C'era Una Volta Il West (Once Upon a Time in the West) DVD (1968) / w/ Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards & Claudia Cardinale; a film by Sergio Leone
Jill: "You saved his life."
Harmonica: "I didn't let them kill him . . . that's not the same thing.".
In an era of change and transition in a land far from civilized, one man bids for his portion of the American dream while another helps try to preserve it and still others aim to obliterate any chance could have. An outlaw fugitive shoots his way out of captivity only to find new enemies at the next turn, a bigger bounty on his head, more battles to be waged. A woman from the east seeking a new life arrives to find her fiance murdered, his children slain alongside him. All the while as ruthless ambitions are collectively played out, a solitary "man with no name" deliberates his own purpose-filled agenda, one not indifferent to morality yet still wrought with necessary evils. It is Once Upon a Time in the West, a time of order and civility striving to overcome violence and corruption, of progress and development in the face of lawlessness as a way of life.
The Western to top all Westerns, Sergio Leone's masterpiece is not only a staple of the genre, it's widely considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made. The cinematography itself--symbolic imagery, visual aesthetics and soundtrack--warrants instant appeal: barren landscapes as worn and desolate as the figures and faces which inhabit it, winds howling across unobstructed terrain mirroring civilization's unencumbered progress, tattered buildings withering under the elements reflecting man's own imperfections, etc. The cast is likewise distinguished. Henry Fonda, in his darkest role, portrays the very essence of evil as the psychopathic Frank, a ruthless mercenary only too obliged to kill on a whim. Bronson is the mysterious "Harmonica", a man bearing the scars from a wounded past consequently linking him to a singular, irreversible fate. Robards and Cardinale complete the leads as the sympathetic outlaw and sturdy heroine, each complemented by a well-positioned supporting cast all helping to lift the movie to its rightful place in film history.