Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

"I saw three of these dusters a short time ago, they were waiting for a train. Inside the dusters, there were three men. Inside the men, there were three bullets."

I didn't know that my brain could handle three hours of such insane movie beauty and intense badassery. I forgot how much I fucking love this film (and the genre in general). Having said that, this is totally not for everyone. While I would be just as happy to don a full length duster and a cowboy hat and walk around with a six shooter all day, the hardcore western fan is a bit hard to come by in this day and age. Particularly in my generation. 

There are, of course, reasons for this and Once Upon a Time in the West has all of them. A slow drawn out story with scenes that linger and linger on no dialog and no action. Major questions, major character development left unexplored until the end of the film. Cheesy and stereotypical plots and lines. And of course, the silent, stoic hero. Yes, for some people, these are the reasons to hate a film like this. For me, it i why I love it. It's just an aesthetic. 

Having said that, no one can deny how pretty the film was. Every individual shot seemed like it was painstakingly wrought. Even the most minute details were considered and it created a stunning visual piece the entire way through. 

As far as the story goes, sure, some of the ideas were a bit cliche (a city girl moving to the west, a railroad coming through town, a gang of dudes wearing dusters), but that wasn't really the point now was it. They took these elements and imagined them in a different way and that is where the soul of the western lies. I also love the idea, that is present in most westerns of this era, that you never quite know who the good guy is. Maybe there is no good guy. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good old fashioned good guy riding into town and taking out all of the bad cowboys but it would not have worked in this film. All of the characters in the story were deeply flawed and it makes for a much more down to earth and interesting story than it otherwise would have been. 

All in all, while Once Upon a Time in the West is not my favorite western, it is probably the best example of the genre. And yes, I can admit that it did go on a little too long, even for me, but it payed off the entire way through.