Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Once Upon A Time In The West => Topic started by: Herry Grail on June 29, 2016, 11:24:14 PM



Title: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Herry Grail on June 29, 2016, 11:24:14 PM
I've been enjoying reading about the remains of the arch in Monument Valley and various members' pilgrimages to it over the years.

From what I've read, it seems like the location is not maintained by its owners, which I assume is the Navajo Nation, nor is it designated as a Historic Place and has no markers, plaques, gift shops, or anything of the kind.

In fact, it's just a thing out in the desert that's deteriorating by the year and attracting more soda bottles than movie fans.

I know that OUATITW is not the most well-known film among the general public, but I've been pleased by how many people I've mentioned it to recently who do know it. Also, it's evident from this forum and other places I've visited on the internet that it has a huge following among both film fans and professionals, and is held in much higher esteem than I realized. Overseas it has spawned all kinds of special multi-disc DVD and Blu Ray editions with wooden boxes and harmonicas and Zippo lighters. So its following around the world is very significant, enough to warrant the kind of elite packaging treatment you'll probably never see in America.

My point is that there's a moral dilemma here: I think if you look at the interest worldwide, fans would go nuts for a commemorative piece of brick (I know, rock) from the original arch. Even with the deterioration, there is a ton of it still there. You could clear a single layer and—if you could market them worldwide, either on their own or as a bonus on the inevitable upcoming better-than-Blu-Ray release—make a mint from the little chiseled pieces it would yield.

Conversely, the Navajo Nation could either sponsor or allow a third party to raise funds for a cause (possibly related to film preservation if not a health-oriented one) by doing a "buy a brick" drive like other organizations and municipalities have done with parts of famous structures that had to be torn down. (My mother has this giant clay tile from a New Orleans church roof on her dining room wall.)

But...is that desecration? If it's deteriorating anyway, with no one trying to preserve it or even slow down its demise, and no one except buffs who have the means to visit it will ever see it since it's so isolated, wouldn't it be better to shave some of it off, maybe reinforcing the majority of what's left in the process, and let the rest of the world have a piece of it on top their TVs? (I guess TVs don't really have "tops" anymore, but you get the point.)

It sounds like there's enough of the pieces lying around to fund a hospital wing without even touching the main structure. Nobody wants any more than a Zippo lighter-sized piece anyway. Put it in a little acrylic box with a COA and you're on your way.

So...if it's not unacceptable to let it rot away in anonymity, and nobody in a position to change that sad fact has any interest in doing so, why not give it a more beneficial dismantling—maybe even leaving it better than it was, minus a layer or two?

My inner memorabilia-nut is intrigued.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: dave jenkins on June 30, 2016, 06:53:22 AM
My point is that there's a moral dilemma here: I think if you look at the interest worldwide, fans would go nuts for a commemorative piece of brick (I know, rock) from the original arch. Even with the deterioration, there is a ton of it still there. You could clear a single layer and—if you could market them worldwide, either on their own or as a bonus on the inevitable upcoming better-than-Blu-Ray release—make a mint from the little chiseled pieces it would yield.

Conversely, the Navajo Nation could either sponsor or allow a third party to raise funds for a cause (possibly related to film preservation if not a health-oriented one) by doing a "buy a brick" drive like other organizations and municipalities have done with parts of famous structures that had to be torn down. (My mother has this giant clay tile from a New Orleans church roof on her dining room wall.)

But...is that desecration? If it's deteriorating anyway, with no one trying to preserve it or even slow down its demise, and no one except buffs who have the means to visit it will ever see it since it's so isolated, wouldn't it be better to shave some of it off, maybe reinforcing the majority of what's left in the process, and let the rest of the world have a piece of it on top their TVs? (I guess TVs don't really have "tops" anymore, but you get the point.)

It sounds like there's enough of the pieces lying around to fund a hospital wing without even touching the main structure. Nobody wants any more than a Zippo lighter-sized piece anyway. Put it in a little acrylic box with a COA and you're on your way.

So...if it's not unacceptable to let it rot away in anonymity, and nobody in a position to change that sad fact has any interest in doing so, why not give it a more beneficial dismantling—maybe even leaving it better than it was, minus a layer or two?

My inner memorabilia-nut is intrigued.
Dude, I'll sell you all the bricks and broken mortar you want and I don't even have to go to Arizona to fill your order. And you'll have my personal guarantee that every piece of memorabilia is "authentic." Were you looking to spend $100, $200, more? Put your check in the mail today!


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Herry Grail on June 30, 2016, 07:37:08 AM
Dude, I'll sell you all the bricks and broken mortar you want and I don't even have to go to Arizona to fill your order. And you'll have my personal guarantee that every piece of memorabilia is "authentic." Were you looking to spend $100, $200, more? Put your check in the mail today!

Haha! You're not the only one out there! Can you provide a COA signed by Claudia Cardinale?  O0


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Novecento on June 30, 2016, 08:06:25 AM
My point is that there's a moral dilemma here: I think if you look at the interest worldwide, fans would go nuts for a commemorative piece of brick (I know, rock) from the original arch.

Conversely, the Navajo Nation could either sponsor or allow a third party to raise funds for a cause (possibly related to film preservation if not a health-oriented one) by doing a "buy a brick" drive like other organizations and municipalities have done with parts of famous structures that had to be torn down. (My mother has this giant clay tile from a New Orleans church roof on her dining room wall.)

But...is that desecration? If it's deteriorating anyway, with no one trying to preserve it or even slow down its demise, and no one except buffs who have the means to visit it will ever see it since it's so isolated, wouldn't it be better to shave some of it off, maybe reinforcing the majority of what's left in the process, and let the rest of the world have a piece of it on top their TVs? (I guess TVs don't really have "tops" anymore, but you get the point.)

That's a really interesting idea. I personally have no interest in buying a piece (I'm not a memorabilia collector), but I think you are correct that there are many people out there who would be interested.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 05, 2016, 10:29:42 PM
In my humble opinion:If the arch is visited regularly and enjoyed by lots of fans, a public shrine, then maybe there's be something wrong with taking stones. But if it's basically an abandoned place that hardly anyone knows about and it's just visited once in a while by some hardcore fans, then I'd think there is nothing wrong with taking a few stones, as long as there are still plenty left over there for the fans who visit  ;)

Not sure how you would cut the stones into small pieces, though. Maybe you'd just have to drop it from a high place and let it shatter and pick up the pieces  ;)

I don't know how many people you'd get to buy it; as DJ says, who knows if people will believe that it's real.

My educated guess is that you won't be the only fan who has taken a stone from there. Of course, if you advertise it publicly online, maybe Paramount will suddenly realize its value and go to Monument Valley and scoop up all the stones and sell them at a special auction  ;)


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: cigar joe on July 06, 2016, 04:07:33 AM
I think it should be left alone as a relic, I'd hate to see it disappear. Now I wouldn't have a problem with a stone from the site surrounding the arch.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Leonardo on July 06, 2016, 04:55:09 AM
I think it should be left alone as a relic, I'd hate to see it disappear. Now I wouldn't have a problem with a stone from the site surrounding the arch.

Fully agree with CJ!  O0


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: cigar joe on July 06, 2016, 09:38:30 PM
Fully agree with CJ!  O0

The other option would be to repair it and make it an actual whitewashed adobe arch looking as seen in the film. Just like they restored Sad Hill cemetery in Almeria.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 06, 2016, 10:36:23 PM
I have heard from a friend that visited the arch that the top, curved part of the arch was made with wood. The sides are stones that are still standing, whereas the top curved part was painted wood that is knocked down by now (perhaps by lightning?) but some of the pieces of wood are lying on the ground.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: cigar joe on July 07, 2016, 04:59:56 AM
I have heard from a friend that visited the arch that the top, curved part of the arch was made with wood. The sides are stones that are still standing, whereas the top curved part was painted wood that is knocked down by now (perhaps by lightning?) but some of the pieces of wood are lying on the ground.

Sure it was just a temporary prop. But whatever is left should be incorporated into a real adobe arch.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Herry Grail on July 08, 2016, 01:17:47 PM
Is this it? It's the biggest satellite image you can get on Google:

https://goo.gl/maps/APc7Xn2BGcn

(http://i.imgur.com/IcqItdn.png)


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: cigar joe on July 08, 2016, 04:17:46 PM
Yes you can see the concrete that was poured for the camera crew.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Herry Grail on July 08, 2016, 05:43:02 PM
Yes you can see the concrete that was poured for the camera crew.

Oh, those are the dolly tracks! Awesome! Thanks  :)

That really makes the site feel more like a real landmark...there's more obvious history there; it becomes a film site rather than just a prop somehow. Almost a kind of archeological site.

I had no idea that they poured concrete for those kinds of tracks...I'd have assumed it was wood and removable. It's odd that the landscape was left with those long concrete tracks in place. With that nice little road around it, the place just cries out for preservation and/or restoration. What a cool dream...


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: noodles_leone on July 09, 2016, 05:38:52 AM
The pic I took 7-8 years ago:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2643/4210078696_44967f5a85_z.jpg)

You can see the tracks.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: dave jenkins on July 09, 2016, 09:44:24 AM
Very cool.

You know, we've talked about restoring the arch before but there are problems. First, it's difficult to know who to seek permission from. I guess we could just show up and go to work and hope nobody stops us. The other thing is knowing exactly what to do. It sure would be handy if there were some plans somewhere, but I doubt very much such a thing would have survived. I'm not sure that eye-balling the image on the film is sufficient to get us what we want.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Cusser on July 09, 2016, 01:32:58 PM
The pic I took 7-8 years ago:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2643/4210078696_44967f5a85_z.jpg)

You can see the tracks.

Yeah, pretty much as when I was there.  The camera dolly tracks are neat, so is the topography as traffic from the road cannot be seen from that location, so there would've been no need or desire to stop traffic on the highway.  I think the storm in the film in the background (to the left?) was just happenstance at the time of filming the scene, but that's how it happens out here in the west.  No way would one or could one wait for that to happen (remember angle already determined, dolly tracks and famous monuments in the distance, to show it wasn't faked).

As to physical rebuilding: this is truly in the middle of nowhere, believe on Indian reservation.  The only lodging anywhere nearby is at Gouldings in Monument Valley.  I'm likely the closest, and it's 330 miles away from me. 


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Herry Grail on July 09, 2016, 02:24:34 PM
I hunted around a little on Google last night just for bucket-list kicks, and the nearest airport is a 3-hour drive away. (Apparently you can get chartered flights to come a bit closer, which I guess is what they did when they originally built the thing and filmed it?)

The presence of the dolly tracks makes it a particularly substantial presence as a "site" I think. I just bought some styrofoam and plaster-of-paris to play around with a model, and I expect to be able to skew the photos and get some screen grabs to make the shape pretty accurate. I believe prop/set-design people could interpret the original on film to see how it was made, which may very well have been scored foam across the arch, since the tall vertical "pieces" fit together so well. Of course a lasting restoration would be more on par with the kind of faux stonework you see at a Disney park.

My guess is the permission to do anything would come from the Navajo Nation, or the Parks Department, or both. There might be some help from film-preservation/historical groups, at least for guidance, and remember that's a pet cause of Scorcese, one of the film's most high-profile admirers.

I'd at least like to see a marker there, and maybe a maintenance effort. Its isolation has been good for its relative longevity, but it sure makes this kind of project difficult. It's fun to run the thoughts through your head, though.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: dave jenkins on July 09, 2016, 02:40:19 PM

My guess is the permission to do anything would come from the Navajo Nation, or the Parks Department, or both.
Except getting them to acknowledge responsibility will be the hard thing. The Navajo Nation will claim to know nothing about it. The Parks Department will say it is not within their remit. I foresee nothing but stonewalling.

One approach would be to just go ahead and present it as a fait accompli and then ask for sanction. It's unlikely that anyone would demand that it be torn down once it were up, especially if there were a letter from Scorsese asking that it be preserved. The most difficult thing is the doing: the transportation of materials, the assembly. What would the best season be for doing work there?



Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 09, 2016, 08:01:22 PM
Seems from the comments I have read here that no one in the Navajo Nation would know much or care much about it; you can do whatever you want and nobody would bother you. Asking permission would create problems; just do what you wanna do. My guess is that would be the best way to go. Take a brick and break it up and see if it sells. Restore it. Whatever. Doesn't seem like anyone would bother you. Just a guess.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Herry Grail on July 09, 2016, 08:04:35 PM
We just need a coupla hundred grand* for some 3-D imaging of the remaining structure merged with an artist's 3-D model of the original, with pieces cut (or printed?) from the result, then assembled and finished onsite.   O0

*Totally made that up.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Herry Grail on July 09, 2016, 08:17:22 PM
Seems from the comments I have read here that no one in the Navajo Nation would know much or care much about it; you can do whatever you want and nobody would bother you. Asking permission would create problems; just do what you wanna do. My guess is that would be the best way to go. Take a brick and break it up and see if it sells. Restore it. Whatever. Doesn't seem like anyone would bother you. Just a guess.

Here's a possibly really dumb question: When you go out on this little road that leads to the arch, have you gone through a "national park" gate at some point, or a "now entering Navajo Nation" checkpoint? Are there rangers or docents or some kind of official Monument Valley caretakers driving around?

In other words, is it really just a place off the highway like any other little pile of rocks you might encounter anywhere else? Does it "feel" like you're in a park or on a reservation, or are you just on a road in the middle of nowhere?? I don't ask to see what you could "get away with," just to get a sense of what this area is like.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: cigar joe on July 09, 2016, 08:34:35 PM
If it's Navajo Res I'm sure you'd need permission, but since it's already been used I don't see any problem with restoration.

As far as the arch itself, there are probably Carlo Simi sketches with the dimensions. Peter Hanley who has recently been delving into this stuff may be the go to person to ask for advice on who to contact, no?


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 09, 2016, 11:08:36 PM
As I mentioned previously, the top of the original arch is gone; there are just some wood pieces from it scattered on the ground. Not sure why it came down - maybe lightning? And if it's rebuilt, it may again be knocked down by lightning ...


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: stanton on July 10, 2016, 02:12:23 AM
As I mentioned previously, the top of the original arch is gone; there are just some wood pieces from it scattered on the ground. Not sure why it came down - maybe lightning? And if it's rebuilt, it may again be knocked down by lightning ...

It wasn't built to last for an eternity, it was only built to film that one scene, and nobody cared for it thereafter. Nature claims its right and gets back everything, it is only a matter of time. And if it was built without quality the deteriorating process goes fast. Water, wind, frost are gnawing on it, it doesn't need a ligthning for only the pedestal to remain.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Cusser on July 10, 2016, 07:44:37 AM
Even the books at Gouldings about films made in Monument Valley say nothing about this film being partially done there, like it didn't exist.

Search this web board, I'm pretty sure a replica arch was built somewhere in Spain, primarily for tourists.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: dave jenkins on July 10, 2016, 09:30:23 AM
Water, wind, frost are gnawing on it, it doesn't need a ligthning for only the pedestal to remain.
You left out gravity.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: stanton on July 10, 2016, 09:56:39 AM
You left out Gravity.

Sandra Bullock debarked in water, did not hit the arch. Maybe she should. A good idea for part 2 though, even on a higher metaphorical level.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Herry Grail on July 10, 2016, 10:30:21 AM
Here are a couple of shots I found online. What's odd is that they're both at the Fort Bravo/Texas Hollywood park in Almeria but they appear to be in different locations, even though they're taken from opposite sides.

Even if there's enough room behind it to take the shot into the little town, you can see cactus and other things that don't match up. But the asymmetry of the two bases looks very consistent.

(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-bYh8HsP1Q6M/UDXBjd7PxKI/AAAAAAAAAck/WRD86FMP2bM/s600/Fort%2BBravo%2B%25283%2529.JPG)

(https://c6.staticflickr.com/1/4/3922589_ac42f33688_z.jpg)

But whether it's the same arch or not, it's a lot wider than the original.

(http://estaticos.elperiodico.com/resources/jpg/9/8/1345564130189.jpg)


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Herry Grail on July 10, 2016, 03:00:08 PM
Here's what a little "skewing around" in Photoshop can get you:

(http://i.imgur.com/IX1ZMEx.jpg)


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: cigar joe on July 10, 2016, 07:23:25 PM
nice  O0


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: dave jenkins on July 10, 2016, 09:17:19 PM
Get the 3-D printer operating! It's gonna take a heck of a lot of filament, though . . .


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Herry Grail on July 10, 2016, 10:13:48 PM
Get the 3-D printer operating! It's gonna take a heck of a lot of filament, though . . .

Well I just read they've made a whole house out of the stuff now...


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: noodles_leone on July 11, 2016, 12:11:37 AM
The only lodging anywhere nearby is at Gouldings in Monument Valley.

Actually, there is a closer (and much better) motel just 10 minutes from there. I slept there on my last trip (when i took the pic).

Here's a possibly really dumb question: When you go out on this little road that leads to the arch, have you gone through a "national park" gate at some point, or a "now entering Navajo Nation" checkpoint? Are there rangers or docents or some kind of official Monument Valley caretakers driving around?

In other words, is it really just a place off the highway like any other little pile of rocks you might encounter anywhere else? Does it "feel" like you're in a park or on a reservation, or are you just on a road in the middle of nowhere?? I don't ask to see what you could "get away with," just to get a sense of what this area is like.

It's just on a dirt road out of nowhere. It is not inside of Monument Valley although it still belongs to someone, I guess.

Sandra Bullock debarked in water, did not hit the arch. Maybe she should. A good idea for part 2 though, even on a higher metaphorical level.

 ;D


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Cusser on July 11, 2016, 08:13:26 AM
Here are a couple of shots I found online. What's odd is that they're both at the Fort Bravo/Texas Hollywood park in Almeria but they appear to be in different locations, even though they're taken from opposite sides.

(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-bYh8HsP1Q6M/UDXBjd7PxKI/AAAAAAAAAck/WRD86FMP2bM/s600/Fort%2BBravo%2B%25283%2529.JPG)

Ha !!! Even the replica arch has had some stones fall off it !!!  There's a little wooden ladder there, looks like someone has the life-long project of fixing that. 

Anyone KNOW if Leone himself was at this location for the shoot in 1968?  I might guess that this was too-important of a scene to allow a 2nd unit director to handle....my thinking would for Leone and Fonda to fly into Las Vegas or Phoenix and drive there, it's not to close to anything big.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Herry Grail on July 11, 2016, 10:11:39 AM
It's just on a dirt road out of nowhere. It is not inside of Monument Valley although it still belongs to someone, I guess.

That's wild. It almost makes you a little afraid to bring attention to it. It's actually done pretty darn well over 50 years.


Anyone KNOW if Leone himself was at this location for the shoot in 1968?  I might guess that this was too-important of a scene to allow a 2nd unit director to handle....my thinking would for Leone and Fonda to fly into Las Vegas or Phoenix and drive there, it's not to close to anything big.

I'd be interested to know how it all went down too. I know the location was carefully scouted for the best background, but it seems like no one compromised at all to make it a slightly less inaccessible destination. All that equipment, material, and personnel had to be hauled out so far away from every convenience.

It's one of the things that makes this site so unique...its isolation has to be remarkably rare for a film location.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: noodles_leone on July 12, 2016, 05:57:01 AM
It sure feels very special when you go there. The "untouched" quality is quite unmatched by the other films locations I have seen.


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Leonardo on July 13, 2016, 05:04:27 AM
Ha !!! Even the replica arch has had some stones fall off it !!!  There's a little wooden ladder there, looks like someone has the life-long project of fixing that.  

Anyone KNOW if Leone himself was at this location for the shoot in 1968?  I might guess that this was too-important of a scene to allow a 2nd unit director to handle....my thinking would for Leone and Fonda to fly into Las Vegas or Phoenix and drive there, it's not to close to anything big.

Leone was definetely present during the shooting of the arch scene. There was a long and interesting interview on Youtube (now removed for copyright reasons) with Claudio Mancini who told a lot of anecdotes about his friendship with Leone and about the shooting of Leone's movies. He also told some stories about the arch scene (apart from Executive producer of OUITW, he was Harmonica's brother in the arch scene) and I remember in particular that he mentioned it took 3-4 days to film it. He also told the story that during the rehearsals, young Harmonica was getting very tired as he had to carry Mancini's weight on his shoulders for quite some time. So Leone decided to let him rest and to let Mancini stand on a ladder instead while filming some close ups. As it was late in the afternoon and shooting was finished, somebody decided as a joke to remove the ladder and let Mancini "hang" while the whole crew then drove back to the hotel. According to Mancini, he was left there alone and "hanging" for about an hour or so before somebody came back to help him. So that also tells us that the hotel was not too far away from the arch location. ;)


Title: Re: The Deteriorating Arch—A Moral Question
Post by: Denys on July 13, 2016, 04:40:19 PM
Leone was there for sure..... I was asking myself that question for years until I found those:


(https://s31.postimg.org/ae2awzo5n/Arch_1_2.jpg) (https://postimg.org/image/dkwugm8lj/)image search (https://postimage.org/)

(https://s32.postimg.org/46cbohzid/Arche_tournage_1.jpg) (https://postimg.org/image/g87pin8qp/)picture hosting (https://postimage.org/)

It would have been very surprising that Leone wouldn't be there since that flashback is the powerful sequence and final revelation at the end of the movie.


We went to the site in 2005 and 2008. We planned to go back there in two or three years. The atmosphere is so special and it's so quiet there.... just like a cemetary!!