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: The Genius of the Blondie & Confederate Soldier Scene  ( 4427 )
Cusser
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« #15 : November 13, 2022, 08:06:32 AM »

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

That's a very good video.  I saw GBU as a teenager in the theater upon first release, but took me about 3rd viewing to realize that it was really an anti-war film.

Always been my favorite film, and Wallach and Morricone were absolutely outstanding and Academy Award worthy, and then add Leone, editing, and cinematography.....

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« #16 : November 14, 2022, 02:00:31 PM »

It's superb. As I've said before, I hadn't watched any other real Western previously, so when I saw it I did it through the lens of the ''action/adventure'' genre. It delivered on that excellently and provided other layers of storytelling that I haven't seen so many times in these movies. The use of tongue-in-cheek comedy, irony, and exaggeration, (many of the jokes are funny to the audience but not to the characters/the good as a greedy person, the ugly's family situation that makes him feel more human/the extreme close-ups, wide shots, the length of the duel, and the ecstasy of gold scene) the social stuff (war aspect), and the way it plays with your emotions and expectations, always presenting you with reversals that are both surprising & logical to their respective situations (Blondie leaving Tuco hanging and then saving him being the most memorable of these for me).

And the way Leone frames all of the scenes we watch on screen, you get the sense that he's in love with the material and takes care of making every shot look good and evoke an emotion from you. Because he's so exaggerated and sophisticated with the composition, in my case it lands really well. The way he pans through Blondie's rifle once Tuco finds him, for example. He makes it look epic even if it's something we've seen a million times before.

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« #17 : November 15, 2022, 08:53:34 AM »

The way he pans through Blondie's rifle once Tuco finds him, for example. He makes it look epic even if it's something we've seen a million times before.
Yes, SL uses his inventive technique to redeem exhausted tropes. All these decades later his work still seems fresh. Contrast this with so much in cinema now that already seems tired.



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« #18 : December 19, 2022, 12:10:45 PM »

The first sign of Blondie's compassion occurs when he watches the Battle of the Langstone Bridge; " Never seen so many men wasted so badly". Frayling recalls the San Francisco audience he  watched this with cheering at that line.
Tuco also looks shocked at the carnage, paralleling Sentenza at the fort.
Morricone really adds to this with his haunting music.
In his commentary, Frayling makes the point that the Civil War had never been presented in such a cynical fashion in any previous films.

I am heartened by the appreciation of this aspect of the film by the op!

Bruce Marshall

« : December 19, 2022, 12:13:43 PM uncknown »

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My article on the restoration of the The Big Gundown
http://thekinskifiles.blogspot.com/2009/01/cinemaretro-13-big-gundown.html
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« #19 : December 19, 2022, 05:11:04 PM »

Good observation, and thanks Bruce! I've been thinking recently about more reasons this scene works so well, and I came to the conclusion that some of the emotional power has to do with the treatment of the two sides of the war towards each other, the abuse from Wallace and the violence from the Union soldiers couldn't be more dehumanizing and ruthless. The soldier in the front of the train is an ideal example, with "Confederate Spy" written on his chest. Life has seemingly no value in this place and the sole ideas of love and compassion existing here seem almost ludicrous. This is supported by having the people of noble intentions be too weak to do something about it (the commandant is dying from gangrene, and Angel Eyes knows there's no way he's gonna manage to do anything that affects him when he says "I wish you luck". The wife of the guy from the hotel gets sidelined and silenced by Tuco and his goons. The gun salesman can't do anything about Tuco robbing him.)

So when you see acts of cruelty being treated as casually as the execution of a Confederate Soldier who is carrying his own coffin, all happening so quickly that it's almost handled like a fast food service, against the compassionate act of Blondie who's recently seen just how many men were killed the night before, from an attempt of both protagonists to get across the river and precisely save men from being killed, the result is a very emotionally effective moment for the audience!

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« #20 : December 19, 2022, 08:13:21 PM »

Angel Eyes makes reference to the treatment of " our men" at Andersonville, a real prison camp.
The commander was executed after the war.
Whether Sentenza really cares about the suffering of " our" troops or is merely using it as justification for his maltreatment of his prisoners is unclear.
But,, it's  another example of his awareness of the horrors of the Civil War.

« : December 19, 2022, 08:28:51 PM uncknown »

"Other Morton's will come along  and they'll kill it off"

My article on the restoration of the The Big Gundown
http://thekinskifiles.blogspot.com/2009/01/cinemaretro-13-big-gundown.html
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« #21 : December 20, 2022, 07:39:59 AM »

The anti-war stuff is much stronger with the restored scenes.  Angel Eyes at the outpost, the desolation, wounded no-arm, no-leg Confederates; the dead bodies on the sides of the road as Blondie and Tuco depart the mission.

And alcohol being the most important weapon in war, no other way to get the men to do 2 bayonet attacks a day on the bridge.

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« #22 : December 20, 2022, 06:44:33 PM »

The anti-war stuff is much stronger with the restored scenes. 
Very good point. It's almost as if we're talking about two different movies.



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« #23 : December 20, 2022, 08:29:47 PM »

Yes, those are missed.
 My ' ultimate edition' would add the Confederate fort scene with Angel Eyes and the extended scene with the Union officer talking with Blondie and Tuco to the US 161 minute cut.
But, the anti- war theme comes through in the US cut despite the excisions.


"Other Morton's will come along  and they'll kill it off"

My article on the restoration of the The Big Gundown
http://thekinskifiles.blogspot.com/2009/01/cinemaretro-13-big-gundown.html
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« #24 : December 21, 2022, 08:04:17 AM »

My ' ultimate edition' would add the Confederate fort scene with Angel Eyes and the extended scene with the Union officer talking with Blondie and Tuco to the US 161 minute cut.
But, the anti- war theme comes through in the US cut despite the excisions.

I'd absolutely include the short scene with Blondie and Tuco leaving the mission. Besides the road littered with dead bodies, Tuco tells Blondie how far away the cemetery is, and how the journey will take them through several states and crossing enemy lines.

I first saw GBU in 1968 when I was 15, and probably took me a couple of viewings until I really realized the anti-war message...

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« #25 : January 03, 2023, 04:03:10 PM »

Good observation, and thanks Bruce! I've been thinking recently about more reasons this scene works so well, and I came to the conclusion that some of the emotional power has to do with the treatment of the two sides of the war towards each other, the abuse from Wallace and the violence from the Union soldiers couldn't be more dehumanizing and ruthless. The soldier in the front of the train is an ideal example, with "Confederate Spy" written on his chest. Life has seemingly no value in this place and the sole ideas of love and compassion existing here seem almost ludicrous. This is supported by having the people of noble intentions be too weak to do something about it (the commandant is dying from gangrene, and Angel Eyes knows there's no way he's gonna manage to do anything that affects him when he says "I wish you luck". The wife of the guy from the hotel gets sidelined and silenced by Tuco and his goons. The gun salesman can't do anything about Tuco robbing him.)

So when you see acts of cruelty being treated as casually as the execution of a Confederate Soldier who is carrying his own coffin, all happening so quickly that it's almost handled like a fast food service, against the compassionate act of Blondie who's recently seen just how many men were killed the night before, from an attempt of both protagonists to get across the river and precisely save men from being killed, the result is a very emotionally effective moment for the audience!


The movie was pretty good at showing how it's easy to switch from one side to another, like when Blondie and Tuco dressed as confederates meet the union soldiers, mistaking them to be on the same side while their uniforms were just tainted by dust, or Sentenza wearing a "good guy"Union uniform and enjoying the torture of Tuco. Sergio Leone was very clear about it, he considers the Union side to be as bad, even more evil than the confederates. His main wish was to fix the official History written by the winners, as he developped scepticism toward the official narrative, growing up in a fascist country.

His quotes from 'Conversation Avec Sergio Leone' about the civil war :

"I've read that 120 000 people died in confederate camps like Andersonville.
And I didn't ignore that the Yankees did the same thing.We always know all the shameful
events from the losing side, never from the winning side.So i've decided to show this extermination inside a Yankee concentration camp.The Americans didn't like it.Movies about this war never work.Except 'Gone with the Wind ' but you don't really get to see the war itself.

"And when Fred Zinnemann tried to make a movie about Andersonville, he didn't find the money to do it.American civil war is taboo, because its reality is insane.And me, I'm always doubtful about official History.Without doubt because I grew up during a fascist period.
I've witnessed the way they manipulated the truth.So I'm always doubtful about the things they're spreading.It became instinctive."

"The last of the trilogy will be,  The GBU, the american civil war,  the shock between the north and the south,a new development of America,the reassessment of historical stereotypes.Because the true racists weren't the confederates.They were the yankees.To denounce this, I wanted to do the remake of Gone With The Wind, to get things right !"

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« #26 : January 04, 2023, 08:20:48 PM »

Those remarks by Leone are very troubling. It betrays a shocking ignorance of the main cause of the conflict, the desire to EXPAND  slavery. And, he seems to imply it wasn't so bad.
The truth is , neither side was fighting for a cause. They Southern soldier was dying to preserve the wealth of the slaveholding
aristrocracy. Only a tiny amount of Northern soldiers gave a damn about slavery. They died to preserve some vague notion of the ' Union'.
This is conveyed beautifully by the visuals, not by.a dialectical screenplay. That is why the anti- war message is so powerful


I hope he was just naive and not a racist.
But, I'll still love his films even if it's the latter.


Fyi.One reason GBU was so popular with young Americans is they saw Blondie and Tuco as surrogate draft dodgers, who, like them didn't want to get drafted into a ' civil war' being waged in Vietnam

« : January 04, 2023, 08:42:45 PM uncknown »

"Other Morton's will come along  and they'll kill it off"

My article on the restoration of the The Big Gundown
http://thekinskifiles.blogspot.com/2009/01/cinemaretro-13-big-gundown.html
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« #27 : January 05, 2023, 04:10:12 AM »

Those remarks by Leone are very troubling. It betrays a shocking ignorance of the main cause of the conflict, the desire to EXPAND  slavery. And, he seems to imply it wasn't so bad.
The truth is , neither side was fighting for a cause. They Southern soldier was dying to preserve the wealth of the slaveholding
aristrocracy. Only a tiny amount of Northern soldiers gave a damn about slavery. They died to preserve some vague notion of the ' Union'.
This is conveyed beautifully by the visuals, not by.a dialectical screenplay. That is why the anti- war message is so powerful


I hope he was just naive and not a racist.
But, I'll still love his films even if it's the latter.


Fyi.One reason GBU was so popular with young Americans is they saw Blondie and Tuco as surrogate draft dodgers, who, like them didn't want to get drafted into a ' civil war' being waged in Vietnam

An assertion, especially a political one, should always be put in context. I'm pretty sure Leone wasn't a racist. What I get from what he was saying here is: every war is a mess, a muddy mess, where there aren't clear good or bad guys. Everybody is kinda bad. So when he says the North were the true racists, I'm pretty sure he is overstating his point because the very dominant version of history in Europe especially a few decades ago makes the civil war look as clear cut as "heros vs nazis".  In the US, the civil war has always been a hot topic and is politicaly disputed. This isn't the case here. So when you're trying to nuance a dominant discourse, it's easy to let oneself slip into overstating one's point. So to me he only meant that the north didn't go to war just because they were antiracist heros. It's more of a "the good guys weren't all that good either", which is what it looks like you're saying too and which, when you watch the movie and don't read the interviews, is the vibe you get anyway.

« : January 05, 2023, 04:12:44 AM noodles_leone »

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« #28 : January 05, 2023, 09:44:54 AM »


I hope he was just naive and not a racist.


It's probably this.


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« #29 : January 05, 2023, 08:17:46 PM »

As Noodles said, the depiction. of the war doesn't match up with Leones statements.
It's one of the most powerful anti- war statements ever put on film.
I'm going to pretend I never read his seriously skewed comments😉


"Other Morton's will come along  and they'll kill it off"

My article on the restoration of the The Big Gundown
http://thekinskifiles.blogspot.com/2009/01/cinemaretro-13-big-gundown.html
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