C’era una volta il West
Italy/USA, 1968, 165 minutes
Sun, May 3 / 12:30 / Castro / ONCE03C
Sergio Leone reinvigorated the American Western with the unique vision of a brilliantly observant outsider. Unlike the well-groomed characters depicted in traditional studio Westerns, the inhabitants of Leone’s frontier are dusty, sweaty and grimy. Frame-filling closeups linger on nuances of facial expression, communicating more with a look than with pages of dialogue. In his masterpiece, Once upon a Time in the West, Leone casts icon of gallantry Henry Fonda radically against type as the darkest of villains, and brings European stylistic reinterpretations perfected in his low-budget spaghetti Westerns to the quintessential cowboy movie location—John Ford’s favorite, Monument Valley. While this film employs and references the archetypal characters and themes of the Western, it goes far beyond a reiteration of cinematic clichés; instead, it is a riveting and emotional exploration of the genre’s mythologies. Once upon a Time in the West was shot in the Techniscope format, which has not been in use since the early 1970s. A photochemical restoration has been made using the original negative so as to preserve the beauty of the photography and director Leone’s original vision, and the color was retimed to capture the rich earth tones of the original photography. The audio was restored from magnetic master tracks.
This restoration was made possible with support by The Film Foundation and the Rome Film Festival in association with Sergio Leone Productions and Paramount Pictures. Presented by The Film Foundation and American Express. Presented with support from the Italian Cultural Institute, San Francisco. Photograph courtesy of Paramount Pictures.