by Ryland Walker Knight
If you've seen Once Upon A Time In The West before, you'll recognize these dazzling blue eyeballs as some of the most sadistic peepers to hit a screen. If you remember this flashback, you will remember that they are alarmingly gleeful, and their appearance is blink-quick, punctuated by a slow-mo fall into dust by the younger version of Charles Bronson's Harmonica. You will also remember this flashback is the clue to why he's named Harmonica; or, at least, why he wears a harmonica. What's cool about a harmonica is that it's a wide instrument split into sections, or frames, of sound. You could say the same thing about cinema. Also, Fonda gets his comeuppance in a splendid composition.
Spoiler? Not really. This is Leone we're talking about here. You don't watch it for the plot, really. Or, you shouldn't; you should watch for how wide screen it is, how super saturated the frame is with color and activity and blood. I watch it for the geometry.