Spaghetti Western Philosophy – Words of Wisdom


(Reverend Danite) #1

My primary aim when watching a sw is most certainly NOT to dig too deeply to uncover philosophical nuggets from the (metaphorical) mine. And I’ll quote Mr. Leone here “I don’t want to be remembered as a philosopher, unlike so many of my celluloid brothers. I want to be remembered as an entertainer, or you may as well forget me completely.” (Opening address, Annual Festival Unita, organised by a communist newspaper, 1984)

BUT, I can’t forget how moved I was (altho’ I can’t remember it word for word) by the use of philosophy, particularly with Professor Brad Fletcher’s ‘…history…’ speech in FACE TO FACE, whereby he could ‘justify’ genocide as ‘making history’.
Sollima denied that this film was a parable referencing the rise of Italian fascism - but I think it is understandable for some to have read it in this way. Certainly there is a pertinent philosophical undercurrent within this, and other(s) films within this genre.
Many others - particularly the Mexican revolution films, can take a Marxist (cheers SD ;)) reading; or an anti-American/Vietnam war parallel. Or regarding Leone again, a Freudian interpretation (he said it!).
WITHOUT getting too ‘deep and meaningless’ here … there are some films that are out to make a philosophical point, others that have little intention of doing so … but sometimes, those little nuggets are there without having to dig, there they are - glistening on the bank - washed downstream, or accidently dropped. (Those fuckin’ metaphors again … sorry)
I am not advocating a heavy discussion on the deepest possible interpretations of such philosophical masterpieces (unless Scherp starts it :wink: ) … such as Bad Man’s River or Kid Vengeance, but even these might have one of those ‘throwaway’ smart one-liners that illuminates these ‘darkest’ recesses of the genre?

Sw films are populated with the most colourful of characters - the death dealers and the dying; whores with hearts of gold; religious (funda) mentalists; world(and word)-weary strangers.
There’s the bonkers old scrote who bangs on about ‘the trains’ in FAFDM; Morning Glory from RofR; of course Brad from FTF; there’s even a character in Yankee who’s called Philosopher (who paradoxically ??? has bugger all to say of any note); there’s the religious ramblings of rabid reverends :P; et all.

The stuff I’d like to see on this thread is, as we’re watching these films, are the little philosophical nuggets, the pearls of wisdom, the little maxims that you might live your life by, or get put on a scroll and wrapped around a skull (wearing a battered hat with a bullet hole in it, and smoking a cheroot) and tattooed on your forehead.
Or worn on a t-shirt. You know the stuff I mean.
What is it that Clint says to Tuco when he gives him the spade? That’s the sort of stuff ;D


(Reverend Danite) #2

I missed out pissed-up old soaks …
Robert woods in EL PURO -

“A man can’t carry his tombstone around on his back forever - it’s just too heavy.”

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(Reverend Danite) #3

I gather he’s called ‘Prophet’ … thought you might have something to say on the subject ENNIOO (about trains maybe)? :o.

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(Silvanito) #4

Good thread, and to me this is what spaghetti-westerns are all about really!

The sense of doom, sardonic humour, and sometimes tragic endings, together with the characters and some of the other details, (plus the accompanying music) is what makes them SWs!

Have a beer and enjoy life while it lasts :wink:


(ENNIOO) #5

Used to be a trainspotter in my younger youth >:(, but saw the ‘light’ as they say Reverend ;D.

But as one might have guessed I think this character is great of course, and it is characters like this which make many Spaghetti western so interesting to watch.


(scherpschutter) #6

There are two types of Paki’s, my friend, those who’ve studied in Oxford, and those with loaded guns.

Furthermore I think it’s appalling that our commander, our generalissimo, our primus inter pares doesn’t know who Karl Marx is!
Dear me, the man had millions of fans in Eastern-Germany alone, they had to build a wall to keep his westerns fans out!

Okay Sebastian, I can understand that you haven’t read his social study Das Kapital, it’s food for thought, but mainly aimed at specialists, but you’ve certainly heard of his famous novels set in the Old West?
Karl Marx, German’s most popular writer of western fiction. His books were even translated into Volapük, now I ask you!

And the screen adaptions created the cultural context for the spaghetti western, no less. Shame on you, mr. president!
Who hasn’t watched (and rewatched) those famous stories about the great Apache war chief Winnetou (wonderfully played by Chinese actor Mao Ze Dong), his white blood brother Old Shatterhand (Joseph Stalin, hamming it up a little) and the villainous traiter Santer (Russian actor Leon Trotzky, who gives his finest performance ever). Made in the early sities, by left-wing director Friedrich Engels (clearly a pseudonym for the black-listed American Frederic English), those adaptations combine the best elements of Sauerkraut and Zapata westerns. Winnetou’s long march on the capital is typical Sauerkraut kitsch, but the killing - with an ice-pick - of the treacherous Santer in Mexico City, is a Zapata element in the best tradition.

My vote for the wonderfull writings of Germany’s finest son is 20 out of 20


(Reverend Danite) #7

Karl May; Karl Marx; Groucho Marx … it’s a philosophical minefield out there.


(scherpschutter) #8

Good idea to create this thread. Good idea too to mention Tuco, our full-time rascal, part-time philosopher.

Still, in Greece, where those guys who were Philos to Sophia lived, his way of shorthand reasoning, would have marked him as a warrior from Sparta instead of a philosopher from Athens.

Unlike the sophisticated youngsters from Athens, who were educated in poetry, reasoning and eloquence, Spartan’s sons were trained in giving short, acute answers. This economic way of reasoning was called ‘laconic’, from Lakonia, the region in which Sparta was situated. And yes, these laconic repartees come close to Tuco’s way of reasoning.

Apparently the Spartans were rather compact build persons, so when a guy from Athens said to a guy from Sparta during one of the Olympics that his legs were too short, the Spartan reparteed:

“Well, they’re long enough to reach the ground”

That is an answer Tuco (not a tall guy either) could’ve come up with when somebody tried to ridicule his stature.
We could also think of Harmonica, when he is told that Frank’s men shy one horse:

“No, you brought two too many”

I think Ringo gives a nice laconic answer when he’s arrested by the sheriff in the beginning of the movie; it’s about his father changing sides during the Civil War due to the principle of supporting the winning side if possible (or something like that, I’ll check it tonight, but I have a french DVD that lacks english audio). This Ringo (so not the guy from RETURN) has a lovely laconic way of reasoning, but his behaviour isn’t very Spartanian, I suppose.
Last summer we all learned how these guys really thought (and spoke) thanks to Gerald Butler:

“SPARTANS, TONIGHT WE DINE IN HEEEELLLLLL”
(Yes, they spoke in capitals)


(Reverend Danite) #9

[quote=“scherpschutter, post:8, topic:813”]Good idea to create this thread. Good idea too to mention Tuco, our full-time rascal, part-time philosopher.

“Well, they’re long enough to reach the ground”

That is an answer Tuco (not a tall guy either) could’ve come up with when somebody tried to ridicule his stature.
We could also think of Harmonica, when he is told that Frank’s men shy one horse:

“No, you brought two too many”[/quote]

Tuco - great character and some great lines - ironic tho’ - that for the sake of TGTB&TU story, his feet don’t actually touch the ground for much of it. :wink:

Great line from Harmonica … after all that waiting around it had to be good. No disappointments there.


(Stanton) #10

A Tuco like one from Matalo! (translated from the german version):

There are only two good people in the world: one is dead, the other has to be born.

Matalo! also contains a great philosophical statement, which could be a confused motto of all greedy SW (anti)heroes.

Too long to cite, but it has parts like “it’s better to trust god than your next, because god never shits on you”. Ha, ha


(Reverend Danite) #11

Johnny - the stranger - impressing Clementine with words of wisdom … (West and Soda 1965)
In the first frame he’s saying quite profoundly that … “Silence is more than anything else a sysmatic phenomenon”. But the subtitles throughout this are incredibly off kilter, and there’s many an odd word lost in translation. It’s part of the fun … but, hmmmm, I wonder what ‘sysmatic’ should’ve been. ??? :slight_smile: Still, sounds good, and Clementine is obviously impressed!

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(Reverend Danite) #12

"You are a liar and a vegetarian … and I want nothing to do with you!"
Wise words indeed … quoth the drunkard in Don’t Wait Django … Shoot! … to scherpschutter! :wink: :o


(autephex) #13

Excellent thread… some great responses already. Will be fun watching for these lines in spaghettis…

This one isn’t an example of words of wisdom… but kind of applies, and besides- I can’t think of anything else yet :wink:

In Django, when Django is asked who is in the coffin he carries, and he replies “Someone by the name of Django.”

Of course this is simply a cool line, but its also a comment by Django on how the man he used to be no longer exists, yet he still carries his weight with him… what’s happened to him, in fact guides his new, violent existence- he is embodied by the coffin & the gun within

edit

had never read the review by Phil H on the Django entry, but had the suspision that someone probably already discussed this somewhere, and indeed Phil has beat me to the punch :slight_smile:


(autephex) #14

[quote=“scherpschutter, post:8, topic:813”]We could also think of Harmonica, when he is told that Frank’s men shy one horse:

“No, you brought two too many”[/quote]

This is maybe my favorite spaghetti line ever

[quote=“Stanton, post:10, topic:813”]A Tuco like one from Matalo! (translated from the german version):
There are only two good people in the world: one is dead, the other has to be born.[/quote]

Another great one


#15

Captain Apache (Lee Van Cleef), waltzing around in a cramped hotel room with his love interest Maude (Carroll Baker), replies to her compliment, “Oh, you’re so light on your feet,” with the words: “‘It’s the spirit that dances, not the man.’ Indian proverb.” I liked that. Really. And then, mentally paraphrasing the last words of John Cowper Powys’s Wolf Solent, I thought, “Well, I shall have a cup of firewater.”