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Author Topic: All the Bodies.......  (Read 11839 times)
Tuco the ugly
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« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2008, 04:43:49 PM »

Hey, these are some very interesting thoughts. I don't know why the river in GBU has never struck me as a symbol before, because you're right, it is an obvious threshold to the place of the dead. And in ancient Greek mythology, one had to cross the river Styx to get to the underworld; even now, in gospel and folk traditions, the idea of "crossing the Jordan", another river, is tied to ideas of death and the afterlife.

And the river battle puts the idea across beautifully, since living men must come to the river before "crossing over" to the land of the dead. Maybe the bridge explosion is also symbolic: Tuco and Blondie shut the door to the underworld, so that no one but themselves can pass through. Of course, they, and AE, can always go across: each has something to do with death.

If you ask me, that part of the movie can only be watched through the prism of symbolism. There is nothing realistic in it.

Tuco and Blondie are captured by the soldiers and taken to the drunk captain that runs the whole show. He says that the bridge is the most important military goal for both the armies. Yet, if you look the anarchy that dominates the place, it is hard to believe that an 'epic battle' is gonna happen there any time soon. (Unless, the soldiers are all already dead, but they just don't know it yet. Maybe they're just waiting for the tickets to the place of no return.)

The demoralization of the soldiers is more than obvious, which is strange, if they must win this battle at all costs. Somebody important should be there, giving the orders and raising the moral. Perhaps a general... certainly not a drunk clown. Looks like everybody left them. (Unless that whole show is a fake, and the soldiers are dying for nothing.)

Then, you realize that on the other side of the river lies a cemetery. Interesting, why would anyone fight over a cemetery? What important can there be? (Yes, there's the cashbox, but it doesn't contain enough for whole armies to fight for it.)

Another interesting thing is that you never see the 'other ones', the soldiers on the other side of the river. You never see their faces, as if they are not important, or as if the don't even exist. So, are the 'Union boys' fighting against themselves? Wouldn't make any sense...

After the battle is done, in relatively short time everyone and everything is gone (let's agree that not even Tuco can not lie with his ass pointed towards the sky that long). Only the dead and half-dead are left behind, as if they don't mean nothing. Also the guns and canons are also left behind (even loaded), just as they disappeared in a blink of an eye.

Someone would say absurd.

But, if you sum all those things, you get one of the most effective anti-war metaphors ever seen in a movie.

In the end, it really doesn't make any difference if all that was real, just as it doesn't make any difference if Harmonica is an angel (of death) or not. The metaphor serves only as a carrier of judgment, you can interpret it as you like, but the message will always be the same.

War is hell, if you have anything to do with it, you're already dead (like all those soldiers near the bridge). Whether you accept it or not it doesn't make any difference.

« Last Edit: August 06, 2008, 04:46:29 PM by Tuco the ugly » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2008, 06:05:22 PM »

probly wasnt a cemetery to begin wit Dave, jus anothr weed patch

bt thy were fightin over th bridge fr so long, an killd so many, thy had to bury em somwhere

thy prob had a cemetery on both sides
Possibly, but it isn't shown, and what counts is what we see on the screen. Anyway, a literal reading of a film doesn't exclude other (allegorical, anagogical) readings. I probably wouldn't bother if it wasn't an SL film. But after OUATITW, with its abundance of myths and archetypes, I can't help but apply a Jungian approach to GBU and the earlier films.

« Last Edit: August 06, 2008, 06:09:37 PM by dave jenkins » Logged


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« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2008, 06:39:38 PM »

If you ask me, that part of the movie can only be watched through the prism of symbolism. There is nothing realistic in it.

Tuco and Blondie are captured by the soldiers and taken to the drunk captain that runs the whole show. He says that the bridge is the most important military goal for both the armies. Yet, if you look the anarchy that dominates the place, it is hard to believe that an 'epic battle' is gonna happen there any time soon. (Unless, the soldiers are all already dead, but they just don't know it yet. Maybe they're just waiting for the tickets to the place of no return.)

The demoralization of the soldiers is more than obvious, which is strange, if they must win this battle at all costs. Somebody important should be there, giving the orders and raising the moral. Perhaps a general... certainly not a drunk clown.
I agree that this isn't consistent with what we know of Civil War campaigns, it has more of a WWI feel to it. There is a sense, at this point, of the Civil War/WWI/WWII being collapsed into this single engagement, a kind of Armageddon, if you will.  It's the archetypal battle.

SL didn't have time or opportunity to show the rebel preparations for the battle. I think that's why he gave us instead the dying confederate soldier that Blondie comforts (interesting, isn't it, that he is found not on or near the Union side, where he should have fallen in battle, but already in the Land of the Dead?). As with the Confederate fort sequence, we see that the men in gray are worthy of our pity. Death has no favorites.

The fact that after the battle no one is around means that the living have moved off, as they always do, at least for a time. But they'll all be back one day.

I personally don't think SL comes on too strong as anti-war. He obviously sees the mechanization of war as detrimental to personal endeavor (including individual combat: after all, his heroes are warriors). Perhaps the point of the film is that we all have to die, but we should negotiate the terms of our death ourselves, not cede the details to any organization or government. Better to be the Good, the Bad, or the Ugly, rather than the Mediocre.

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« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2008, 08:38:23 PM »

Possibly, but it isn't shown, and what counts is what we see on the screen. Anyway, a literal reading of a film doesn't exclude other (allegorical, anagogical) readings.

don those 2 statements cancel each othr out

if wat ya see is wat ya get, how can ya read anything else into it

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« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2008, 06:13:32 AM »

I love the metaphorical meaning, and I can't say I disagree - although I'm not sure that I'd take the negative conclusion from it. Perhaps the bridge represents limbo, and now the armies are able to move on. Certainly they seemed trapped there before, I'm not sure it would be correct to draw a negative conclusion from the destruction of the bridge.

It struck me odd, too, that a Captain was in command of what must be at least a regiment. Perhaps the original Colonel was killed and the Captain was the highest-ranking surviving officer?

On a literal level, though, the whole battle makes zero sense. The bridge in and of itself can't be of THAT much importance to have two armies fighting over it constantly (although to be fair, the forces involved seem fairy limited). The Battle of Rohrbach/Burnside Bridge at Antietam was part of a larger battle and did have some importance (it would allow him to flank the Confederate Army), even if Burnside's decision to waste hours attacking it was stupid and necessary. I can't imagine that a large-scale battle, let alone a lengthy siege, would center around one bridge in the middle of nowhere. Unless, of course, it was the only bridge in the area - but even then, we see Blondie and Tuco quite easily wade across it. Perhaps it was part of a larger battle or campaign that we never get to see, but again we never get any indication of that.

I think the whole scene is more of an anti-war allegory than anything else.

« Last Edit: August 07, 2008, 06:16:55 AM by Groggy » Logged


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Tuco the ugly
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« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2008, 06:30:10 AM »

That is what I'm talking about, Groggy. Afro

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« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2008, 12:25:20 PM »

On a literal level, though, the whole battle makes zero sense. The bridge in and of itself can't be of THAT much importance to have two armies fighting over it constantly (although to be fair, the forces involved seem fairy limited).

I think the whole scene is more of an anti-war allegory than anything else.

I think that's the point - that each side felt that the bridge was important to the other side - that they had to fight for it - the absurdity of it is classic.  Even Tuco said about what might happen if the bridge was to be blown up: "then these idiots will go somewhere else to fight", as anti-war as Blondie stating he'd never seen so many lives wasted so badly. 

I always thought Leone did a great job of getting the anti-war message through, although it "appears" to be a sub-plot

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« Reply #22 on: August 07, 2008, 01:59:19 PM »

I think the anti-war idea is too easily overstated. SL's approach to the subject is more nuanced. After all, GBU isn't The Red Badgeof Courage or Paths of Glory. The soldier's lot in GBU is contrasted with the adventures of Blondie and Tuco, who are themselves warriors, although warriors without a flag. And SL cannot condemn fighting out of hand or he would have no subject for his films. His heroes are quite unashamedly killers.

There is also a matter that Frayling does a good job of treating. War isn't bad for everyone as it turns out:

Quote
With a splendid sense of construction, the war enters the narrative to save the lives of Blondie and Tuco on various occasions. A mysterious confederate coach, marked 'CSA Headquarters 3rd Regiment', appears from nowhere, in the middle of the desert, to distract Tuco's attention and protect Blondie from being shot. A mortar shell smashes the floor and prevents Blondie from being hanged. As Tuco is being thumped by the slobbish Sergeant [sic] Wallace, a Northern train pulls into Betterville station and saves him for the time being. Tuco cuts through his handcuffs by draping the chain over a railway line; a Northern troop train does the rest. Confederate mortar fire provides a convenient smoke-screen, from behind which Blondie and Tuco can systematically pick off members of the Bad's gang. The battle for Langstone Bridge provides a means for crossing the river and at last reaching the gold. Sad Hill cemetery hides the prize they are all after. (209)
And it could be added, without the war, there would be no treasure to hunt in the first place. War, bad for the soldiers participating in it, has been berry-berry good for Blondie and Tuco.

While I have Frayling at hand, it might be good to consult him on other matters raised in this thread. Here's an interesting note regarding the drunk Union captain:

Quote
To add to the eclecticism, the Union captain's speech about how whisky is 'the most potent weapon in war—the fighting spirit is in this bottle' was apparently based on a passage in Emilio Lussu's book Un anno sull'altopiano/A Year on the Plains, another disenchanted novel about the First World War. (214)

Finally, Frayling has an interesting quote from SL regarding the making of--and purpose of--Sad Hill:

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Leone wanted  'a cemetery which could evoke an antique circus. There wasn't one in existence. So I turned to the Spanish chief of pyrotechnics who had been in charge of the construction and destruction of the bridge. He lent me 250 soldiers who built the sort of cemetery I needed: with 10,000 tombs. Those men worked solidly for two days. And it was done. This wasn't a whim on my part. The idea of the arena was crucial. With a morbid wink of the eye, since it was the dead who were witnesses to this spectacle. I even insisted that the music signify the laughter of corpses inside their tombs . . .' (237)

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Tuco the ugly
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« Reply #23 on: August 07, 2008, 10:32:35 PM »

I think the anti-war idea is too easily overstated. SL's approach to the subject is more nuanced. After all, GBU isn't The Red Badgeof Courage or Paths of Glory. The soldier's lot in GBU is contrasted with the adventures of Blondie and Tuco, who are themselves warriors, although warriors without a flag. And SL cannot condemn fighting out of hand or he would have no subject for his films. His heroes are quite unashamedly killers.

The soldiers were recruited against their will, while Blondie and Tuco chose to become what they've later become.

There's a difference.

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« Reply #24 on: August 07, 2008, 10:44:13 PM »

The soldiers were recruited against their will . . .
No, in 1862 they were all still using volunteers I think.

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Tuco the ugly
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« Reply #25 on: August 07, 2008, 11:35:55 PM »

Yeah, sure they were...

... and the Indians are living a happy and above all prosperous life in the reservations, where they willingly moved, with the  righteous concurrence of the government(s) of the United States of America, from 18-whatsoever.

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« Reply #26 on: August 08, 2008, 12:00:30 AM »

Yes it's true. The US didn't even have an Selective Draft Service until the first world war. So as far as Each countries army's are concerned, they were all volunteers

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Tuco the ugly
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« Reply #27 on: August 08, 2008, 12:06:24 AM »

Be assured my friend, Draft Service or not, one way or another, people were sent to fight in that war by someone.

Watch OJW.

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« Reply #28 on: August 08, 2008, 12:13:11 AM »

Well of course there are exceptions, but as far as the law is concerned, there was no objective means of forcing someone into war. In those times, when law was rather flakey, that kind of thing was not necissarily rare. but i think it's rather presumptious to assume that whole regiments were made up of slave labor. If that were the case there would be no reason for them to stay, they could easily outnumber their commanding officer. No, the majority of troops were in fact volunteers. Granted the south probably had more troops considering most of them viewed the war as a defense of their homeland.

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« Reply #29 on: August 08, 2008, 12:17:08 AM »

I just looked it up. The Confederates adopted a draft law in April '62, the Union in August of that year. I don't know how quickly they were able to get the process moving and get bodies out to the front lines. I know in the case of the Union each state was responsible for doing their own inductions, and I guess they could set their own timetable. For our purposes, is conscription a factor in GBU? It's difficult to say. Certainly, the New Mexico campaign was over before any of the draft laws were passed. But if we follow Cigar Joe's timeline, Blondie, Tuco, and AE don't get to Sad Hill until July. So none of the Union soldiers at Langstone Bridge could have been conscripts, but I don't have enough info to say about the Rebs. Does anyone (CJ? Groggy?) know?

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