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Author Topic: my opinion on the friendship, growth of the two characters  (Read 10149 times)
Groggy
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« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2008, 07:38:41 AM »

Fair point Juan. Just because Juan wasn't educated doesn't mean he is stupid. There's definitely a cleverness and some innate intelligence there. It's more subtle than Tuco's survivor's cunning in GBU but it's still quite evident if you pay attention. He is a bit naive (at least in the first half) and he is rather base, crude and even animalistic but that has no bearing on intelligence.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2008, 08:00:52 AM »

Juan Miranda, you're sane and at liberty!

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« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2008, 08:55:55 AM »

This sucks, coming back from vacation after two days. There's 3 or 4 people that I want to respond to. Now I'll have to figure out how to do this...



Perhaps not, but your comments were more than enough for me to discern that you weren't a big fan.


I like the movie itself. [shrug] Note that I gave it 4/6 on my personal SL scale. Which just means it's behind things like GBU, OUATW and FOD. I just whittled my post down to the opinions with the most poignancy. And why write with marshmallows when there's razor wire?

I just have a few minor complaints. In fact, now that I thought about it over the weekend, I can use other SL films to illustrate my point:

1. I never accepted that Juan and John were friends.

There's a scene in GBU where our heroes are riding in a wagon, and you know darn well that Blondie knows that Tuco has just had a falling out with his brother. But he doesn't mention it or bug him about it. THAT is an act of friendship. When Mallory hands Juan the gun? That is an act of "sympathy for an Every Man." After all, he was a freedom fighter. It was his nature.

I just feel like by the train crash at the end, the movie had poured the the water, mixed the cement, but the friendship had never set. And that is a disappointment.


2. Mallory's back story could and should be cut.

I'm going to use Mortimer as an example on this one. Now Mortimer had a cool back story. Leone has this technique where he teases you with images of a flashback --- soundless to boot. So you sit there and go, "Who is that? What's happening?" After seeing FAFDM, I fully expected Mallory's backstory to come to this amazing revelation at the end. "Luke, I am your father." But it didn't. It was just fluffy moosh. And if it's not going to contribute to the story --- whack! Like a chicken on the chopping block.

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« Reply #18 on: June 02, 2008, 08:57:48 AM »



Coupled with this is Leone's preoccupation with violence and it's relationship to childishness and an inability to grow up, something he would develop to a greater extent in his final picture. Looking back at Juan's "visions" of Mallory and Mesa Verde, yes the animations are cheesy, however as seen as point of view shots they are perfectly apt. Juan is a peasant with no formal teaching. As a child much of his imagination would have been formed by the Church. From a Catholic country with a Fascist past, Leone and his collaborators would have been perfectly aware of the way Church and state can conspire to keep a population in a never ending state of immaturity (the theme of Fellini's AMACORD which came out two years after Leone's film). As such a character like Juan would have though in the Gothic imagery we see here, with the Eucharist appearing in the bank at Mesa Verde and the holy scroll hanging over Malloy's head (Leone is cheating though, we see a text, but Juan is illiterate and he wouldn't be able to read it). As such he is remains as much as an impulsive child as his extended family. One of the most moving moments of the film is when the Mirandas blissfully arrive at the beautifully tiled station of Mesa Verde to Morricone's haunting tune of the same name. And anyway, is a violent spaghetti western really the place we expect to see a bandit as a role model to his children??

Leone is never really known for his dialogue. Yes we can all rattle off some classic, pithy one liners but not whole blocks of oratory. His illiteracy aside, Juan gives the best speech of any character in any Leone picture when he delivers his opinion on revolutions, a fantastic slab of cynicism to which Mallory has no reply ("They're DEAD! That's your revolution"). He is not as thick as either the coach passengers nor Mallory originally think he is. As the whole "present" of the narrative is revolutionary based and reflected Leone's own disillusioned world view at the time, Mallory's backstory is essential not only for establishing his immensely complex feelings of guilt, but also to bring that classic Marxist preoccupation, class into the mix.




Juan Miranda, I really want to write back individually to this post. It just kind of left me speechless and stumped. Especially your comment about "a fantastic slab of cynicism." Gorgeous. You may have single-handedly changed my opinion on Juan... I'm not sure. Give me 24 hours to think about it.




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dave jenkins
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« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2008, 09:42:30 AM »

There's a scene in GBU where our heroes are riding in a wagon, and you know darn well that Blondie knows that Tuco has just had a falling out with his brother. But he doesn't mention it or bug him about it. THAT is an act of friendship.
No, that is an act of ironic detachment. Tuco merely gratifies Blondie's sense of humor. The relationship between Tuco and Blondie is an unequal one, but friendship is not involved. On Tuco's side, friendship is feigned (and very badly--more merriment for Blondie) in order that Tuco might exploit Blondie. Tuco's motives are entirely transparent, and therefore, Blondie's view of his companion is Olympian. You would think Blondie would be anxious about the threat Tuco poses, but in fact a god has nothing to fear from a rat. The one anticipates the actions of the other, offers a bit of occasional guidance to help him run the course, takes delight watching him come through the maze to his reward. And once play is exhausted, the god leaves the rat in his maze and moves on, seeking other stimulus.

This is very different from the John-Juan dynamic, which shows certain similarities to the Blondie-Tuco one early on but undergoes a sea change before the final credits. The gun offering is merely a station on the way, not the final destination. That comes at the end, when a dying Mallory makes Juan a heart-felt apology for not delivering on his promises, and Juan, by shaking his head, indicates that no apology is necessary. It takes the whole movie, but friendship--male friendship--can be just such a long, attenuated process.

If you say you don't get it, that it doesn't communicate to you, I'll believe you. And in a firefight, I'll be asking someone else to guard my back.

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« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2008, 04:27:53 PM »

Leone is never really known for his dialogue. Yes we can all rattle off some classic, pithy one liners but not whole blocks of oratory. His illiteracy aside, Juan gives the best speech of any character in any Leone picture when he delivers his opinion on revolutions, a fantastic slab of cynicism to which Mallory has no reply ("They're DEAD! That's your revolution"). He is not as thick as either the coach passengers nor Mallory originally think he is.

Okay, so Iíve changed my opinion on Juan, who I said was thick and that made him boring. And it wasnít just because I got all wooed by JMís eloquent pen. (Well maybe a little.)

Sometimes I fully expect that to happen. I actually found Harmonica pretty boring until someone explained him to me. Sometimes thatís all it takes.

Maybe what makes Juan interesting is that he keeps surprising his audience, as JM suggests. He does so when he outwits the upper class on the wagon, he defends the death of his family ówho yes, he treated like CRAP when they were alive--- and he even surprises Mallory with his politics (which would have been construed as pretty laissez faire when we first meet him.)

I feel like DYS should go up 1 more point on my IMDb rating because Juan is suddenly more interesting. If only for the exotic idiom, ďa fantastic slab of cynicism.Ē Dang!

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« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2008, 04:36:59 PM »

No, that is an act of ironic detachment. Tuco merely gratifies Blondie's sense of humor. The relationship between Tuco and Blondie is an unequal one, but friendship is not involved. On Tuco's side, friendship is feigned (and very badly--more merriment for Blondie) in order that Tuco might exploit Blondie. Tuco's motives are entirely transparent, and therefore, Blondie's view of his companion is Olympian. You would think Blondie would be anxious about the threat Tuco poses, but in fact a god has nothing to fear from a rat. The one anticipates the actions of the other, offers a bit of occasional guidance to help him run the course, takes delight watching him come through the maze to his reward. And once play is exhausted, the god leaves the rat in his maze and moves on, seeking other stimulus.

What?? I think Tuco and Blondie had a friendship. A comically doomed friendship, of course, but a friendship nonetheless. [thinking about it] Okay, maybe they just had better chemistry. How about that? Tuco and Blondie had more chemistry.

Half the problem with the Juan/John character dynamics is that it gets sidetracked by the introduction of Dr. Villega. Heís like a third wheel, a road bump. Iím not saying heís extraneous, but he sadly diffuses the spotlight halfway through the movie. By the time I had figured out his piece in the puzzle, I had completely forgotten about Juan. I mean the guy had been off screen for 30 minutes! That includes the 3 minutes spent showing Malloryís tedious backstory Roll Eyes which is one more reason it should be cut.

Groggy asked earlier which version I had seen. I donít know. It must have been the longer one.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #22 on: June 02, 2008, 05:33:12 PM »

Half the problem with the Juan/John character dynamics is that it gets sidetracked by the introduction of Dr. Villega. Heís like a third wheel, a road bump. Iím not saying heís extraneous, but he sadly diffuses the spotlight halfway through the movie.
And yet he's so necessary for the film's theme. In plot terms his betrayal parallels Nolan's, allowing Mallory NOT to do to him what he had done to his old friend. DYS is about friendship, but it's not strictly about the relationship between Juan and John. There is still the relationship between Mallory and Nolan that haunts the film to the end, and the actions that Mallory took once upon a time that must be expiated. The friendships, though, are connected: laying the ghost of the first allows the fulfillment of the second (however briefly).

Again, we can talk and talk about this stuff, but your time is better spent watching DYS repeatedly. The film is its own best advocate.

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