Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ecstasy of Gold

One of my favourite ever movie scenes is the "Ecstasy of Gold" last-but-one scene from Clint Eastwood's The Good The Bad and The Ugly, directed by Sergio Leone. If you've never seen this film, then hopefully the clip below should tempt you into watching it. It's one of Quentin Tarantino's favourite films and the scene below is used to open shows by the band Metallica. It's a near perfect match of cinematography, music and narrative, without the need for words.

At this point in the film, the three main characters have reached the final stage of their hunt for buried gold, having undertaken a journey of epic proportions. The gold is buried under one of the graves in a Civil War graveyard, with the graves arranged in concentric circles. Finally, Tuco (the ugly) finds the graveyard and he runs through it, trying to locate Arch Stanton's grave where he has been told the treasure is buried. The irony of his joy, found among hundreds of pointlessly killed soliders, always chokes me up. The music is both sad and glorious. Tuco starts running round in circles, literally - getting increasingly desperate - the graveyard is so enormous - can he ever find the grave he needs? The camera begins to spin around so the graves are blurred, while Tuco appears to be standing still while running. And finally, as Ennio Morricone's haunting music swells to a crescendo, just when you think he's never going to get anywhere - he spots the right grave. Or is it? What follows is a Mexican standoff that can only be resolved by a three-way shoot-out and a payoff which harks right back to the beginning of the film. It was Clint's last spaghetti western - the end of his trilogy. And a perfect high to go out on.


matty said...

I have tried to appreciate this and other Leone films but I can never quite get into them. However, I see the beauty and flowing editing. ..and, of course, Clint was so gorgeous!


Ennio Morricone rocks. However, my fave Ennio score is the one he whipped up for EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC which featured a rock-n-roll song where girls hummed "Ra-Ra-Regan-Ra-Ra-Regan" -- cool. ...tho, I never understood why Linda Blair was living on the top floor of a 70 floor building which had a metalic/mirror'd roof deck without any railings. It was pretty to look at but odd.

Hmmm... How did I get off to talking about Linda Blair on a roof without boundaries?!?!?

matty said...

...thought of you on friday. ...we've had valley of the dolls on the monitors for over 2 weeks at the gay disco dental office and our patients have taken to screaming patty duke's lines at me as they approach the granite counter. this amuses me and I like to respond by screaming, "you know you should mix those pills with liquor, nelley -- of course it does make them work faster doesn't it, baby?"

love my job.