GHOSTS & AVENGERS – An Essay


(scherpschutter) #1

[/URL] [URL=http://img255.imageshack.us/i/hpd2.jpg/][/URL] [URL=http://img18.imageshack.us/i/clintlee1.jpg/]http://img682.imageshack.us/i/db6e11.jpg/

The nights are getting longer, so I thought it wasn’t a bad idea to write something more substantial than usual. It’s an essay of a little over 5000 words, which is quite a lot, and I’ve loaded it up in three different parts, corresponding with the three chapter sections it consists of. It’s not too difficult, everybody who knows some English (and knows his westerns) should be able to understand it, but please do take your time.

http://www.spaghetti-western.net/index.php/GHOSTS_AND_AVENGERS,from_Shakespeare%26_Leone,to_Eastwood%26_Garrone


(Reverend Danite) #2

OOOhhh!! This looks good scherpy… I’m gonna save it for a cold windy night outside (shouldn’t have to wait too long) and a mug of spiced cider (probably even sooner). Fantastic…


(Chris_Casey) #3

Very nice, Scherp! Haven’t read it all, but what I have read, so far, is very enjoyable and interesting.

One comment, though…

About HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER you wrote: “It is only revealed in the final scene of High Plains Drifter that Clint’s drifter is not a normal human being”–and then you describe the classic bit with the name on the tombstone. There are actually two more bits in the film that indicate that Eastwood’s character is not human. At the very beginning…he fades into a static shot out of nowhere, glimmering into existence out of a heat haze.
And he dissipates the same way at the very end.

Minor things to point out, perhaps…but, I recall when I first saw this film that opening bit (coupled with the semi-creepy music) is how I knew Eastwood wasn’t playing a typical flesh-and-blood avenger in HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER.

Can’t wait to read the rest of your article, amigo!


(autephex) #4

Looking forward to this read when I have a little time to focus


(Bad Lieutenant) #5

Great effort! Will read it this weekend.


(Paco Roman) #6

Well done Sherp. It looks promising :slight_smile: I have to take the train at weekend so hopefully I find some time to read it.
When there will be www.sherpshutter.be ? :wink:


(Sebastian) #7

sherpschuetter, you are a god among men :smiley:


(Bluntwolf) #8

I’m looking forward to read this, Scherp. !!!


(Dillinger) #9

Sherp I really like your elaborate style and your knowledge in so many fields. It is always a pleasure to read the fruit of your wisdom.

Reading your essay during my holidays I just asked myself a couple of question regarding the Proust/Freud chapter:

Is a kind of flashback enough to call it Proustian? Proust’s Temps Perdu is a very complex work, its narratological web is so complicated and diverse, it goes far beyond mere flashbacks. Gerard Genette drafted his quite elaborate and distinguished narratological equipment only using Proust.

I know this is not everything you mean. There are still the Proustian/Freudian objects of memory, in this case the harmonica. But does the Harmonica really evoke the emory involuntarily or does Harmonica willingly play his insrtument in order to recall the events of his youth? Every time he plays the harmonica we see Bronson very concentrated on the act of playing as if he wants to remember his brother’s death in order to focus his mind on his revenge mission. This seems rather voluntary to me.

The same is true for Mortimer, who is also non a revenge mission. IMO in both cases the objects of memory are no triggers of involuntary memories, but narrative tricks to inform the viewer of the story’s background.


(scherpschutter) #10

@ Dillinger

You’re right about the ‘voluntary’ aspect, but I’ve made that point too in the text (# Proust and Freud):

“The remarkable aspect of Leone’s movies, is that a involuntary memory is made voluntary, by deliberately provoking it by means of an object.”

And I continue:

(…) the object has become a sort of Freudian fetish, only this time its function is not to provoke any sexual arousal, but to remind the user of the very moment that has become his raison d’être.” (…) “Harmonica can only preserve a minimum of coherence in the face of a childhood trauma through a form of personal madness, which translates in an identification with the harmonica: he plays when he’s supposed to talk, and talks when he’s supposed to play.”

In other words: Harmonica cannot live with the memory of the murder of his brother, but he cannot live without it either: revenge, killing the man who ruined his life, is all he can think of, it’s his raison d’être, his reason to be. It’s the harmonica (the sound, the feel of the instrument between his lips) that brings back the fatal moment, and it’s also the sound and feel of this harmonica that reminds him of his mission, therefore he deliberately uses it. In For a Few Dollars More the musical watche(es) have more or less the same function.

In relation to Proust this is new: in Proust’s novel, memories are involuntary. But that’s of course not the entire story, Proust’s associative style is very intricate. He started with the first part of the cycle and then immediately wrote the final part. All other parts (some 3000 pages) ‘grew’ organically by means of this associative style: one memory evoked another memory which evoked another memory which evoked etc. If you’d have a timeline of his novel, you’ll see the narrative jumping back and forth, from past to future back to present and again. Such a style would be far to complicated for a western movie, or a movie sec (but Leone came close in Once upon a Time in America; the style is also used, more or less, in recent films like Babel, Three Burials etc.). The only narrative style in world literature as intricate as Proust’s (in some aspects it goes even further), is Joyce’s stream of consciousness.


(Dillinger) #11

Of course, then you’re right, I overread that


(Dillinger) #12

BTW I never read Proust, I started it once, I only read the exntesive Analysis by Genette for an exam in Narratology.


(John Welles) #13

This is getting too heavy. I’ll have to read this interresting essay when I have woken up all of my brain cells (i. e. in the next few weeks).


(Paco Roman) #14

Thx for the good read sherp!
Just learned the term stateside spaghetti westerns.
:slight_smile:
BTW in the German Version Harmonica is taking revenge for his father.


(LankyFellow) #15

I think he was his brother,Paco ?


(Paco Roman) #16

Sorry my mistake. In the German dubbing the line “Keep your lovin brother” is wrongly translated and the brother is not mentioned. So I thouhgt for years that it’s his father. ::slight_smile:


(Stanton) #17

Yeah, all Germans not familiar with the English version always assumed it is his father.

And in fact I don’t know why it isn’t his father. He looks much older and it would make more sense for me.


(LankyFellow) #18

Its never mentioned in the German version,thats right.
But in every extensive description they were talking about his brother.

As a boy i’ve read this in the ‘Western Lexikon’,fortunately its written by Joe Hembus.
He knew that :wink:

I add the passage in the german edge,maybe it interest somebody


(axl_foley_01) #19

Very nice essay.
As talking about the Western Lexikon of Joe Hembus. He made the suggestion, that Eastwood in “High Plains Drifter” is “Jesus Christ, crucified, buried, but immortal; resurrected to fulfill the Last Judgement”. Also a nice idea. Nevertheless I think he´s more a kind of angel of revenge, but in fact he is immortal.

Regarding the german dubbing, the myth of this movie gets lost as in the end the stranger shows himself as the brother of the killed Duncan…


(John Welles) #20

Yes, he dose look much older and if it wasn’t for that line you would think it was his father. In fact, reading the plotlines of a lot of Spaghetti Westerns, the revenge is normaly triggered by either his family or father being sadisticly killed, so it’s quite odd to have a brother as the revenge motive.