A few words of passion as I had the chance, last week, to attend a special 50th anniversary screening of Sergio Leone’s masterpiece “Once Upon A Time In The West”. I got my ticket as I never watched this movie on a big screen (I repeat, on a big screen) before and I wanted to fully experience what my father told me had been an unique journey across emotions when he saw it in cinemas at the time.
I have to say the screening went far beyond my expectations. I think I realized for the first time the real meaning of the greatness of Sergio Leone, his sense of space and use of the landscape, not only a mere scenery but a vast stage in which his human characters move, stubbornly unaware that there is something bigger and beyond their ambitions and dreams. The iconic music of Ennio Morricone also provides a sense of infinity and I found myself in tears while listening to the Main Titles as Jill (played by Claudia Cardinale) leaves the city of Flagstone on a cart. Five minutes before I had chilled for the massacre of the McBain family by the cruel killer Frank, whose appearance in the shape of Henry Fonda, a symbol of the true values of America and now for the first time a reckless murderer, resonated of further power even if I had seen it already so many times in tv.
I was so fascinated and busy in rediscovering all those bits and details of the movie that I couldn’t even believe I was watching that movie which many critics sometimes panned as a “slow” masterpiece. In a time of fast-paced frames, Leone’s lesson returns to bring us the love of reflection, the taste of the image, a time which expands.
“Once Upon A Time In The West” is now also a beautiful book by Christopher Frayling, the deepest analysis conceivable on every aspect of his movie. But this screening demonstrates even more that we need to watch again the movie we love in cinemas. We need to love them, sharing the joy with others and remain astounded by their appearance, not confined again on a small screen. Bring more old movies to cinemas. It will be like having new first times!