|Sergio Leone’s film Once Upon a Time in the West set out to be the ultimate Western—a celebration of the power of classic Hollywood cinema, a meditation on the making of America and a lament for the decline of one of the most cherished film genres in the form of a “dance of death.” With this film, Leone said a fond farewell to the noisy and flamboyant world of the Italian Western, which he had created with A Fistful of Dollars and sequels, and aimed for something much more ambitious—an exploration of the relationship between myth (“Once Upon a Time…”), history (“…in the West”) and his own autobiography as an avid film-goer. This would be a horse opera in which the arias aren’t sung, they are stared. Once Upon a Time has since inspired several generations of filmmakers worldwide. Its combination of “film about film” with an angry historical epic, told with great style, has resonated for half a century, and its reputation has steadily grown. This book, by the world-renowned authority on Sergio Leone, Christopher Frayling, includes revealing personal interviews with all the key players involved in the movie (in front of the camera and behind it), a wealth of never-before-published documents, designs and photographs, and the latest research into the making of a masterpiece, shot by shot. It is introduced with a foreword by Quentin Tarantino. This year is the 50th anniversary of Once Upon a Time in the West and this richly illustrated book is a suitably spectacular birthday tribute.
Christopher Frayling is a world-renowned authority on the films of Sergio Leone. He has written Leone’s biography, curated a major world-touring exhibition on his work, published the classic study of the spaghetti western phenomenon and provided commentaries to Leone DVDs and television documentaries. Now he turns his attention to the making of Leone’s masterpiece. Frayling is an award-winning broadcaster and writer on film, design and popular culture. He was Rector of London’s Royal College of Art from 1996 to 2009, and was also Chairman of the Arts Council of England and a Governor of the British Film Institute. He was Professor of Cultural History at the RCA for over 30 years and is now Professor Emeritus. Christopher was knighted in the year 2000 for “services to art and design education.” As Sergio Leone once said to him, “it took an Englishman to take my films seriously…”