Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Once Upon A Time In The West => Topic started by: Skull on June 20, 2005, 01:16:50 PM

Title: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Skull on June 20, 2005, 01:16:50 PM
I just saw the OUATITW in all of it's beautiful entirety.  Previously, I had seen it a few times on TV throughout the years but the quality of the latest transfer is staggering.  Anyway, at the end, instead of it going to commercial break, like I'm used to, I saw Harmonica ride away with Cheyenne and then I started thinking about all of the man versus nature, progress vs. man symbolism in the movie and I started to think about High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider.  I know there is a lot of evidence that points to Harmonica being flesh and blood, literally, but I can't help but think that High Plains and Pale took the unearthly aspect of OUATITW and incorporated directly into those films.

Here are some items that bring up questions:

1. Why is Harmonica riding off with Cheyenne’s body?  Is he taking him back to the afterlife with him (I know there is a thread that's already discussing this but it's important to note)?

2.  How does he know all of Frank's victim's names?

3.  How does he see things that normal men wouldn't be able to see, i.e. rifle barrel through billboard sign.

4. Last but not least, What human being would be able to resist Jill?  Kinda kidding, kinda not.

These are just some of the few things off the top of my head.  I'm hoping these questions will create more questions.

Let me know what you think.
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: cigar joe on June 21, 2005, 03:44:56 AM
I agree, I think you can read it that way, especially after he pops back up after being shot at Cattle Corner Station.
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: KERMIT on June 22, 2005, 03:08:03 PM
i thhought, at first, right, harmonica's dead after woody plugged him. but, wait. bronson's eye pops back open.
it's time for harmonica to take care of unfinished bidness.
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Beebs on June 23, 2005, 07:29:22 AM
High Plains was very interesting. I've only seen it once but my favorite line is when the guys in the bar ask if he thinks he's "alittle too fast for us" and Clint replies "a lot faster than you'll ever live to be".

Harmonica is fast, recovers fast and tracks fast.

I'll try to answer some of your questions from my opinion.
1. I don't think he is doing the Field of Dreams thing and taking him to heaven into the corn crop but I had to think about this too. He can't just leave him there for Jill to find dead. He was riding away, so Harmonica rod him away so Jill wouldn't think anything of it.

2. He has been looking for Frank since he was a kid. He has encountered on Frank's trail all of his victims. Dave Jenkins, Bensen etc.

3. Again, since he was a kid he has been trained to look for things like that. from experience, where would he hide if assasinating Frank.

4. Haha, I like this one because I couldn't do this. "Discipline, 007, discipline" (Goldfinger)

I don't thind of Harmonica as a Mythical creature as Clint describes Drifter and Pale Rider. He is just a man looking for revenge and has trained to the top to do it like in Nevada Smith, McQueen learns to shoot read and live to get revenge on his parents.
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Groggy on June 23, 2005, 03:00:46 PM
I agree, I think you can read it that way, especially after he pops back up after being shot at Cattle Corner Station.

WTF's in them cigars, Joe?  Watch the scene in the trading post again - Harmonica was shot in the shoulder.  That's not really "near the heart", except maybe that its closer to the heart than, say, his testicles.  But a shoulder wound, whilst certainly painful, generally isn't fatal unless there's heavy blood loss or secondary infection.
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Beebs on June 23, 2005, 03:02:46 PM
You must admit though he has a pretty amazing recovery. Being shot period and getting up right away is a feat.
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: iceman on June 23, 2005, 03:41:09 PM
You must admit though he has a pretty amazing recovery. Being shot period and getting up right away is a feat.


Hey.. Bet I could do it as well ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

ICE
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Beebs on June 23, 2005, 03:45:09 PM

Hey.. Bet I could do it as well ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

ICE
Well, after all, you are the amazing Mr. Iceman
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Groggy on June 24, 2005, 04:42:38 AM
You must admit though he has a pretty amazing recovery. Being shot period and getting up right away is a feat.

True, but on the other hand we don't know for sure he long he's laying there.  When the camera cuts to the windmill, we could be talking about several minutes/hours passing, for all we know. 

I don't think Leone intended the "Harmonica IS Death" angle, it's interesting to thinking about, to be sure, but from all the interviews he gave on OUATITW, Harmonica was clearly supposed to be a human being.
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Skull on June 24, 2005, 07:00:41 AM
it's interesting to thinking about, to be sure, but from all the interviews he gave on OUATITW, Harmonica was clearly supposed to be a human being.

I agree that he probably is human but there is so much symbolism and mythos that can be extracted from this movie.  Because of this, we all find it interesting to debate and discuss these inconsistencies.

Also, he's the only character, besides his red shirt, that wears all white.  It could be because of the 'good guy wears white' syndrome but I doubt it.
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Franks Harmonica on September 08, 2005, 12:21:42 AM
We can also talk about the night scene when he arrives outside of Jills house playing the harmonica and disappears like a spirit when he is shot at.
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Alan Shearer 9 on September 08, 2005, 09:04:11 AM
In terms of why he resisted Jill maybe he was gay? He has ample opportunity to get in there but never does and the way he looks at Frank in the showdown is quite erotic
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Dlanor on September 08, 2005, 10:46:26 AM
We should ask that to Dario argento and Bernado Bertolucci. Who else could know appart the writters?
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Poggle on September 08, 2005, 03:24:32 PM
I kind of like that idea of Frank having made the mistake of killing a Navajo boy sometime in his career and his ghost coming for revenge. The big mistake in his career ;D
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Dlanor on September 09, 2005, 04:30:14 AM
A lethal mistake. Harmonica could have died but not by the hand of Frank (remember what Cheynne says, this guy has something to do with death). If Frank has killed Harmonica the story has no sense, because it's his brother who must be avenged, not himself.
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: titoli on September 09, 2005, 05:18:57 AM
1. Bacause Cheyenne, like Frank, belongs to what remains of untainted West before the railway arrives. Maybe that West is nowhere to be found, anyway Harmonica looks for a place away from crowd and civilization.

2. He followed Frank's trail since he grew up to be a man. Strange thing, is that it took him so long to find him.

3. he has a better pov (he's on a balcony) and he's up to what's awaiting Frank, so he knows where to look.

4. Hey, he married Jill!
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: grandpa_chum on September 09, 2005, 12:23:30 PM
I like the idea and I often think of it that way... but here is why i don't see it as 'the way it is'...

1. he was sparing jill having to find cheyenne's dead body

2. he has been tracking him unsuccessfully for at least 20 years, along the line he talked with a lot of people who knew people frank had killed.

3. it's a spaghetti western and he's hellbent on revenge, he's gonna see things.

4. What human could resist jill? A man hellbent on revenge, his one and only desire throughout the whole movie is to kill frank, he's probably met dozens of jills over the years and he's grown tired of it, he's got one thing on his mind and it's revenge.

I like to think his need for revenge has maybe made him 'not human' but not in a supernatural way. Just a man hellbent on revenge that is all.
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Alan Shearer 9 on September 09, 2005, 01:01:10 PM
there aint dozens of Jills  :o hollerholler!  :P
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Dlanor on September 10, 2005, 10:54:19 AM
Tired of Jills ;D. Yeah. He met so many Jills that he is tired. :D
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: dave jenkins on September 16, 2005, 04:38:11 PM
I like to think his need for revenge has maybe made him 'not human' but not in a supernatural way. Just a man hellbent on revenge that is all.
That puts it very well, I think. And after the revenge is complete, Harmonica's reason for being is gone so he just disappears into the landscape.
Title: Re: Harmonica, a ghostly avenger?
Post by: Alan Shearer 9 on September 16, 2005, 05:43:19 PM
it is incredibly cool as well, Charles Bronson was just born for that role