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Author Topic: No Confusion about Sean or John  (Read 18830 times)
geoman-1
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« Reply #45 on: July 13, 2007, 05:27:48 PM »


Do you really think that Leone would have made such a big mistake, ie instead of putting just another information at the end, he would have made a big revelation about a plot we don't care at all, since the story is about revolutions and friendship, not about a cliché love story? Morever, what is the point of the final discussion with the doctor if Coburn killed his friend because of a girl?
Exactly! Leone was too sophisticated to fall into that trap.

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« Reply #46 on: July 05, 2012, 10:50:24 PM »

so I just watched that "Sorting Out the Versions" special feature on the dvd. I must have seen it when I first bought the dvd, but never since: I don't remember any of it. Glenn Erickson wrote and edited the piece (did he also narrate it?) discusses the issue, among other things, of the Coburn character's name. (I know this has been discussed extensively but I just saw the piece so I wanted to discuss some of the issues that Erickson mentions).

According to Erickson, Coburn's name is definitely John. He says the only 2 sources for the name Sean are A) the promotion materials for the movie; plus B) Coburn's initial response when Steiger asks him his name, before quickly correcting himself and saying "John." Otherwise, the name John is used throughout.

According to Frayling, it's the same name; Sean is Irish for John. Erickson rejects this answer (though he does not mention Frayling by name); because the Irish newspaper that Sean is carrying around also says John Mallory. Erickson doesn't seem to be concerned with explaining away A) he just focuses on  B) According to Erickson, Coburn is dreaming a lot about his old friend, whom Erickson claims is named Sean (despite being called only "Nolan" in the script).  According to Erickson, John (played by Coburn) betrayed Sean (played by David Warbeck) to the British, cuz he wanted the girl for himself. And John has been walking around all these years with this terrible guilty conscience about that betrayal. Like the ghost of Sean has been haunting him all these years. Since he is dreaming a lot about Sean, when Juan asks him "what's your name," (which I believe occurs just after the first flashback?) he briefly responds "Sean," cuz he's been dreaming about Sean, before quickly correcting himself and saying his real name.
(and btw, not that this means anything at all, but on imdb, it says that the character played by David Warbeck is named "Sean Nolan." Is this copied from the official cast list?)

I agree with Erickson on one specific point: the fact that the Irish newspaper calls him John Mallory makes it difficult to believe that his real Irish name is Sean, and that John is merely the English version.

However, I find this idea that it was Coburn who betrayed Warbeck kind of ridiculous. So Coburn -- who was a revolutionary -- betrayed Warbeck, another revolutionary, to the British, because he wanted the girl for himself; then Warbeck ratted out Coburn? Come on. Please. There ain't no way that one revolutionary would rat out another revolutionary; not cuz of idealism, but cuz of pragmatism: how the fuck could Coburn expect Warbeck to do anything other than to rat him out in turn? And then wtf does it mean when Coburn tells Villega that he only judged once? As Erickson describes the Coburn-Villega relationship, Village is a "fellow guilty informer." But the what the fuck did he "judge"? He "judged "Warbeck for banging his girlfriend? And Besides, in the scene where Warbeck rats out Coburn in the pub, the British soldier asks warbeck, "is it him?" So it is clear that that Warbeck has been tortured into revealing the identity of Coburn the revolutionary. if it was true that Coburn ratted out warbeck out of jealousy, and then Warbeck in turn ratted out Coburn, wtf would the soldier be asking "Is it him?" So i don't buy this theory of Erickson's at all; I don't even believe there is a 1% possibility that it is correct.

Sure, I believe it's true that Coburn is haunted, but it's not because he ratted out Warbeck to get the girl for himself. Rather, he is haunted by the fact that he killed Warbeck -- Coburn shouldn't have judged Warbeck: Warbeck only ratted out Coburn because he was tortured, and therefore, Warbeck didn't deserve to be killed.
Coburn had "judged" Warbeck, and for that, Coburn is guilty. And in the end, perhaps Coburn achieves a measure of redemption cuz when a similar thing happens with Villega -- he betrays revolutionaries cuz he is tortured -- Coburn refuses to judge him. So there is a parallel between that moment in the two revolutions: in both cases, one person betrays others after being tortured: in the first, Coburn "judges" him, and kills him. In the second, Coburn -- perhaps because he has grown up, perhaps cuz he no longer believes in revolution, perhaps because he has become more humane -- refuses to "judge" the betrayer; thereby redeeming himself.

If you adopt Erickson's approach, the parallel between the two is lost. While I am unsure as to the issue of the Coburn character's real name, I unequivocally reject Erickson's assertion that Coburn ratted out Warbeck to get the girl, and that is what's been eating at Coburn all this time.

« Last Edit: July 05, 2012, 11:31:06 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #47 on: July 05, 2012, 11:08:50 PM »

Continuing with Glenn Erickson's opinions discussed in previous post: Now we come to the final flashback. (Remember, the whole point of this segment by Erickson is to point out the distinctions between the various versions of the movie), Erickson says that in the older, cut versions, the brief flashbacks seem to just be about Coburn's idealistic, beautiful memories of Ireland. But with the restored final flashback, we see that it is about more than that, there's much more negativie elements than that. Erickson mentions how  in that final flashback, the music changes when the girl goes from Coburn to Warbeck, indicating a tension about the love triangle. Erickson points out that the musical change is associated with the flashback scene in the pub, which, according to him, involves Coburn betraying Warbeck. So, according to Erickson, this final flashback explains it all -- we see now why it is that Coburn betrayed Warbeck -- cuz Warbeck took his girl.

So how do you explain Coburn's final smile? Erickson acknowledges this difficulty, and simply says that "it is ambiguous." Sorry Glenn, but that doesn't satisfy me.


IMO, we can't know anything for sure unless we know which musical cue in the final flashback is correct. As  discussed in the thread about the soundtrack comparison: http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=10181.0
 in the UK dvd, the music continues uninterrupted, which IMO indicates that Coburn was at peace with Warbeck sharing his girl, consistent with the final smile. (And further showing the depth of the Warbeck's betrayal: ie.  they were such close friends, even happily sharing the same girl, yet Warbeck betrayed Coburn).
But in the restored MGM dvd, where the music changes once the girl moves from Coburn to Warbeck, that would indicate tension over this love triangle. So why Coburn's smile at the end of that flashback?

Well, it's hard to know how to interpret it all without knowing which musical cue is correct.

In a recent post in that thread, UNCKNOWN says he believes that the restored version of the music is correct. http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=10181.msg156174#msg156174
 IF that's the case, then there would be tension over the love triangle. (IMO, it is pretty clear that there is at least SOME tension; after all, we see Warbeck trying to push Coburn away from the girl, even while smiling. But not a major sort of tension, that would harm their friendship). If there is indeed tension and it is not a happy love triangle, then I do not understand Coburn's smile at the end of the final flashback. (Please don't say "it's a devious smile, cuz he knows he is about to betray Warbeck to the Brits.") As I said in the previous post, I completely reject that theory of Erickson's.

However, THE CLINT vigorously disputes that the SE is the correct version http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=10181.msg157989#msg157989


So I still don't think we know for sure what the correct music is. It would really, really, really be awesome if we knew the answer to that.

« Last Edit: December 24, 2013, 03:44:21 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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