Once Upon a Time in the West Reviews
"Just a man." "An ancient race."
Thank you to all who were involved.
1) The music and sound effects are so obnoxiously repetitive. Perhaps the themes were well written, but I feel like Ennio Morricone didn?t compose enough music, so instead I just had to hear the same refrain repeated ad nauseum. There were so many scenes in the film that are silent and they are backed up with one line of music or one sound that simply won?t stop. At a certain point during all of these scenes I found myself wanting to mute the TV just to make it stop. I literally got a headache from watching the film, which probably isn?t a good sign.
2) To describe the pace of Once Upon a Time in the West as glacial is insulting to glaciers everywhere. This movie has a runtime of nearly three hours, and I swear two of those hours are made up of people silently staring at one another. There was more than once that I burst out and actually said to the characters on screen ?DO SOMETHING!? I understood it when Leone used these moments of quiet to build tension in a gunfight, and when it was used in that context it worked in this movie too. But there were these same moments of pause in almost everything people did throughout the film.
3) For some reason it felt like they were intentionally trying to hide the plot from me. I?m all for a film that allows the story to slowly reveal itself as you watch, but in Once Upon a Time in the West I was getting almost no revelation. There?s hardly any exposition, and when there is it seems to come out of nowhere. I eventually just gave up and looked to Wikipedia for a plot synopsis so I wouldn?t be forced to rewind the film in an attempt to decipher what was happening. I was seriously annoyed that the film made me work so hard to decipher it.
4) I do not understand the motivations of any character in this film. No one behaves in a manner that I find logical. This is almost an extension of my previous point because if the plot made sense then perhaps I would comprehend why people were doing things within that plot. But constantly people just start to do things with no explanation, and what they do seems totally out of character based on what I thought we knew about them. There also were no clear heroes or villains in my eyes so I was frustrated that I cared about no one.
5) Finally, I did not like Once Upon a Time in the West because it has no flow as a film. We constantly jump from one scene to the next with little or no connective tissue to help me adjust. I kept thinking I accidentally hit a button to skip the DVD forward or something, because I was regularly wondering ?How did we get here?? This is probably why I found the narrative of the film so weak, because I couldn?t follow what was happening for more than a scene at a time.
I think there?s probably something in this film I?m missing. Clearly it is well-loved and critically acclaimed, so I must be the one who?s off base. I imagine, now that I have read the plot, I could probably go back and things might fall into place a little bit more. However, I don?t really feel like dedicating the hours it would take to watch it again, and I don?t want another headache.
Being a Sergio Leone film, it's obviously well-made and also benefits from some good performances and scenes that, taken individually, are great. However, the movie's plot can be highly convoluted, which did stop me from fully enjoying it at times. Slightly disappointing considering its reputation, but still worth a watch.