Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Looks that scar. Or, Once there were eyes.

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.


  1. That's bizarre. I was grabbing screen caps from Leone's masterpiece on Tuesday too. I haven't done anything with them yet, but...

    It's playing the Castro at the SFIFF in a couple weeks. Can Not Wait.

  2. That's the way to see it for sure! I'm jealous.

  3. Juvenio L. GuerraApril 20, 2009 9:45 PM

    Reminds me of Willem Dafoe

  4. That last flashback closeup (which flashes by as just a few frames) always froze my blood worse than the flash cuts in The Exorcist. This was a different kind of devil, the one I fear in reality.

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