Cinematic Analysis On The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly is a satire that criticizes the romanticism of the West, with a theme that alliances and friendships can shift wildly. The camera fades up on an open, deserted town. Three men meet up, nod, and charge into a building only to be shot to death. The movie freezes as a portly man with a gun jumps through the window, with “The Ugly” appearing on the screen. “The Bad” is found taking contracts to kill men, finishing half a family with a grin and a giggle. The “good” is actually a con man, arresting outlaws only to shoot them out of the noose and into safety, splitting the profits of the bounty.

The rising action begins when The Good (Blondie) betrays Tuco (The Ugly), leading to a wild reversal of fortune that Tuco ultimately controls. Punishing Blondie for his betrayal, Tuco forces Blondie to walk for 100 miles in the desert. Half way through the arduous journey, an unmanned horse drawn carriage speeds through the desert, which is stopped by Tuco. Inside, a single man is alive. He gives Tuco the name of a graveyard with a $200, 000 treasure, and with his dying breath informs Blondie of the exact place where it is buried. While on the way to treasure, they are captured by Union troops. After a brief and bloody interrogation with The Bad, Tuco is sent to be hung; Blondie travels with The Bad, who has been moonlighting as a Union officer, to the graveyard where the money is buried. Tuco and Blondie both escape from The Bad and meet up. Almost at the treasure, Tuco and Blondie tell each other the missing pieces to where the fortune is, then Tuco betrays Blondie and speeds off towards the graveyard. Blondie soon catches up, along with The Bad. Blondie determines that the only way to fairly settle who gets the treasure is a shoot out. The climax comes when the outlaws form a triangle and shoot. Blondie kills The Bad and spares Tuco. After some Spaghetti Western hijinx, Blondie splits the loot with Tuco, then rides off into the sunset.

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly is a comical satire that criticizes the romanticism of the West, with a theme of excessive violence. Although the dialogue is few and far between, the body language and musical score capture the Western feel that make The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly a classic. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly is set during the end of the Civil War in the American Southwest. The movie tried to mock the romanticism of the West by using anti heroes as protagonists. Sergio Leone stated: “What do ‘good’, ‘bad’ and ‘ugly’ really mean? We all have some bad in us, some ugliness, some good. And there are people who appear to be ugly, but when we get to know them better, we realise that they are more worthy”. This quote plays directly into the theme of shifting alliances. One may see a friend as “good” and, thinking they are honorary, entrust them to damaging secrets. A different friend who is perceived as “bad” will only receive small secrets, if any. The knowledge of friends shifts, and so do secrets. Before one knows it, the “bad friend” is in fact a good person hidden in a hard shell and the “good” has spilled all the secrets.

The theme of shifting alliances and secrecy was prevalent during the time of the shoot in America due to the Cold War. The global powers were constantly shifting alliances and keeping secrets, and this push-pull trickled down to the citizens of the world. Individualism was the movement in the 1960’s, capturing more attention in the late 60’s. Hyman G. Rickover, a four-star admiral in US Navy saw “conformity eroding the principles of freedom and equality in America. There was, he believed, a considerable threat — “to individual freedom posed by huge power complexes which dominate our lives but over which we are not able to exercise control. Among these are both public and private organizations…”

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly includes this theme in the story line. Friends are eager to throw friends under the bus if it means bettering themselves. The impetus for constant violence in The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly is the $200, 000 sum which the outlaws constantly fight over. This constant violence touched a nerve with the American public; The people wanted flawless heroes and grandeur, not three antiheroes and senseless war.

Sergio Leone uses extreme close ups and long shots to show emotion and build tension throughout the movie. During the climactic Mexican Standoff at the end, the camera gradually moves closer to the faces of the outlaws, guns and hands. This increases the tension and draws the moment out, augmenting the climax. The technique is used throughout the film with great effect. Another expertly used cinematic technique is wide angles, where the camera reveals the geographic background in relation to the foreground which conveys a more dramatic mood and setting for the shot. When a location and context is important, this technique is employed. Otherwise, it is used to build tension by showing the slow movement of the characters. Less dramatic shots, such as medium close ups are dutifully employed as well. The shots used in The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly are one of a kind, and give it a unique and powerful feel.


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