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stanton
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« #90 : May 01, 2014, 06:36:27 AM »

(ctd. From previous post)
This gave Leone the idea of adding a dreamlike section to the film of the againg gangster trying to make sense of his past, trying to deal with his past, living in a fantasy world.

Plus, this was Leone's homage to the American Gangster Film (just like OUATITW was his homage to the American Western film). A homage to "a certain cinema" that he grew up on, that was his dream; the dream of cinema, as discussed, Leone said to Scorsese that movie should have been called Once There Was a Certain Cinema.
(and please don't be dumb enough to ask why Leone then didn't make OUATITW as a dream, too. It was a dream in a different sense - you don't sell the dream of a lifetime ;) ) ..... "ONCE UPON A TIME" - a fantasy.
 Plus there is the American Dream - the point of the God Bless America song that plays at beginning and end of the movie - Leone himself (like the gangsters in this movie) had a sort of shattered American Dream, how his childhood vision of a great America was somewhat shattered when he saw the American GI's for the first time...

Anyway, if you read Leone's statements about what he intended - and if Leone's intent means anything to you - all the scenes that follow Noodles's visit to the opium den are, on some level, a dream.

Not in the actual film.

How comes that I watched the film several times without ever assuming that it could be a dream. Also I don't remember anyone writing about the film for 20 years and calling it a dream. If Leone wanted that to be a dream, he totally failed.

And then, again, why should of all Leone films just the least dreamlike one being the one of which large parts should be an actual dream? I understand what Leone says when he calls his films dreams, dreams of a genre, but also for that, OUTA is the least Leone film which feels like a genre dream.
Terms like "dreaming of a genre" or "the American dream" are very, very different from turning an actual film into a dream. Watch Mulholland Drive, there you have a brilliant film in which large parts of the film could be, or must be interpreted as wishful thinking, and above all it serves the film.

« : May 01, 2014, 07:35:59 AM stanton »

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« #91 : May 02, 2014, 05:05:55 AM »

The whole point of the movie ending at the opium den and ending by freezing the the final smile is that it is that the smile is the framing device for the film - or at least for the dream sequences, ie. Everything that chronologically follows the smile.
I don't see it as a framing device. I'm not locked into the notion that everything on the screen contributes to the story. At the end, Leone goes back and abstracts a detail of the film that has already happened, its function in the story already fulfilled. The final sequence in the film is commentary, not narrative.



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« #92 : May 02, 2014, 11:08:00 AM »

I view it also as a commentary.

And if used as a framing device the film must have opened also with the opium den, but it doesn't.


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« #93 : May 02, 2014, 11:25:24 AM »

If it's all literal, no way would a man that owns a gun choose to kill himself in what would be an incredibly painful way by getting crushed in a garbage truck.


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« #94 : May 03, 2014, 04:23:51 AM »

If it's all literal, no way would a man that owns a gun choose to kill himself in what would be an incredibly painful way by getting crushed in a garbage truck.

Like Chris said, we don't know what happened, we don't know that he killed himself in that scene, or like in the screenplay that some 2 other guys killed him and throw him in the truck.

And if he killed himself, why not accepting this in a film in which a fortune is hidden in a railway station locker and a gangster becomes a politician. In movies things like that are not a real problem when it serves the story or makes some great visuals. Not to mention other things which are hard to believe compared to the "real" life.

« : May 03, 2014, 12:04:19 PM stanton »

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« #95 : May 03, 2014, 07:26:22 AM »

Remember, Max had already staged his "death" to start a fresh life once, maybe he did that again.


Leone seemed fascinated by such, like the end of My Name is Nobody.

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« #96 : May 04, 2014, 01:32:22 AM »

But at least with the garbage truck scene there's no debate on Leone's motives or intentions.  He deliberately wanted the disappearance of Max (or somebody who looked like him) to be ambiguous and to have parallels with the mysterious disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, which is still unexplained today.  And of course Jimmy's disappearance actually happened, it wasn't imagined or part of a dream.

  

Yes, Jimmy Hoffa was a real person who really disappeared. Does that mean you can't have a movie with a character partially based on him that is operating as a dream? And needless to say, while one of the theories about Hoffa's death is that he died in a garbage truck, nobody says he jumped in there intentionally. Which leaves my original question: if the movie is completely literal, there is no goddamnmotherfuckingwayinhell that a man that owns a gun and wants to commit suicide would choose to die in a garbage truck. So, you say, Leone wanted to preserve the ambiguity? Well, if this is all literal, what's the point of preserving the ambiguity about whether Max really died? Remember, if this is a dream, at least part of the point is that Noodles is trying to deal with this betrayal of his friends, and he is smoking opium and dreaming about the future as a way of dealing with it, and fantasizing about the future, and about an alternate reality: maybe he really wasn't the betrayer after all; maybe he was actually the betrayed! So, there's a dream-like ambiguity – in dreams, you are never certain of anything – about what happened to Max. But, if this is all a literal story, it's really just a straight-up mystery. "So you thought Max was betrayed and dead? Haha, you're wrong, we fooled you; he's the betrayer and alive."  ::) Big deal. I mentioned previously that you don't lose any of the themes of the movie if it's a dream. In fact, I think you gain more. A literal mystery is superficial, the themes of this movie are so much deeper. Take one example: TIME. In a dream, there is no time. Time is manipulated. In a plain mystery, you have the references to Time (like the pocket watch the boys steal from the drunk) but it's so much more effective in a dream world.
And btw, in the restored scenes, the movie is even more of a mystery (e.g. mysterious car following elderly Noodles; mystery in cemetery, etc.) again, IMO a straight-up mystery is much less effective in presenting the themes of the movie if the story is happening literally.




BTW, RE: the garbage truck scene: it is true that Leone wanted the disappearance to be somewhat mysterious; they used a body double for Woods for that scene, it's not Woods himself, to add to the ambiguity. BTW, on pp. 457-458 of STDWD, Frayling says, RE: the filming of that scene: "James Woods had overrun his contract and returned to America, and Sergio Leone needed a figure in a dinner jacket. Even before Woods left, Leone had told the actor, 'I want it to be sort of you, but not you.' " Frayling goes on to describe how Claudio Mancini suggested that, during a break in the filming, they try to find a body double. "Leone was far from convinced; this was stretching the ambiguity. But Luca Morsella managed to track down a man who had once doubled for Gregory Peck, and whose physique was fortuitously similar to that of Woods..."


HOWEVER, Woods himself says at 9:38 of this vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd0IlhYRS6I that he was indeed on the set when this scene was filmed, but Leone used a photo double cuz he "wanted it to be a little confusing whether it was me or not, and he said, 'It's like Jimmy Hoffa: We know, but we don't know... but we know."


-----

all those who says it is definitely not a dream have to explain away way to much. yes, they have tried to offer explanations for some of these problems (why the final smile? why the 1930's cars in 1968? why the pagoda? etc.) but at a certain point, when you have to explain away one problem after another, it makes so much more sense to go with the dream interpretation; everything falls into place, and you don't have to explain away all these problems. (Please, I don't wanna hear about the color TV  ;) )

---



IMO bottom line is it comes down to this: do you, as a viewer, give a damn about Leone's intent? There is zero doubt that Leone intended that in some way, one some level, with ambiguity/double meanings/whatever, this is a dream. (E.g. Read STDWD from the bottom of p. 423- 425. And if you haven't seen it yet, watch this vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOxhq227RhI at the 00:46 mark, where Leo Benvenuti, one of the screenwriters, talks about how after the first screening in the Barberini Cinema in Rome, someone asked Leone about the significance of the final smile, and he Leone responded that maybe, just maybe, it could all be an opium dream. And stanton, you are wrong to say that the dream interpretation was never mentioned in the first 20 years after the movie was released; look at footnote #62 on p. 517 of STDWD, where Frayling mentions several sources [including one from 1995 and one from 1986, in addition to the quotes by Leone himself, some of which were made on pp. 191-192 of Noel Simsolo's book] that discuss the opium interpretation.)

So, if you don't give a damn about Leone's intent, or if you think he failed miserably in his intent, well, that's your opinion. But it's an absolute fact that Leone intended in some way, on some level, with some double-meaning/ambiguity to have this as a dream. So, for me, if Leone intended it as a possible dream, and it makes perfect sense as a possible dream - even more sense than the literal interpretation - then I am more than happy to go with the interpretation that the movie is operating on some level as a dream  :)

« : May 04, 2014, 03:31:57 AM drinkanddestroy »

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« #97 : May 04, 2014, 02:36:40 AM »


all those who says it is definitely not a dream have to explain away way to much. yes, they have tried to offer explanations, and they may make sense for one or two of the problems, but the dream interpretation explains these things much more easily and clearly, and IMO correctly. For example, why the final smile? Why the pagoda? Why the 1930's cars in 1968? Why would a man kill himself in a garbage truck if he has a gun? Yes, the anti-dream people have tried to say, "It was a costume party, the garbage truck allows Max to possibly disappear again, the pagoda is a reference to this or that, etc etc etc." but IMO it's just way too much that you have to try to explain away, the dream interpretation explains these things much more clearly and satisfactorily. I think what bothers you anti-dreamers is that you feel that if you support the dream interpretation, then it's like the whole thing never happened. "And then I woke up --- haha, I fooled you, it never happened." But that's not the case: all the themes and ideas of the movie remain just as strong - heck, they may even be strengthened - with the dream interpretation.

Drink, you should closer read what I write.

I don't have exact explanations for the ending, quite the contrary I think these things are not really real, or must not be viewed as real. Still I don't view them as a dream, and especially not as part of a bigger dream which embraces half of the film. Still it does not explain why apart from the ending the whole 1968 time level never feels like a dream. If you say that 1968 is a complete dream, well then you have much more to explain than those who think that the ending is absolutely real. Then you should better explain why everything before feels as "real" as the rest of the film.

And to say it again, for me the ending feels not real, but also not as a dream. More like a vision which melts reality with surreal moments. It's an unusual ending for a film, and it works because it this only at the end.

You only interpret it as a dream because of a few min at the end, and that's not enough for me. And for these few min you can find easily a literal meaning, but even more important I must not have a literal explanation and still I'm able not to support the dream theory. It can be unreal without being part of dream. Ans that's what I already wrote several times.



Quote

IMO bottom line is it comes down to this: do you, as a viewer, give a damn about Leone's intent? There is zero doubt that Leone intended that in some way, one some level, with ambiguity/double meanings/whatever, this is a dream. (E.g. Read STDWD from the bottom of p. 423- 425. And if you haven't seen it yet, watch this vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOxhq227RhI at the 00:46 mark, where Leo Benvenuti, one of the screenwriters, talks about how after the first screening in the Barberini Cinema in Rome, someone asked Leone about the significance of the final smile, and he Leone responded that maybe, just maybe, it could all be an opium dream. And stanton, you are wrong to say that the dream interpretation was never mentioned in the first 20 years after the movie was released; look at footnote #62 on p. 517 of STDWD, where Frayling mentions several sources [including one from 1995 and one from 1986, in addition to the quotes by Leone himself, some of which were made on pp. 191-192 of Noel Simsolo's book] that discuss the opium interpretation.)

I haven't said that it was never mentioned (read me closer), only that I can't remember any mentioning. Big, big difference. That means, it was possibly mentioned here and there, but it never became part of the main interpretation of the film. While when you talk about e.g. Mulholland Drive you can't do this without talking about the narrative break in the film. But you can write about OUTA without ever talking about that dream thing.
Also I never denied the possibility of it being a dream or an opium hallucination. But I view it only as a vague possibility which is not carried enough by the actual film. Regardless of Leone's intentions before shooting the film, the above quote by Leone (" ... maybe, just maybe ... ") also only refers to its vagueness.

Quote
So, if you don't give a damn about Leone's intent, well, that's your prerogative. If you agree that Leone intended to have this as a possible ambiguous dream but failed miserably in his intent, well, that's your prerogative. If you think the movie makes more sense as a strictly literal film, and therefore prefer to think of it that way regardless of Leone's intent, well, that's your prerogative. But if you say that the whole dream theory was made up by some people years later and that there was no intent on the part of Leone to have this as a dream in any way, well in that case you are flat-out wrong. (I don't want to slay any straw men; I'm not saying anyone here is arguing that. I don't know if they are. All I am saying is that) IMO, if Leone says the movie is supposed to be a possible dream, and it makes perfect sense to me to view the movie the way Leone intended it - in fact, it makes much MORE sense to me that way - then yeah, I'll view it that way. Theoretically, if I didn't like the dream interpretation but believed Leone intended it to be a dream, then how would I feel about it? Would I go with Leone's interpretation over my own which I preferred? I have no idea, because that never happened to me. I see no reason not to go along with Leone's intention here - in fact, I see every reason to indeed go along with it, so I do.


Of course I do care for Leone's intents, but generally spoken I must not care about them. We discussed this before, and imo I can interpret a film against the intentions of the director, and then my view of the film (if reasonable) is as "right" as that of its maker. There can be more than one "truth" exist about one film. But I'm sure you won't understand this now, as you did not in the past.
Let's view the "intention" thing the other way round, must we now first check the director's intentions before we watch a film? And what if the director talks bullshit or tells lies about his intentions? Do we still follow his "intentions"? How do we know that we can trust him? Why should we don't believe what we think we see in a film. From that point of view it is indeed less important what a director, a critic or god says about a film, but it is instead important what I think about a film. Even if I'm maybe sometimes completely wrong.

The point about OUTA is, as far as I experienced it, most people watch OUTA without thinking that it all or greater parts of it were a dream. It is a possibility, yes, but not a sure one, not a necessary one.



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« #98 : May 04, 2014, 03:07:55 AM »

Let's view the "intention" thing the other way round, must we now first check the director's intentions before we watch a film? And what if the director talks bullshit or tells lies about his intentions? Do we still follow his "intentions"? How do we know that we can trust him? Why should we don't believe what we think we see in a film. From that point of view it is indeed less important what a director, a critic or god says about a film, but it is instead important what I think about a film. Even if I'm maybe sometimes completely wrong.





this is obviously ridiculous. depends on the situation. depends on a lot of stuff. I am talkinga bout OUATIA, not every theoretical movie/interpretation ever made/offered. We don't have to get into the theoretical ridiculous in order to discuss OUATIA.

In the case of OUATIA, the dream interpretation fits very well. Just because I didn't think of it the first time I watched the movie doesn't mean it's not legit. I've never smoked opium and have no idea about its effects. I certainly didn't understand the significance of the final smile and when I heard the dream interpretation offered (I forgot where it first was) it made sense. And the more I read about it, the more it made sense. The fact that many viewers didn't figure it out on their own is not an argument against it: as we've said a hundred times, there was an intent of ambiguity, it's not a clear AND THEN HE WOKE UP, so, yes, just like the viewer at that first showing in the cinema in Rome that Leo Benvenuti was talking about, I was unsure of it and when given that interpretation, it made sense to me. And reading all that Leone said about it - and not only Leone, but others like Martin Scorsese - has convinced me more and more that it makes sense as a dream. It's not like Leone said, "Believe it's a dream," and I responded, "Yes, Master, I will." Rather, after reading about the dream explanation, it makes a lot of sense to me, and that's that.

And no matter what explanations have been attempted, I've never seen one that is close to satisfactory in explaining why the movie end sin the opium den and closes on the final smile. Yes, many have been offered; but i can't believe that anyone offering them is fully satisfied with them. The dream interpretation is a completely satisfactory one for that final smile. And again, the dream interpretation doesn't mean the movie is meaningless; quote the contrary. On some level, it is a dream. But all the themes and ideas and beauty of the movie still remain.


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« #99 : May 04, 2014, 03:25:42 AM »

that's stupid


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« #100 : May 04, 2014, 03:27:53 AM »

A1 has various scripts for the movie on his site http://msb247.awardspace.com/ (click the "Links and Downloads" link on bottom left of the home page). I've downloaded these already onto my computer. I think these are the same ones at the links your provided earlier

« : May 04, 2014, 03:31:03 AM drinkanddestroy »

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« #101 : May 04, 2014, 03:35:19 AM »

this is obviously ridiculous. depends on the situation. depends on a lot of stuff. I am talkinga bout OUATIA, not every theoretical movie/interpretation ever made/offered. We don't have to get into the theoretical ridiculous in order to discuss OUATIA.
Well, we have. At least if we want to look at films and the world form a more complex point of view.

Quote
In the case of OUATIA, the dream interpretation fits very well. Just because I didn't think of it the first time I watched the movie doesn't mean it's not legit. I've never smoked opium and have no idea about its effects. I certainly didn't understand the significance of the final smile and when I heard the dream interpretation offered (I forgot where it first was) it made sense. And the more I read about it, the more it made sense. The fact that many viewers didn't figure it out on their own is not an argument against it: as we've said a hundred times, there was an intent of ambiguity, it's not a clear AND THEN HE WOKE UP, so, yes, just like the viewer at that first showing in the cinema in Rome that Leo Benvenuti was talking about, I was unsure of it and when given that interpretation, it made sense to me. And reading all that Leone said about it - and not only Leone, but others like Martin Scorsese - has convinced me more and more that it makes sense as a dream. It's not like Leone said, "Believe it's a dream," and I responded, "Yes, Master, I will." Rather, after reading about the dream explanation, it makes a lot of sense to me, and that's that.
Still you can't explain why most of it doesn't look like a dream, and how comes that Noodles sees the future as it is (more or less), and not like a vision or like a notion. It could make sense when Noodles in his mind changes his past, but for the future it does not work in a film like OUTA. It could work in a David Lynch film, but not in a Leone film.

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And no matter what explanations have been attempted, I've never seen one that is close to satisfactory in explaining why the movie end sin the opium den and closes on the final smile.

My interpretation, my way to view the film, is for me much more satisfactory than yours. Obviously, if you would see the satisfaction of it we wouldn't need to discuss that here. Or not?

Quote
Yes, many have been offered; but i can't believe that anyone offering them is fully satisfied with them. The dream interpretation is a completely satisfactory one for that final smile.

What you want is an obvious explanation, one that explains everything. I don't need that. I accept it as ambiguous or as a final comment on Noodles thinking. And it works very well.
Quote
And again, the dream interpretation doesn't mean the movie is meaningless; quote the contrary. On some level, it is a dream. But all the themes and ideas and beauty of the movie still remain.

I don't think it is then meaningless, but the film is then in parts for me then all wrong. The film is then less good for me. As I said, with the dream theory I would lower my rating from 8 to 6/10. Still not a bad film, but one with great structural deficits.


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« #102 : May 04, 2014, 04:01:11 PM »

that's stupid

and funny


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« #103 : May 04, 2014, 05:21:11 PM »

Yeah, I laughed and laughed.



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« #104 : November 09, 2021, 09:45:45 AM »

Once Upon a Time in America - 10/10
This has been my favorite movie for many years - probably since I?ve been posting on this board, a month short of 15 years ago. Still is. And even more incredibly so, I discover drastically new things about it every single time. There?s
plenty of dents and flaws in there, it?s not the most ?perfect? Leone movie, but it is his best. And the best movie ever made, and probably the best movie that will EVER be made.


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