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Author Topic: Heroes who brutalize women...  (Read 4627 times)
SeanSeanSean
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« on: August 28, 2010, 11:00:36 AM »

There is a theme through the Once upon a time trilogy, where the hero brutalizes a woman.
This has always annoyed me and I wonder what that may say of Leone, especially in regards to women.

OUATITW: Harmonica pushes Jill down and tears her dress. Ironically Frank makes love to her.
OUATTR: Juan rapes the woman from the stagecoach.
OUATIA: Noodles rapes his one true love in the car.

Now whats that all about?

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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2010, 12:43:32 PM »

Not really I can't agree that its in the whole trilogy here is my take on Duck You Sucker:

"The Last Corrida"

I think I finally figured out Leone’s last corrida and its duel. I was watching Duck You Sucker for the first time in a long time which is my usual M.O. for Leone films and like recently, after watching “For a Few Dollars More” after a long dry spell I found myself zoning in on watching the facial expressions and eyes of the characters once again.

With this film Leone actually jump starts this zoning  for all of us during the Omnibus Robbery (could this be a first in Westerns?)  This Omnibus Robbery might also be the longest and most elaborately staged act of “highway robbery” ever filmed for a Western it runs about 20:16 minutes. Leone by continually focusing closer and closer to each passenger as they berate the lowly peasant Juan naturally is focusing the viewers attention to each of the characters their the eyes, their facial expressions, their lips and the words they speak. By being this close, basically conversational close, if you are an “face/eye reader” one who instinctively reads the face/eyes of the people you communicate (as opposed to a “lip reader”) with you will see that what sex deprived Adelita (Maria Monte) is saying and what she is actually communicating to Juan with her eyes, lips, mouth, and body movements are two entirely different things.

The sight and stink ( perhaps pheromones) of a real man are arousing Adelita as she feigns disgust with her words but  actually fantasizes about the sex life of peons. Shrewd Juan is keyed in to her body language and reads/observes that she is sex starved. When the Omnibus is finally stopped by Juan’s family he takes Adelita’s husband outside and asks him point blank if he “can make a baby?”, is Juan asking him if he’s impotent or if is it the best way an unsofisticated peon bandit like Juan can ask if he is a homosexual. Regardless, when he answers no, (the Last Corrida begins at 15:26) Juan calls for the senorita and then tells the husband that he “will fix that.”  She comes out on her own volition even telling one of Juan’s son’s to let her go and Juan helps her out and Juan escorts her with a pat on the ass into the corrida.

Here now begins Leone’s last corrida duel this time instead of a Mexican standoff between men to the death, we have the ancient, sexually charged, eye contact standoff  between a man an a woman, our raison d'être, The Mating Ritual. The setting starts on the corrida itself Leone's usual location for a duel to the death but this duel is for another end and not suited to the corrida, Juan quickly motions for Adelita to enter the "shelter" the barn/animal stall. There is even a bit of playful whipping to get her into the small "shelter" where her peon fantasies will become realized. She barely needs the coaxing All this eye to eye duel is accompanied by a weird Morricone “Amore” degüello. Juan’s asking with his eye’s and she concedes/surrenders with hers allowing the dance to begin. Juan exposes his gun/erection to her and she indeed does not look away but shows interest and an excited state, its all consensual (end of “Amore” degüello). Juan penetrates her and we cut ahead in time, the last corrida ends when Juan takes Adelita’s jewelry and thanks her (it lasted about 4:13). Cool stuff.

Ok now have at it  Afro

« Last Edit: August 28, 2010, 12:47:38 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2010, 08:21:27 PM »

Well observed, CJ. I think we have to agree that what happens between Juan and the señora is no rape.

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« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2010, 05:18:25 AM »

Concerning the actions taken by Harmonica against Jill Frayling disusses some explanations which only point towards rape figuratively their primary function being to show the preparition of Jill for her new 'mother' role at the end of the film. Her transformation from top whore to mother is symbolized by transfoming her couture into something more practical to wear in the new environment she has to adapt to.

Moreover he observes correctly that without the white quillings Harmonica removes from Jill's clothing she will be a harder to hit target for Frank's men at the well.
(Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone (Cinema and Society) / Christopher Frayling Tauris I B, London 2006)

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SeanSeanSean
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« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2010, 07:55:10 AM »

Brutality is brutality.
Without a woman's consent, sex is rape. No means no.
The «she was asking for it» line, is just a way of objectifying women.
Her free will is thus  secondary to the man's desires.
I'm not sure women were so objectified in the wild west.

IMHO, the 3 scenes that I mentioned don't add anything significant to the story line.
They say much more of the writers' mindset, Leone and his colleagues.


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« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2010, 10:00:26 AM »

Well-put Sean.

The DYS scene is the only one that's really troublesome in my opinion. CJ's analysis is spot-on but it is very revealing of Leone's worldview. What purpose does that scene serve, to show the decadence and hypocrisy of the ruling classes? Fair enough, but that's reinforced at other points throughout the film. It just comes off a creepy and disturbing distraction from things.

OUATIA's big rape scene is hard to watch but it's organic to the story and characters. I don't think Leone is in any way endorsing the rape or implying Deborah deserves it.

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« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2010, 10:13:35 AM »

The DYS scene is the only one that's really troublesome in my opinion. CJ's analysis is spot-on but it is very revealing of Leone's worldview. What purpose does that scene serve, to show the decadence and hypocrisy of the ruling classes? Fair enough, but that's reinforced at other points throughout the film. It just comes off a creepy and disturbing distraction from things.

OUATIA's big rape scene is hard to watch but it's organic to the story and characters. I don't think Leone is in any way endorsing the rape or implying Deborah deserves it.
Ditto.

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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2010, 11:21:51 AM »

...

OUATIA's big rape scene is hard to watch but it's organic to the story and characters. I don't think Leone is in any way endorsing the rape or implying Deborah deserves it.
Hum, I don't think he'd go that far either. But there seems to be an underlying misogyny.
Add the story about the opening shot of Jill from under her skirt.
Still Leone can be forgiven as a man of his time and generation.

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« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2010, 12:00:25 PM »

The issue there is more that Noodles is a misogynist and a perennial adolescent - from his life and background he doesn't really understand that women are anything but sex objects. I don't know how much that can be taken to reflect Leone's own sensibilities.

I think he gets something of a pass for Jill, who is a very strong character, but even she endures much brutality and violence (granted, no more than the film's other protagonists).

The stuff in DYS is just in very bad taste, though that may have been intentional. Still there's a none-too-subtle undercurrent of the woman getting "what she asked for" throughout that scene.

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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2011, 01:52:40 AM »

I do not see any evidence of misogynism in any of Leone's films.... (Perhaps, as with countless other "controversies, it's another invention of the modern radical feminist movement. SeanSeanSean: I do not mean anything personal against you. I have heard this criticism of Leone often and I disagree with it strongly; when I saw this thread, I just decided to take the opportunity to express my opposition to this notion that many have expressed Wink)

OUATITW: Harmonica is tearing off the frills on her dress (representing New Orleans) and making her more country-like, symbolizing his desire for her to stay in Sweetwater. Of course, we think it may be rape in the beginning, but movies often try to make us erroneously anticipate something that is not really about to happen (Eg. in horror films, we often see the protagonist terrified as he sees a shadow walking and scary music is playing... and then... he bumps into the shadow which turns out to be his little baby, and the audience breathes a sigh of relief). So we (and Jill) think that Harmonica is about to rape her -- just as she thought Cheyenne would earlier -- but we are mistaken. I don't see how that is misogynistic.

Frank does rape Jill. While she doesn't try to resist his sexual advances (and even seems to be an active participant in the sex act), she knows that if she resists, she is a dead girl. That is rape just as much as if she would have protested and physically resisted him. This act is far more despicable than Harmonica's tearing the frills off her dress. Frank is an evil sonofabitch who takes whatever he wants. Again, there is nothing misogynistic about this.

DYS: The woman in the stagecoach is clearly "asking for it." Her husband is impotent (Juan asks him "can you make a baby?" and he shakes his head). This bourgeoisie woman talks disgustedly about the immorality and decadence of the proletariat, as she is lustily (and longingly) lookin at Juan, and slowly popping cherries into her mouth. She is absolutely asking for it.


OUATIA: Both the rape of Deborah and Noodles' sexual encounter with Carol have bases in The Hoods .

Noodles's rape of Deborah is an act of desperation by a man whose lifetime dream has been shattered. (Of course, this was a despicable act which I in no way mean to condone; I am just discussing Noodles's reason for doing it). When she rejects him, he is completely beaten; then when she begins kissing him in the car, he no longer can (or wants to) control himself. The rape goes on for a very long time, which I believe is to demonstrate the extent of Noodles's brutality. Just like with the violence in his Westerns, I am sure that Leone's depiction of the rape -- as brutal and long as it is -- is a far more accurate depiction than a cleaned-up Hollywood depiction would be. Leone went for realism, not worrying about offending people who are offended by reality. The lifestyle of Noodles and his gang is ugly and brutal, and Leone depicts it that way and -- unlike some other movies -- never glamorizes it. Noodles is a gangster who takes what he wants no matter the consequences; when Deborah rejects him and shatters his dreams, he reacts in a manner typical of a thug. I will never understand how portraying male gangsters treating everyone they encounter -- including women -- in a violent, selfish, and cruel manner, can be viewed as misogynism.

As discussed by film critic Benjamin Kerstein in his OUATIA commentary (available on YouTube here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv6RG26iaM8 ), the scene of Noodles's sexual encounter with the masochistic Carol -- who is turned on by the gang's violence -- can be viewed as far more demeaning to women, yet did not raise nearly the controversy that the Deborah rape scene did. As Kerstein also notes, many real life gangster molls indeed were similar; ie. they had a certain perverse pleasure in the abuse they endured.

You may well argue that Leone had a very crude sense of humor; but I see no evidence whatsoever of misogyny. (Maybe the modern radical feminists need something to keep busy now that bra burning is so out of fashion...  Wink)

« Last Edit: May 18, 2011, 07:30:11 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2011, 07:15:50 AM »

Frank does rape Jill. While she doesn't try to resist his sexual advances (and even seems to be an active participant in the sex act), she knows that if she resists, she is a dead girl. That is rape just as much as if she would have protested and physically resisted him. This act is far more despicable than Harmonica's tearing the frills off her dress. Frank is an evil sonofabitch who takes whatever he wants. Again, there is nothing misogynistic about this.
Excellent point.  Afro

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« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2011, 08:07:49 AM »

she knows that if she resists, she is a dead girl.

We can't know that for sure, can we? I mean, we don't even know if he killed young Harmonica. Wink

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« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2011, 12:12:36 PM »

I mean, we don't even know if he killed young Harmonica. Wink
But that would mean . . . Harmonica was always a ghost? Freaky!

Btw, what's the consensus, can ghosts have evil twins?

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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2011, 01:47:40 PM »

But that would mean . . . Harmonica was always a ghost? Freaky!

Btw, what's the consensus, can ghosts have evil twins?



Think about the possibilities and liberties we could take with the interpretations of the character's background with that itsy-bitsy addendum!

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« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2011, 05:51:14 PM »

We can't know that for sure, can we? I mean, we don't even know if he killed young Harmonica. Wink

do you really think for a moment that if Jill had resisted Frank, he wouldn't have forced himself on her and/or killed her?

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