Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Once Upon A Time In The West => Topic started by: Nothing but a rotten son of a... on October 19, 2003, 06:58:58 AM

Title: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Nothing but a rotten son of a... on October 19, 2003, 06:58:58 AM
It seems to me that Harmonica would be an altogether likable character and/or etheral avenging angel if it wasn't for one scene - when he tears off Jill's lace bodice and begins to force himself on her.

Why is this scene here? I personally have some thoughts, but it would be interesting to hear from someone else first.

Thus, the floor is yours, good people!
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: cigar joe on October 20, 2003, 04:17:15 AM
Maybe the lace represents her whore past and ripping it off Harmonica transforms her into the earh mother image.
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: The Smoker on October 20, 2003, 08:55:37 AM
I totally agree Cigar Joe. I always got the same feeling from the scene.
But thats what great about it, 'what the hell?'  your there with Jill about whats going on at first..
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Nothing but a rotten son of a... on October 20, 2003, 10:07:04 AM
Hmmm interesting interpretation...

Of course, that interpretation is based on the assumption that Harmonica is in fact "all good". I'm not so sure that things are as uncomplicated as that.

Another interpretation would be that Harmonica's first impulse was indeed to rape Jill. It would be natural for him to feel threatened by her - she represents civilization, matriarchy and the "new America", he represents the "old Wild West" and boy's/men's world that's dying. Thus, his first impulse is to "show her who's boss" (rather like Clint Eastwood does to the town belle in High Plains Drifter).

He stops himself because he sees that she doesn't enjoy his approach, thus proving that he possesses the one thing that Frank is lacking - empathy. Although both Frank and Harmonica belong to the same "ancient race" this is the one thing that divides them. This is what makes Harmonica good and Frank bad. The very same thing which separates Blondie from Angel Eyes.

The problem with this interpretation is of course that you will have to accept that Hamonica is pretty darn messed up when it comes to women. I do think this is the case however, as is clearly displayed in the "farewell scene". The guy can't even look Jill in the eyes! Leone seems to have been interested in this behaviour in men who have "damages souls" ("something to do with death") - whenever I see the scene in question, I am always reminded of Noodles' behaviour towards women. Not very flattering for our friend Harmonica, but I really think that Leone's intention was to make the character more complex than the mere stereotype of an "avenging angel".
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Walter on October 20, 2003, 10:40:43 AM
Hmmm interesting interpretation...

Of course, that interpretation is based on the assumption that Harmonica is in fact "all good". I'm not so sure that things are as uncomplicated as that.

Another interpretation would be that Harmonica's first impulse was indeed to rape Jill. It would be natural for him to feel threatened by her - she represents civilization, matriarchy and the "new America", he represents the "old Wild West" and boy's/men's world that's dying. Thus, his first impulse is to "show her who's boss" (rather like Clint Eastwood does to the town belle in High Plains Drifter).

He stops himself because he sees that she doesn't enjoy his approach, thus proving that he possesses the one thing that Frank is lacking - empathy. Although both Frank and Harmonica belong to the same "ancient race" this is the one thing that divides them. This is what makes Harmonica good and Frank bad. The very same thing which separates Blondie from Angel Eyes.

The problem with this interpretation is of course that you will have to accept that Hamonica is pretty darn messed up when it comes to women. I do think this is the case however, as is clearly displayed in the "farewell scene". The guy can't even look Jill in the eyes! Leone seems to have been interested in this behaviour in men who have "damages souls" ("something to do with death") - whenever I see the scene in question, I am always reminded of Noodles' behaviour towards women. Not very flattering for our friend Harmonica, but I really think that Leone's intention was to make the character more complex than the mere stereotype of an "avenging angel".


Interesting, very interesting take on the scene.
 It could also be that Harmonica wants to demonstrate that he indeed CAN rape her, but won't. Thus showing Jill that he is not the threat.  

But I like the idea that the scene's function is to show the main differnece between Harmonica and Frank. It is, after all, important to know whom to cheer for. That's how we get involved in the story; if all the characters are a-holes, who cares who gets killed?

Joe in FOD doea a kind thing in the movie, saving the woman, Blondie in GBU shows humanistic traits several times and Manco in FFDM shows respect to and helps out Mortimer. But the acts of humanity and kindness gets more and more diluted, confused and ambigiuous as Leone's films grow more ambitious.

I would not compare the scene with Harmonica with Eastwood's character in High Plains Drifter, though. The Drifter hates the town and everybody in it, and the rape must be seen as a part of the relentless plan that leads to the total humiliation of the entire society - and later the destruction of it.    

But we sure do agree in that Harmonica is one complicated piece of work! ;)


Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Groggy on October 20, 2003, 02:49:57 PM
Interesting, very interesting take on the scene.
 It could also be that Harmonica wants to demonstrate that he indeed CAN rape her, but won't. Thus showing Jill that he is not the threat.  

But I like the idea that the scene's function is to show the main differnece between Harmonica and Frank. It is, after all, important to know whom to cheer for. That's how we get involved in the story; if all the characters are a-holes, who cares who gets killed?

Joe in FOD doea a kind thing in the movie, saving the woman, Blondie in GBU shows humanistic traits several times and Manco in FFDM shows respect to and helps out Mortimer. But the acts of humanity and kindness gets more and more diluted, confused and ambigiuous as Leone's films grow more ambitious.

I would not compare the scene with Harmonica with Eastwood's character in High Plains Drifter, though. The Drifter hates the town and everybody in it, and the rape must be seen as a part of the relentless plan that leads to the total humiliation of the entire society - and later the destruction of it.    

But we sure do agree in that Harmonica is one complicated piece of work! ;)




I'm more in tune with your interpertation, Walter. ;D
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Austin on October 21, 2003, 04:41:23 AM
Yep -  certainly some interesting points here. I've always assumed he's symbolically stripping her of her civilised trappings too, to prepare her for her role as 'earth mother'.

Thinking about it - he sends her out to the well immediately after he's done this, to make Frank's two men charge to kill her. On a purely plot level, is he just distracting them (cos Claudia Cardinale's chest would distract me!!)?
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: The Smoker on October 21, 2003, 07:51:16 AM
Hmmm interesting interpretation...

Of course, that interpretation is based on the assumption that Harmonica is in fact "all good". I'm not so sure that things are as uncomplicated as that.

Well....... not one or the other. just human.

This isn't Hollywood. Leone films were Realist at heart, from his early background in film. It wears the western myth like a wolf in sheeps clothing.

As a genre, it has more in common with Japanese Samurai cinema a non-christian defined 'Goodies vs Baddies' idea.

But we are all on the same track i think.
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: KERMIT on October 21, 2003, 08:41:35 AM
cj nailed it for me.  walter eloquently described the situation. harmonica could, but would not go through with it.  jill, everyone, going through serious changes
 due to progress  :-\.....a most important product here.
al mulock, unfortunely not included.  :P  
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Groggy on October 21, 2003, 11:12:52 AM
Yep -  certainly some interesting points here. I've always assumed he's symbolically stripping her of her civilised trappings too, to prepare her for her role as 'earth mother'.

Thinking about it - he sends her out to the well immediately after he's done this, to make Frank's two men charge to kill her. On a purely plot level, is he just distracting them (cos Claudia Cardinale's chest would distract me!!)?

ROFTLMAO!!!  That would be my reaction.  ;)
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: KERMIT on October 21, 2003, 01:39:52 PM
cardinale's chest.  :)  a whole new subject to delve into.....but i don't look like the man who'll be doing the delving.....  :'(    
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Il Buono on October 29, 2003, 08:48:40 AM
lol

I always get the feeling that he is ripping her 'fašade' down as the civilized and respectable woman that she appears to be, because he knows somehow that she is a hooker.  
That's what I think about it, but I'm not sure because it is very confusing to me too.  All of the above seem very good interpretations, but somehow I don't get the feeling that he's surprised or repelled by himself and therefore doesn't rape Jill.
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: General Sibley on October 29, 2003, 11:03:07 AM
Maybe Sergio just liked it rough?  There was quite a bit of enthusiastic b-slapping going on in OUATIA too.
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Walter on October 30, 2003, 03:47:18 AM
Maybe Sergio just liked it rough?  There was quite a bit of enthusiastic b-slapping going on in OUATIA too.

I'd rather think that Sergio was just describing societies where the men liked it rough, as a rule. It is also a kind of critisism in it.  

And note that the manhandling of women and the consequences change a bit. In FFOD, the woman's only salvation is to run away.
FDM is much about the revenge against a molester/killer, thus, violence against women is not accepted.
In OUATITW, the woman actually wins; Cheyenne and Frank die, and Harmonica knows that his time (the time of gunfighters) is over. The "victories" over Jill (Frank's bizarre love-making, Cheyenne's intimidation of her,  Harmonica's threat) is all temporary, but she goes on into the future, popular and rich and in power. Even the patting of her behind that Cheyenne talks about, is controlled by herself. She doesn't have to put up with that kind of attention, so Cheyenne kindly askes her to, to reward the men.
And in OUATIA, Noodles indirectly destroys himself after the rape of his true love. She becomes an eternal, ageless beauty, he becomes a broken old man, sentenced to a lifetime of regret and remorse.  

Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Garry Cowell on October 30, 2003, 05:14:12 AM
Interesting thoughts but personally I think people are over analysing things...

Every time I've watched the film I've always felt that Harmonica was simply making more of Claudia's flesh visible - the rolling up of her sleeves, the ripping of her neckline - in order to entice/distract Frank's two killers from the hills.

Nothing more...

The fact Leone shoots it so at first it appears to be an attempted rape is merely to hoodwink the audience.
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Walter on November 01, 2003, 05:39:17 PM
Interesting thoughts but personally I think people are over analysing things...

Every time I've watched the film I've always felt that Harmonica was simply making more of Claudia's flesh visible - the rolling up of her sleeves, the ripping of her neckline - in order to entice/distract Frank's two killers from the hills.

Nothing more...

The fact Leone shoots it so at first it appears to be an attempted rape is merely to hoodwink the audience.

Overanalysing is half the fun...

I don't agree, obviously. I don't think the killers looked very distracted in the split second before Harmonica blew them away, so I don't subscribe to that point of view....

And for for the hoodwink... Okay, Leone had a western that already ran past 150 minutes, so he thought: Let's include a scene that means absolutely nothing.

I don't think so.......  :-X

Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Garry Cowell on November 03, 2003, 06:14:58 AM
I don't think the killers looked very distracted in the split second before Harmonica blew them away, so I don't subscribe to that point of view....
Maybe not distract, but I doubt they'd have bothered to come down to the farm - rather than bushwacking Jill as she left - if Harmonica hadn't have put Jill 'on a plate' for them.
And for for the hoodwink... Okay, Leone had a western that already ran past 150 minutes, so he thought: Let's include a scene that means absolutely nothing.

I don't think so.......  :-X
I don't understand? Hoodwinking the audience doesn't equate to a scene meaning nothing.

Ermmm...

Once Upon A Time In America - Runtime 225minutes.

...and arguable a whole 3rd of it is one long hoodwink! ;)  
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Walter on November 03, 2003, 10:40:30 AM
Maybe not distract, but I doubt they'd have bothered to come down to the farm - rather than bushwacking Jill as she left - if Harmonica hadn't have put Jill 'on a plate' for them.I don't understand? Hoodwinking the audience doesn't equate to a scene meaning nothing.

Ermmm...

Once Upon A Time In America - Runtime 225minutes.

...and arguable a whole 3rd of it is one long hoodwink! ;)  


You and your hoodwinks.... :P

I don't think we'll agree, even if we do clear up our differences in semantics. Just don't tell me that Harmonica fell asleep at the way station and dreamt the rest of the movie.  
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Sid the Pig on November 05, 2003, 04:00:22 PM
I have just watched the movie all over again and have decided upon this as my take on Harmonica and Jill's underwear. I think the tearing of the bodice has more to do with Leone's character than the character of Harmonica. You have to take into account that Leone originally wanted to film Jill getting of the train with the camera at ground level pointing up at Jill.
As she began her climb down, the folds of her dress would plunge the scene into darkness, and Leone wanted to suggest, or even hope to show, that Jill was not wearing any underwear. This shows both his feelings towards Ms Cardinale and her character Jill, and also allows us an insight into why Jill was a hooker at all, why not a schoolteacher?
I believe that this scene, although not filmed, was an example of Leone's darker and more human traits, and maybe one in which we all share, after all cinema both allows us and encourages us all to be voyeuristic.
Of course in much the same way as no blood and guts were liberally being splashed around in Leone's movies, the suggestion is far stronger than the reality. This was true of course up until the making of Once Upon A Time in America, a very bloody movie when compared to its predecessors.
In closing though I would say that Once Upon A Time on The West is my favourite Leone movie, and easily my best DVD purchase. I enjoyed the documentary interviews with both the stars and production team; it helped set the mood for watching a hugely enjoyable piece of cinema.
The soundtrack is fantastically moving and the characters all seem to display various sides of all our natures, good and evil.
Watching it reminds me of looking in a mirror, its not always pretty, but it is always fair.
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Groggy on November 05, 2003, 04:04:59 PM
I have just watched the movie all over again and have decided upon this as my take on Harmonica and Jill's underwear. I think the tearing of the bodice has more to do with Leone's character than the character of Harmonica. You have to take into account that Leone originally wanted to film Jill getting of the train with the camera at ground level pointing up at Jill.
As she began her climb down, the folds of her dress would plunge the scene into darkness, and Leone wanted to suggest, or even hope to show, that Jill was not wearing any underwear. This shows both his feelings towards Ms Cardinale and her character Jill, and also allows us an insight into why Jill was a hooker at all, why not a schoolteacher?
I believe that this scene, although not filmed, was an example of Leone's darker and more human traits, and maybe one in which we all share, after all cinema both allows us and encourages us all to be voyeuristic.
Of course in much the same way as no blood and guts were liberally being splashed around in Leone's movies, the suggestion is far stronger than the reality. This was true of course up until the making of Once Upon A Time in America, a very bloody movie when compared to its predecessors.
In closing though I would say that Once Upon A Time on The West is my favourite Leone movie, and easily my best DVD purchase. I enjoyed the documentary interviews with both the stars and production team; it helped set the mood for watching a hugely enjoyable piece of cinema.
The soundtrack is fantastically moving and the characters all seem to display various sides of all our natures, good and evil.
Watching it reminds me of looking in a mirror, its not always pretty, but it is always fair.


Welcome aboard Sid!  Yeah, if I came across a thirty-year old Claudia Cardinale, I think I'd feel much the same way. ;) ;D
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: General Sibley on November 05, 2003, 04:08:43 PM
nyuknyuknyuk - my guess is Harmonica was doing some wicked peyote.

I don't buy that whole dream sequence nonsense either.  Leone spent what - 14 years making OUATIA?  He got so stumped on the plot that he had to resort to a lazy "Dallas" screenwriting trick to pull his magnum opus storyline together?

And Schickel bases this grand theory upon an offhand comment a drunken Leone tossed out to a journalist at 3am during the 4th day of the Cannes festival?  "Was it all a dream Sergio? - 'Yeah, sure'!"  I don't think so, half of these film critics are morons.
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Sackett on November 13, 2003, 10:40:52 AM
Nope, you've got it all wrong.  Harmonica rips the bodice because he wants Frank's waiting men to believe that she is staying.  He knows they are out there. Jill is leaving all dressed up. He convinces her to stay and makes her dress look like she is out working.  Of course, Frank's men screw up big time.
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Sid the Pig on November 13, 2003, 03:15:49 PM
Yeah, I'll go along with that mate.
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Walter on November 27, 2003, 08:36:00 AM
Nope, you've got it all wrong.  Harmonica rips the bodice because he wants Frank's waiting men to believe that she is staying.  He knows they are out there. Jill is leaving all dressed up. He convinces her to stay and makes her dress look like she is out working.  Of course, Frank's men screw up big time.

You theory is very boring, not over-analysing things at all...

Unfortunately, it is also a very likely reason for the whole tearing business..... Good call.  ;)
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Sackett on December 01, 2003, 10:43:07 AM
Yeah, it does show a tougher side of Bronson, letting us know he'll get what he wants, which in this case is to try to fool the waiting assassins.  We already knew he was tough, wiping out 3 at the train, but this shows toughness without resorting to the gun.  Then Frank's idiots make another stupid play.
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: rddesq on January 04, 2004, 12:52:52 PM
The most simple explanation is usually the correct one.  I think Harmonica knows Frank's men are waiting outside and he rips the dress to make it look like he and Jill have been working or maybe fooling around a bit and are not on guard.  Note Harmonica takes off his gun at the well.  All of this makes Frank's men relax a bit and not start shooting as soon as Jill and Harmonica walk out of the house.  It is a set up.
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: JFM on January 04, 2004, 02:01:42 PM
Harmonica rips the bodice because he wants Frank's waiting men to believe that she is staying.  He knows they are out there. Jill is leaving all dressed up. He convinces her to stay and makes her dress look like she is out working.

Of course he knows they are out there. He keeps looking at them. While tearing up her dress, he gives Frank's men two long looks.

Besides, if Harmonica intended to rape Jill, why would he bother with her sleeves?

---
jfm
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Cusser on January 04, 2004, 07:07:28 PM
I think Harmonica did this to throw Frank's men off guard.  Remember, the two didn't even have their rifles cocked "strange noise".  Notice how Harmonica hides his gun under his hat, you can make out that he's doing this on the DVD, even though the gun is never shown going under the hat.
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: JFM on January 04, 2004, 08:09:07 PM
Notice how Harmonica hides his gun under his hat, you can make out that he's doing this on the DVD, even though the gun is never shown going under the hat.

Actually you can see him hiding the gun behind his back, briefly. You can also hear him cock his gun as he hides it under the hat bfore he places it on the well-side.

---
jfm
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: COLONNA on January 05, 2004, 07:39:54 AM
The most simple explanation is usually the correct one.  I think Harmonica knows Frank's men are waiting outside and he rips the dress to make it look like he and Jill have been working or maybe fooling around a bit and are not on guard.  Note Harmonica takes off his gun at the well.  All of this makes Frank's men relax a bit and not start shooting as soon as Jill and Harmonica walk out of the house.  It is a set up.

Perfect .It is the right explaination.
Harmonica said Jill something like: " It is not good to go outside currently"
Title: Re:Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: KERMIT on January 05, 2004, 11:32:52 AM
harmonica is telling jill early on in the film what cheyanne observes. get water to the men working. look sexy. improve moral. an get the town up.

Title: Re: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: cigar joe on October 24, 2007, 05:44:18 AM
Every once in a while you get something worth while off of an Imdb post, this is the best explanation of the lace tearing sequence that I've read.

Only one poster on our thread touched on it but didn't quite come this close.

(from rexknobus on Imdb.com)


Watch the scene again and pay real close attention to exactly what Harmonica does. He very clinically rips her dress apart, exposing her. He looks at her, not with lust, but with an artist's eye -- he's creating an image. He doesn't take any real pleasure in man-handling her. Look at his hands; he doesn't grab a quick feel. Look at his eyes; he looks away from her and outside. Then he sends her out to the well. He follows, grinning like an idiot, then does a slow turn as he takes off his jacket. The two assassins up on the hill see a beautiful woman with tussled clothing, and grinning fool who is unarmed and off-guard, off-guard because he just had a tumble in the hay with the beautiful women. Looks like a perfect time to ride in and kill them both. Ooops -- Harmonica had his pistol concealed in his hat and guns them down. Jill can only stare at him; not because he's the fastest gun, but because he's the smartest.
Title: Re: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Cusser on October 24, 2007, 11:45:09 AM
I can agree with that...
Title: Re: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: dave jenkins on October 24, 2007, 03:01:15 PM
That's an interesting interpretation, but requires giving the boys on the hill a lot of credit. I doubt they can really see many details from that distance. The standard reading is more likely: Jill with lace looks like a tourist passing through, but without it looks like someone who is settling in, doing the chores, not very anxious to move on. The boys were probably told to give her the benefit of the doubt, give her time to clear out, etc. But when it looks like she intends staying, they swoop in for the kill (and Bronson, who is hanging back, they probably don't notice at all . . . until it's too late).
Title: Re: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: geoman-1 on October 28, 2007, 09:34:16 AM
I agree Dave. I also think Harmonica was rough with her because she took a shot at him
the previous evening. But what else would he expect her to do???
Title: Re: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: poderator on November 05, 2007, 03:13:28 AM
I think rexknobus is right. And I think this scene where Harmonica tears up Jill clothes is not meant for those Frank's gangsters. It is a show for us. Leone took  a common clishe and turned it upside down. Tough unknown stranger is attacking beautiful widow, he is trying to rape her. Or does he? Sergio wanted to ruin our expectacions, and he suceeded entirely. If he doesn't want her body, then what does he want? Result: his actions are very odd to us, wich adds to the aureol of mystery around Harmonica's character. Also, this scene prepared us for future events in this movie. He is not after quick pleasure, that is what we can conclude from this scene; he is not after money either, we can see it from the auction scene and after when he returned "his farm" back to Jill.
So IMHO, this is only one step, a small revelation in Harmonica's character, which separates him from the other characters (all other characters are seeking some kind of materialistic satisfaction, at least at the begining of the movie; Jill-safety and money, Cheyenne-money, Frank-money, power, women).
Pleasures of our world have no meaning for Harmonica. IMO, the only two moments where he showed some kind of  emotions is (and I don't think it is coincidence both times in the interaction with Jill), bathtub scene-When he felt urge to explain to her why he spared Frank's life, and in the famous "someday" scene when he looks at her with those eyes. Jill is the only one that can reveal those "positive emotions" in Harmonicas mind, afection, maybe even love.
Of couse he felt something for Cheyenne when he dies, but those feelings are connected with Thanatos, Death and we can put them together with his feeligs about his brother.

 
Title: Re: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: dave jenkins on November 05, 2007, 10:40:13 AM
I think rexknobus is right. And I think this scene where Harmonica tears up Jill clothes is not meant for those Frank's gangsters. It is a show for us. Leone took  a common clishe and turned it upside down. Tough unknown stranger is attacking beautiful widow, he is trying to rape her. Or does he? Sergio wanted to ruin our expectacions, and he suceeded entirely. If he doesn't want her body, then what does he want? Result: his actions are very odd to us, wich adds to the aureol of mystery around Harmonica's character. Also, this scene prepared us for future events in this movie. He is not after quick pleasure, that is what we can conclude from this scene; he is not after money either, we can see it from the auction scene and after when he returned "his farm" back to Jill.
You've explained what Harmonica's actions are NOT, but you haven't said what they are. You are right that the stripping of the lace from Jill has dramatic impact, one SL intended for his audience. But SL's intentions are not Harmonica's. To put it another way, Harmonica doesn't know he is SL's puppet, he acts, from his POV, independently of the will of the director. So he has to have a reason for doing what he does, one that ties in with the plot. Stripping Jill is a strategy of some kind; he expects to gain some advantage thereby, and it has something to do with the gunmen on the hill. I've come to my own conclusion on the matter, but since we don't get a clear expression of intent from Harmonica, other interpretations are possible. That's part of the fun of the film.
Title: Re: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: poderator on November 06, 2007, 01:51:11 AM
I wrote this on IMDB while ago, and I was refering to the dilemma expresed in the first post on this thread; was he or wasn't he "forcing himself on Jill". I think there is no doubt whatsoever that he tears Jill's lace was for a purpose of setting his trap. It the way he did it that I find mostly interesting.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064116/board/thread/84473244?d=84539898#84539898
So I don't think anyone here is thinking that Harmonica wanted to rape Jill. It was a perfect trap, sort of speak. I was refering not to the why Harmonica did what he did, but HOW?  To set trap for Franks men, is why, HOW he did it, rexnobus already explained.
So both POV are equally important for a plot, WHY- in order to kill Frank's men, and HOW- for us to see his true agenda.  O0
Title: Re: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Huey on December 14, 2007, 05:14:34 PM
There is no doubt that Bronson was aware of the men on the hill and wanted to make Jill appear to be settled and staying, rather than overdressed and leaving.  For me, the crucial action by Bronson is to stop Jill getting his water from inside the house.  He makes her go out to the well - I like my water fresh - and this causes the two men to take their chance.
Title: Re: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: dave jenkins on December 14, 2007, 05:29:09 PM
Yes, it is the very picture of domesticity, a woman going out to the well for water. It is the action of someone planning to stay, hence, the decision by the men to ride her down.
Title: Re: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: dave jenkins on July 28, 2008, 12:45:11 PM
A Marxist perspective:

Quote
...Jill arrives in McBain's Sweetwater . . . wearing the fine clothes . . . that apparently her profession has enabled her to afford. Then Harmonica literally recuts her dress by tearing off the long sleeves and lace in a series of gestures that look like rape but turn out to be his attempt to mold her into some kind of superpeasant, whose now partially exposed breasts suggest her maternal relation to the new social order that is struggling to be born out of the masculine desert. (182, 183)

Quote
Harmonica cannot be killed because in some sense he is already dead. But, for the same reason, he is not really capable of love and the communal social identity that love makes possible. Yet he fosters such a community in his attempt to shape Jill into the kind of revolutionary subject he cannot be. After he recuts her fancy dress in the scene that resembles a rape, he tells her to fetch him some water from the well because he likes his water fresh. Though this request is actually a stratagem that enables him to gun down the men Frank has sent to kill Jill, it also articulates symbolically his relation to Jill, since he is part of death's landscape that only Jill's water can revive. Even Frank recognizes a tremendous life force in Jill that makes him regret having to kill her. In this respect, Frank, Cheyenne, and Harmonica share the same death drive that finds its only possible reversal in Jill's vitality, which takes the form of sexual pleasure for Frank, coffee for Cheyenne, and water for Harmonica. (185)
Work Cited
Patrick McGee, From Shane to Kill Bill: Rethinking the Western (2007)
Title: Re: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: Jill on August 03, 2008, 11:16:38 AM
So we got another man who says Harmonica is not a living man.  O0
Title: Re: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: dave jenkins on August 03, 2008, 02:32:14 PM
He may not be speaking literally . . .
Title: Re: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: TheManFromWilderness on August 03, 2008, 03:00:42 PM
   when I was a student in fine art faculty(movie depertment), I asked this one of my teacher,who also helped me to finish my thesis.Anyway He told me , Sergio Leone usually(not always of course) uses simple images and most of time he brakes all classic cliches.
 in this scene He does both of them.Charles Bronson appears like a rapist which is also very similar to Clint Eastwood (FOD).He tears off Jill's Lace just to terminate her New Orleans backround.Now she is in the middle of wild west!!!
  I will also share some interesting stuff about DYS and FOD!!!
 
Title: Re: Harmonica's Tearing of Jill's Lace Bodice
Post by: dave jenkins on August 03, 2008, 07:28:42 PM
Again, it is important to distinguish between proximate motives (why the characters do what they do), and ultimate motives (why the filmmaker has the characters do what they do). Harmonica has a specific stratagem in mind, one that requires a change in Jill's wardrobe. As it happens, this new look fits in with one of the narrative arcs of the story: the transformation of Jill from a New Orleans whore into the respectable proprietress of Sweetwater Station. And since Jill also functions symbolically--she is the personification of Civilization--the fact that Harmonica has a hand in that transformation speaks to one of the film's themes: violence makes civilization possible, but once it has begun, civilization must banish violence from its midst if it is to survive.