Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad & The Ugly is about bounty hunter Joe (Clint Eastwood) and Mexican outlaw Tuco (Eli Wallach) who form an unlikely partnership. Joe hands in Tuco for a reward and rescues him moments before he is hanged. This partnership hits rocks when Joe’s shot at the rope goes awry one time. But, they reunite under unlikely circumstances to search for a 200000 dollars treasure hidden in a cemetery, while Sentenza (Lee Van Cleef) closes in on their heels within a Civil War background.
Quentin Tarantino has cited this movie as the best shot movie in the history of cinema and the biggest influence in his film-making career. I can see why. It was the 60’s. Hollywood was gifted with classics like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, My Fair Lady, The Sound Of Music, La Dolce Vita and Mary Poppins. But the alpha male was subdued by these movies. He was feeling it gradually. He was on the verge of a revolt. He had enough of this dancing and kissing bullshit. He needed something raw and energetic. Something that he could cheer on and make him feel like a man again. And then came The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.
The tragedy lies therein. Sergio Leone never got much acclaim for this movie. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly is a trend-setter. A classic. See, whenever we think of Western movies, what do we think of ? We think of a cowboy, with a revolver in his hand, a cigarette on his lips, sitting on a horse within a breath-taking landscape. The seeds of the Western genre were sown in this classic. Everything that we now know about the Western genre originated from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.
What a glorious movie ! This movie’s narrative is unfolded in a 178 minutes run time. But, there isn’t a single scene in the movie where you are bored. The intensity is building up like a pressure cooker. There isn’t much movement. When you are watching this movie, you will be serene. You will watch it just like any other movie. But when the explosive climax is set into motion, the tension will reach a climax. You will be biting your fingernails, or maybe, your toe nails, like in my case.
Many look upon the movie as a celebration of ultra-stylized no-nonsense violence and coolness and what not. It isn’t anything like that. If you just look closely, you will notice that the introduction of Joe, Sentenza, Tuco, i.e. The Good, The Bad, The Ugly takes about 30 minutes of the narrative. So, it means that the first thirty minutes were like a prologue to this epic, you just don’t notice it because of its entertainment value. These characters are as well sketched as any other.
It is not a journey to the cemetery in its true sense, it is a journey from one hurdle to another. These men are in constant peril, but what makes it such a rich story is the fact that they identify themselves with the trouble. They love this life. It is not the money that drives them, it is the peril. That feeling of their thickening when they are encountering an opponent who has an equal change of winning just like them. And that moment of victory is what keeps them going. They derive a certain pleasure from it, a psychological orgasm.
Okay, enough of this goddamn formality, this movie is super cool !!!!! Everything about it is cool. Its main theme, the way Joe lights a matchstick with his fingers, the way Tuco shoots from the bath-tub. And the dialogues ! They are splendid. But what obviously stands out is the tension. The emotions that Sergio Leone puts into force is unimaginable. Instead of great dispersed crowds, he takes in a few individuals and embroils a scene with their tension. Anything can happen, but it takes a hell lot of time to happen. And that’s where the score comes in. Every epic doesn’t become an epic until it has a score to supplement that. And Ennio Morricone does just that. The score is flawless.
And the cinematography ! Hey folks, did you enjoy watching Interstellar, Gravity and Inception in the theaters ? Say thanks to Tonino Colli. His cinematography broke the barriers in cine world, because the breath-taking shots of landscapes couldn’t be confined to 35 mm. These are jaw-dropping scenes, to say the least.
But at its core, the movie is about settling old scores. This is well apparent in the final scene of the movie, which I cannot describe in detail because I don’t want to spoil it for you. But a special mention of Tuco is much required. This is one of the greatest movie characters of all time. You may think Joe is the hero of this movie. Well, he ain’t, Tuco is. He handles the whole movie and also he so convincingly puts on a mask of goodness around him, that by the climax we forget he is ‘The Ugly’.
With its acting finesse, superb cinematography and a gritty score, The Good,The Bad & The Ugly is a movie of epic proportions and will remain a masterpiece and the most definitive movie of the Western genre.
Rating : 9.4 / 10
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