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Once Upon a Time in the West

Once Upon a Time in the West (C'era una volta il West, 1967), directed by Sergio Leone, is considered by many to be his greatest and most critically acclaimed film, and by some even as the greatest Western ever made.

The epic film stars Henry Fonda, in his most villainous role, Charles Bronson as his nemesis, Jason Robards, as a generally benign bandit, and Claudia Cardinale, as a newly-widowed homesteader with a lurid past.

Stylistically unique as a Western, the film has several striking features - emotionally resonant leitmotifs which relate to each of the main characters (each character having their own unique theme music), as well as to the spirit of the American West, and long, ponderous scenes in which there is very little dialogue and not much happens, broken by brief and sudden violence. The dry, unsentimental tone of the film is consistent with the arid semi-desert in which the story unfolds, and imbues it with a feeling of realism which is only slightly lessened by Leone's weakness for spectacular, elaborately choreographed gunplay.

The composer Ennio Morricone wrote the score before Leone began filming, forcing the movie to conform to the music. Like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the stirring music almost defines the film.