An informative exploration of the rise, development, and fal
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 05/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an interesting overview of the rise and fall of the Italian Western, told largely through interviews with the industry's most important living participants and a few of its admirers and historians. I should add that "interesting" in this case means, "interesting to me." I've long enjoyed the so-called Spaghetti Westerns of the three Sergios: Leone, Corbucci, and Sollima and the actors associated with their films such as Clint Eastwood (who carried the Italian sensibility back to a number of American-made films), Lee Van Cleef, Franco Nero, Klaus Kinski, and Terence Hill (aka Mario Girotti).
The documentary is not terribly exciting, but it is generally accurate and informative. This is almost something watches more of education than for entertainment. The Italian Western plays a small but important role in modern cinema. By rejecting most of the mythology that had attached itself to the Hollywood Western, which the Italian Western both paid homage to and rejected, these films cleared space for many of the anti-heroes that arose in the seventies in cinema. It is possible that, for instance, the Dirty Harry films could have arisen without the Italian Western's reworking of the lone hero, but given Eastwood's iconographic presence not as likely. But this can be overstated. The truth is that while the films of Sergio Leone starring Clint Eastwood exerted a considerable influence on American cinema, no other Italian Westerns had that kind of influence, not even prominent films such as DJANGO.
Still, the documentary is helpful to remind us that a lot more than Leone was happening in Italy during the decade during which Westerns dominated Italian filmmaking. And it helps identify some of the better films of the genre that are not often shown aside from the Leone classics. Personally, I do not think that these films as a group compete with the Leone classics. Those films like DJANGO, THE BIG SILENCE, and others have many interesting moments, as a group they do not stand up well against Leone's best work. When I think of Leone in connection with the others working in the genre, I am reminded of a self-description Kierkegaard made (correctly) of himself, that he was "a genius in a market town." Leone was a brilliant filmmaker with an understanding of myth and iconography that the others could imitate but not quite emulate. To be truthful, most of the films often elicit laughter for their excesses. The Trinity films, for instance, are fun, but frequently ludicrous, more successful as parodies of Spaghetti Westerns than anything else.
So, put this in your Netflix queue and add a few of the films it discusses for follow up. There is more to the Italian Western than Sergio Leone and any semi-serious student of film ought to be exposed to it."
For Fans and Newbies
Robert C. Cumbow | Seattle, WA USA | 07/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This nice little documentary on the "spaghetti western" is both a tribute, to be enjoyed and celebrated by those who are already fans of the genre, and an introduction, designed to familiarize the curious newcomer with the many infectious attractions of the Italian Western phenomenon."