100 Discs of Christmas #63 – Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)

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Once a financial flop, now regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West is a masterpiece. It’s a dark western, starring Henry Fonda as a merciless killer working for a rail baron, Gabriele Ferzetti, who dreams of joining the East and West coasts with twin lines of steel. After Fonda guns down a farm owner and his family, calmly shooting a child between the eyes, a woman appears to claim the land. As Fonda encourages her to sign over the farm, Charles Bronson arrives, chillingly playing his harmonica before dispatching all the gunmen Fonda throws at him. What does “Harmonica” want, and why does he seek revenge against Fonda?

From the same director as The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, the classic Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, Leone returned to the genre, this time telling the tale of the blood spilt in the name of taming the west for corporate interest. The camera work is amazing, with the viewer rising above buildings to see the Old West stretching out before them, while the score by Ennio Morricone plays, thrilling the senses. And it is this juxtaposition between the monumentally beautiful and the dirty acts made to achieve it, that makes this one of the great westerns.

Once Upon A Time In The West (1968), directed by Sergio Leone, is released on blu-ray disc and DVD in the UK by Paramount Home Entertainment, Certificate 12.

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