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“When the Chimes End, Pick Up Your Gun.”

Objects, Memory, and Revenge in the Films of Sergio Leone
We can often confuse grandiosity of style with absence of purpose. It has become a cliché at this point to denigrate artists with the phrase “style over substance” while praising convoluted narratives and bland filmmakers who do everything in their power to avoid creating images that we can immerse ourselves in. Alternately, Sergio Leone trades in very simple, often borrowed, or archetypal stories alongside incredibly complex schemes of editing and cinematography. Despite his unceasing popularity amongst film fans, we have perhaps forgotten how to talk about his work. We could at least talk about it in more ways than we do.
What is wide and epic is not necessarily broad, and Leone is precise. In spite of their scope and extraordinary widescreen compositions (the iconic setting of Monument Valley or the vast railway lines of Once Upon a Time in the West spring to mind), the smaller things are often the most meaningful in Leone’s…

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