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The Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone, Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1127

Essay

Sergio Leone was born into the film industry in Italy. His father, Roberto Roberti, was a famous film director while his mother, Bice Valerian was a famous actress. Leone spent all his life around film and the many aspects that go along with it. During his teen years, he worked as an assistant director for Italian and American directors that were working in Italy (“Biography of Sergio Leone” 1). Whether it is using the most out of the frame’s composition, to editing the scene for enhanced anticipation, Sergio Leone’s films have left a mark on many viewers and this is known to be the case with many filmmakers as well. He wanted to provide influential aspects to his work. Leone’s main goal was to make a strong, influential impact on the film industry and that is just what he did, especially with the Spaghetti westerns.

Sergio Leone was completely unheard of until he sent one of his major films, A Fistful of Dollars into the cinema. Leone was not like many other directors. He had a knack for pushing things a little close to the lines and breaking away from tradition. This is something that he was very good at. According to Timothy Sexton, “Leone looked to recreate the mythic western hero while at the same time revising him; to do this required creating a hero who carried the same stature as the classic ones from the past, while exuding a mystery as to his motive” (2). Leone was one to revise the spaghetti westerns and he did so to give the audience something to look forward to. He was able to revolutionize these westerns “into deeply personal statements about history, memory and cultural mythology” (Harvard Film Archive 1). Leone reinvented the spaghetti westerns to make them more interesting and did this no matter where he was located. He could do this in Italy, Spain, and the United States if he needed to.

Though most of his films were done in Spain and Italy, he had the talent to create “American-like characters. He was able to do this because he did not conform to the film industry and what everyone else was doing. He had his own ideas and his own knack for making things different. Leone was able to create American culture in his Spaghetti westerns no matter the destination. Leone’s style not only included specific acts of violence and extravagant, radical pictures that were so common in American culture, but he also attempted to explain social and human themes throughout his works. Most directors did not do this and they did not care to do this. However, Leone was very different from all of the other directors. He “exerted an immeasurable influence upon the American and world cinema, with his signature bravura style ceaselessly quoted by directors from around the world – from Tarantino and Scorsese to Kusturica, Miike and Woo” (Harvard Film Archives). Leone had certain disenchantment with the contemporary world at that time. He was trying to re-enact the cinema in order to express his feelings toward this disenchantment as well as to convey “the exhilaration he personally felt while watching and making movies” (Ho 2).

Whether Leone was in America, Spain or Italy, he did what many others did not do: he pushed the lines a little. He went against the grain and expected excellence no matter where he was. The destination did not matter. The American culture is one in which does not settle for less or the word “no.” Leone wanted his films to portray this as well as the many things that were going on within America at the time. One of those things was violence. He portrayed such violence in his films that many criticized him for being too graphic. However, he needed to be graphic in order for his audience to understand what was really going on in America. Finally, Leone portrays American culture despite the location of his films by using his characters to give off a new feel, a new look, something that would intrigue an audience. He used actors like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood who were completely opposite and always played completely opposite characters. He showed the cold side, the rock hard individuals who did not seem to care much about violence as long as they were sending a message. American culture is much the same. As long as there is a message sent, the violence does not seem to matter.

No matter where Leone was making movies, he was still a very influential director and many around the world looked up to him and his crass. He had a way of influencing his actors, his audience, and his colleagues by making movies that he felt personally. He was able to put his heart into his films and his passion into his people. This made a great director and many, over the years, have taken after him. He influence Clint Eastwood and John Wayne to be even better, incredible actors and these men did well within their careers. It is important to note that he was influential in Italy and Spain where he was making these films, but his influence trickled over to the Americas where many other directors, actors, and audiences were able to learn from him and love what he did.

In conclusion, the destination of Leone’s films never really mattered. He was a director who went against the grain anyway and decided to make his films the way he wanted to no matter what critics say. According to Kevin Grant, author of Any Gun Can Play: The Essential Guide to the Euro-Western, “Leone and his friends didn’t want to create facsimile, so they decided to break with tradition. They threw away the rules, or rewrote the rules, and reinterpreted western conventions” (Bryne 2). By doing this, Sergio Leone was able to create great films and influence many people in the film industry as well as people outside of the industry. His main concern was the way in which he portrayed American culture. Emotion was important to him and he expected his films to show that emotion. Leone had the capability of understanding filmmaking as a whole and his movies show his “keen awareness of the importance of combining an emotionally driving score with powerfully visceral cinematography (Sexton 2).

Work Cited

“Biography of Sergio Leone.” IMDb. IMDb.com, Inc., 2012. Web. 3 Nov 2012.  http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001466/bio.

Byrne, John. “The Wild West’s European Vacation.” Irish Times. 09 Aug 2011, n.p. Web. 03 Nov. 2012. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/features/2011/0809/1224302081143.html

Harvard Film Archives. “Once Upon a time… Sergio Leone.” (2011): 1-7. Web. 3 Nov. 2012. http://hcl.harvard.edu/hfa/films/2011octdec/leone.html.

Ho, Oliver. “Sergio Leone: Something to Do With Death.” Popmatters.com. Pop Matters Media, 2010. Web. 03 Nov. 2012. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/157817-sergio-leone.

Sexton, Timothy. “Sergio Leone: He Makes Westerns.” Yahoo Voices. N.p., 15 Dec. 2006. Web. 03 Nov. 2012. http://voices.yahoo.com/sergio-leone-he-makes-westerns-136627.html.

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