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: The Genius of the Blondie & Confederate Soldier Scene  ( 4360 )
Jenko Morningstar
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« : November 04, 2022, 06:24:06 PM »

I watched this movie last year, and I'm no film expert (more of a comic book nerd!) but just upon first viewing, it became my favorite of all the ones I've seen. Seen it like 40 times already, and not exaggerating. The thing I love the most about this story is how it handled its social commentary on war.

It shows the Civil War as a background conflict that sometimes interferes with the story, and manages to do it in a very organic and natural way. It doesn't feel forced AT ALL, and doesn't take away from the spectacle and the fun aspect of it all. These moments mostly document the tragedies and horrors of war, a raw observation of mankind and the saddest aspects of it. It felt a little too depressing and nihilistic to me at first, thought it was brilliantly handled, but wasn't in love with it because I think stories nowadays have an excess of those two.

Now, up to the point where Tuco and Blondie were walking to the cemetery I didn't know how to feel about Blondie. This was the first Dollar movie (the first Western, actually) I'd seen and didn't know if he was good or bad, but he certainly came off as a jerk who's only interested in personal gain. The death of the Captain was a relatively good action, but it wasn't like Blondie did that purely as a gesture of good faith, since it's all about getting across the river to get the money in the end.

However, Blondie finds a Confederate Soldier dying on a chapel, looks at him for a couple of seconds, and then covers him with his coat. He also gives him his cigar before the Soldier finally dies.

I can't tell you how much this blew my mind, because it managed to pull off an EXCELLENT character moment, a PERFECT closing of the Civil War storyline, and a very subtle COMEDY scene at the same time.

1.It revealed that Blondie was hands down a good person in the end, displaying pure compassion and unselfishness. Made the character more tridimensional, and likeable!

2.It broke the pattern of the Civil War context interfering with the story to present you its tragedies, by having a character actually taking action towards it, demonstrating that generosity isn't lost even in the most violent of times. It's the opposite of nihilistic, it's optimistic. And all of the tragedies we'd seen before, all of the killing done, put a more powerful spotlight on this tiny action of good: it's a PERFECT way to show the virtue of humanity without denying or hiding from the ugly stuff, without being cookie-cutter/milk toast optimistic.

3.And it can also be interpreted as subtly comedic because giving the Soldier a cigar while he's agonizing, and him accepting it, is a bit funny to me, but without being too explicit about it.

I'm certain there are many other reasons this scene works so well. As a person who grew up on the Marvel superhero movies of today, it's very satisfying to know that an entertaining, action-packed story that actually handles real life social commentary in a subtle and nuanced way exists out there. Believe me, Marvel's been trying a hand at doing this in their stories recently with racism and feminism...and the results have been disastrous, to say the least. No point of comparison with Leone, to the point I'm actually ashamed of mentioning the company that brought you "She-Hulk" and "Falcon & The Winter Soldier" in the same post as this SW masterpiece. I'm sorry for the length of this, but what a great film!!

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« #1 : November 05, 2022, 06:32:34 AM »

It shows the Civil War as a background conflict that sometimes interferes with the story, and manages to do it in a very organic and natural way. It doesn't feel forced AT ALL, and doesn't take away from the spectacle and the fun aspect of it all. These moments mostly document the tragedies and horrors of war, a raw observation of mankind and the saddest aspects of it.
What you say is correct, but with Leone there is always more to say. For example, there is this very significant observation from Something to do with Death:
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 Wallace, a Northern train pulls into Betterville station and spares 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 smokescreen, from behind which Blondie and Tuco can systematically pick off members of the Bad's gang. The battle for Langstone Bridge provides a means of crossing the river and at last reaching the gold. Sad Hill cemetery hides the prize they are all after.
Frayling 209

Leone and Vincenzoni are ironists, and a lot of GBUs power comes from the way the film demonstrates the truth of irony in life. The war kills; it also saves. The fact that both aspects are shown helps create the "organic" quality you speak of. And also, such an even-handed approach prevents the tone of the film from ever becoming preachy.



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Jenko Morningstar
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« #2 : November 05, 2022, 08:55:26 AM »

What you say is correct, but with Leone there is always more to say. For example, there is this very significant observation from Something to do with Death:Frayling 209

Leone and Vincenzoni are ironists, and a lot of GBUs power comes from the way the film demonstrates the truth of irony in life. The war kills; it also saves. The fact that both aspects are shown helps create the "organic" quality you speak of. And also, such an even-handed approach prevents the tone of the film from ever becoming preachy.

That's an amazing observation, thanks DJ! I didn't really think about that! Nor did I remember reading it from the GBU chapter in Frayling's book.

Another scene of the film related to the war that left me thinking about it was when the soldiers get a photo taken before Tuco and Wallace enter the train. I find it helps develop this documentary-like, objective way of seeing the war. It's not all tragedy.

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« #3 : November 05, 2022, 10:14:44 AM »

1.It revealed that Blondie was hands down a good person in the end, displaying pure compassion and unselfishness. Made the character more tridimensional, and likeable!
Thank you for making this point. Frayling, and Tarantino after him, claim the "Good" title bestowed on Blondie is ironic. It ain't so. He is not absolutely good, only relatively so, in comparison with Tuco and AE. But the film's moral categories do in fact speak to the differences between the characters. Neither Tuco nor AE would have shared their tobacco with a dying soldier.



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« #4 : November 06, 2022, 06:34:16 AM »

"I've never seen so many lives wasted so badly"

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« #5 : November 06, 2022, 02:38:32 PM »

Are you selling those? I wear an XL.



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« #6 : November 07, 2022, 07:57:35 AM »

Are you selling those? I wear an XL.

No, not me.  Saw a link on Amazon  https://www.google.com/search?q=i%27ve+never+seen+so+many+lives+wasted+so+badly&hl=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjl8sL6qZz7AhV8J0QIHTMhCxkQ_AUoAXoECAIQAw&biw=1408&bih=637&dpr=1.36

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« #7 : November 09, 2022, 10:32:49 AM »

Thank you for making this point. Frayling, and Tarantino after him, claim the "Good" title bestowed on Blondie is ironic. It ain't so. He is not absolutely good, only relatively so, in comparison with Tuco and AE. But the film's moral categories do in fact speak to the differences between the characters. Neither Tuco nor AE would have shared their tobacco with a dying soldier.

Sentenza gave a bottle to a confederate soldier.Of course it was a way to get infos about Carson location more easily,
but when the soldier gave him back the bottle, he refused it and let him keep it. You can also see that seeing the horror
of war does something to him.

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« #8 : November 09, 2022, 05:01:51 PM »

Sentenza gave a bottle to a confederate soldier.Of course it was a way to get infos about Carson location more easily,
but when the soldier gave him back the bottle, he refused it and let him keep it. You can also see that seeing the horror
of war does something to him.


Yea Good, Bad & Ugly are all relative terms


"When you feel that rope tighten on your neck you can feel the devil bite your ass"!
dave jenkins
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« #9 : November 10, 2022, 12:18:59 PM »

Thank you Jenko Morningstar and sentenza_. Your comments have spurred my thinking, and caused me to produce this:

As has been mentioned before, good and bad are moral categories; ugly is an aesthetic one. Why does the title suddenly introduce this other category? Aside for its shock effect (always a consideration when minting a new title), there should be some meaning behind it. Happily, these are more than abstract terms: we have concrete characters to match them to.

Blondie of course is "the good" because, even though he may actually kill more people than anyone else in the picture, he does things like giving that dying soldier a smoke. He does it instinctively, without giving it any thought. Most of us share that instinct, it's a mark of our common humanity. When we see such acts of decency, we are cheered. We know that Blondie is one of us.

But that instinct can be driven out, as we see in the example of AE. He is capable of distinguishing good and evil, but he prefers evil. He is a sadist. He may claim to have a professional obligation to see a job through, but it doesn't look like he feels any conflicting emotions when dispatching Baker. He clearly enjoys his work. On the occasion when he gives the sergeant at the Confederate fort a bottle, he's trading alcohol for information. AE does nothing kind without an ulterior motive (letting the man keep the bottle after they're done talking ensures the sergeant's continued good will). He's merely being pragmatic. All other things being equal, however, AE will choose to do what is bad, in any situation, simply because it gratifies him to do so.

Now we come to Tuco. He no longer possesses the instinct for altruism that Blondie has, but he isn't the degenerate that AE has become. He is totally indifferent to those around him, unless they have something he wants, or they are a threat to him.  Tuco doesn't recognize abstract moral categories; he sees everything in terms of whether a thing is good or bad for Tuco, nothing beyond that. He is like an animal (hence his bestial nicknames, "Rat" in English, "Pig" in Italian).

So ugly, an aesthetic term, is used to denote a character who lives beyond morality, as the animals do. Understood this way, the title can be translated The Moral, the Immoral, and the Amoral. Perhaps these categories have universal application.

There are three kinds of people
. . ..



"McFilms are commodities and, as such, must be QA'd according to industry standards."
Jenko Morningstar
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« #10 : November 12, 2022, 11:34:13 PM »

Thank you for making this point. Frayling, and Tarantino after him, claim the "Good" title bestowed on Blondie is ironic. It ain't so. He is not absolutely good, only relatively so, in comparison with Tuco and AE. But the film's moral categories do in fact speak to the differences between the characters. Neither Tuco nor AE would have shared their tobacco with a dying soldier.
Oh, absolutely. Tarantino sees this situation as Leone being kind of cynical about it, but I see it more as bugging the viewer for the sake of a surprise later: why would this greedy con artist be designated as "The Good"?? We don't have a fully satisfactory and clear answer until this scene, in my opinion

Jenko Morningstar
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« #11 : November 12, 2022, 11:40:16 PM »

"I've never seen so many lives wasted so badly"

I need some GBU merchandise in my life. Think I'll buy a poster from eBay that I saw the other day, it was surprisingly cheap for its presumed size!!

Jenko Morningstar
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« #12 : November 13, 2022, 12:08:18 AM »

Sentenza gave a bottle to a confederate soldier.Of course it was a way to get infos about Carson location more easily,
but when the soldier gave him back the bottle, he refused it and let him keep it. You can also see that seeing the horror
of war does something to him.
Thanks for pointing it out, Sentenza! The character of Angel Eyes is fascinating to me, because he is indeed civilized, and can show empathy towards others. We see this clearly in the expression he makes when he contemplates the soldiers left behind by the Confederation, and by how he leaves the bottle to the Soldier he interrogates. It's nuanced, Angel Eyes it's not all bad. But it may be this capacity he has for being civilized and showing empathy what makes him WORSE than the other two main characters, morally speaking.

Where was this capacity when he physically abused and robbed the soldiers in Batterville, or when he killed the defenseless and sick Baker in his bed? (which was completely unnecessary, because the person he was supposed to be reporting to, Stevens, was already dead and he had no reason to apply his "always follow job through" code, and besides, a sick old man wouldn't have made any trouble for his search of the gold unless he hired another gunslinger, but he already has five henchmen to protect him).

Jenko Morningstar
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« #13 : November 13, 2022, 12:13:20 AM »

Thank you Jenko Morningstar and sentenza_. Your comments have spurred my thinking, and caused me to produce this:

As has been mentioned before, good and bad are moral categories; ugly is an aesthetic one. Why does the title suddenly introduce this other category? Aside for its shock effect (always a consideration when minting a new title), there should be some meaning behind it. Happily, these are more than abstract terms: we have concrete characters to match them to.

Blondie of course is "the good" because, even though he may actually kill more people than anyone else in the picture, he does things like giving that dying soldier a smoke. He does it instinctively, without giving it any thought. Most of us share that instinct, it's a mark of our common humanity. When we see such acts of decency, we are cheered. We know that Blondie is one of us.

But that instinct can be driven out, as we see in the example of AE. He is capable of distinguishing good and evil, but he prefers evil. He is a sadist. He may claim to have a professional obligation to see a job through, but it doesn't look like he feels any conflicting emotions when dispatching Baker. He clearly enjoys his work. On the occasion when he gives the sergeant at the Confederate fort a bottle, he's trading alcohol for information. AE does nothing kind without an ulterior motive (letting the man keep the bottle after they're done talking ensures the sergeant's continued good will). He's merely being pragmatic. All other things being equal, however, AE will choose to do what is bad, in any situation, simply because it gratifies him to do so.

Now we come to Tuco. He no longer possesses the instinct for altruism that Blondie has, but he isn't the degenerate that AE has become. He is totally indifferent to those around him, unless they have something he wants, or they are a threat to him.  Tuco doesn't recognize abstract moral categories; he sees everything in terms of whether a thing is good or bad for Tuco, nothing beyond that. He is like an animal (hence his bestial nicknames, "Rat" in English, "Pig" in Italian).

So ugly, an aesthetic term, is used to denote a character who lives beyond morality, as the animals do. Understood this way, the title can be translated The Moral, the Immoral, and the Amoral. Perhaps these categories have universal application.

There are three kinds of people
. . ..
Thanks for sharing this DJ, this analysis is VERY accurate and interesting. I saw this video essay on the moral categories of the movie, it's pretty recent, but I think you'll find it has a lot of points in common with your thoughts: https://youtu.be/WH8NoOJ4cF4

What's your ranking of Leone's films? I take it OUATITW is your favorite?

Jenko Morningstar
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« #14 : November 13, 2022, 12:15:06 AM »


Yea Good, Bad & Ugly are all relative terms
Exactly. One of the coolest aspects of this film is that it isn't in any way conventional, always finds a way to surprise you.

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