Criticism of Once upon a Time in the West Directed by Sergio Leone

1207 Words 5 Pages
Criticism of Once upon a Time in the West Directed by Sergio Leone

Once upon a Time in the West, directed by Sergio Leone, is a story of evil and vengeance (with a dose of mystery) set in the American West. As the story develops, characters are introduced who are essential to an understanding of the plots. Since there are two simultaneously developed story lines, the maturation of each character provides the viewer with insight as to why certain events occur as they do. But an analysis of the four levels of characterization (physical, social, psychological, and moral) of the two main characters will afford the viewer a greater understanding of the subliminal message of this story set in the Wild
…show more content…
Harmonica has his flaws, and in the film's early stages, we are forced to debate whether he is really going to be the personification of good. We want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he seems to have a dark side.

Harmonica's social aspect is very shallow, as he tends to keep to himself. Always appearing randomly to the sound of his harmonica's sorrowful tune, you always feel like something unexpected is about to happen. That sorrowful and unexplained tune is used as a repeated foreshadowing of his true identity and hidden motive. Yet Harmonica can be friendly in traditionally unfriendly ways. For example, he submits the high bid at the distress auction of Sweetwater-the strategically located land Jill McBain inherits from her murdered husband-and pays for it with the reward he receives from turning his friend and outlaw, Cheyenne, over to the sheriff. But he redeems himself with us when he later turns the deed to Sweetwater over to Jill.

There is a central reason why Harmonica acts the way he does. This psychological trait is kept a mystery for much longer than those of the other characters in order to not reveal Harmonica's real motivation. While Harmonica is, on the surface, portrayed as a very puzzling character, the storyteller methodically adds depth to this mystery man, eventually forcing us to conclude that Harmonica is driven by
Open Document