeuvre. While the casting is inspiring, notably Fonda as a villain (the impact shocked many back in the day).

I can't call it a masterpiece because it does lift from many other sources, but it's darn close to being a perfect movie. One thing is for sure, that in it's uncut form the film is a work of art. Where repeat viewings keep rewarding and never dilute the enjoyment. 9/10
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