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Posts Tagged ‘The Good The Bad and the Ugly’

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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is my all time favorite movie. For some reason I am very atracted to Sergio Leone’s western fantasy. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen it on DVD or TV. What I lacked, until a couple of days ago, was the experience of seeing it in it’s full glory in a movie theater. This was fixed last Wednesday when the local student movie club, Elokuvakerho X, finished the Fall’s movies in the company of Blondie, Tuco and Angel-Eyes. Each time I’ve seen the movie I’ve payed attention to different things, this time I mostly looked at how this great movie is built and mostly three aspects of that: Firstly the way excitement is built up and then suddenly erupts into action, second a sort of duality in the characters and dialogue, and finally the allusions towards Christianity.

The first scene already shows how Leone builds tension. The scene begins with the face of a bounty hunter. Then we see two bounty hunters facing him some distance away. The three men are walking towards an abandoned building. From close-ups of the mens’ faces we can tell they are very tense. Then for what seems a very long time the camera shoots the men nearing the building, one from the left and two from the right. There is no music, only sounds of the environment: Like the wind blowing or a horse moving. The tension just keeps building up, the men finally reach the building and after getting their weapons ready, rush in. Gunshots follow and the man the three bounty hunters were chasing, The Ugly or Tuco, jumps out of the window. A buildup and then a violent outbreak of tension. Tarantino’s films work much in the same way as is evident from Inglourious Basterds, where the beginning scene is very similar to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. But instead of silence Tarantino uses dialogue.

Hanging

Then on to the duality. A lot of the dialogue in the film uses the phrase “In this world there are two kinds of men…” What follows can be, for example: “those with loaded guns, and those who dig”. Similar phrases are used so often in the film that one can’t help but notice and wonder how it affects the story. When you look at the plot of this movie you realize that in the center are two men: Tuco and Blondie. Almost the entire movie revolves around these two, who contrast each other extremely well. Blondie is a quiet wall, speaking only rarely, while Tuco talks almost constantly and shows his feelings very openly. The relationship of these two kinds of men develops in very interesting directions in the movie and it’s rather open to discussion how one might analyze their relationship.

One way of looking at it is a religious approach. Tuco is very straightforwardly compared to Jesus in the movie. At a scene in the missionary Tuco stands next to a painting of Jesus very noticeably. Blondie is also compared to a golden haired guardian angel and Tuco compares him to Judas frequently. The way blondie saves from hanging by shooting the rope could be interpreted as a symbolic death. Especially the ending where Tuco stands precariously atop a cross marking a grave is rich with symbolic meaning. I won’t be so brave as to draw any conclusions, I was just wondering about these aspects while watching the movie. Comment is free: Draw, aim and fire.

Hipshot

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For starters I’m a Clint Eastwood fanboy. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is my favorite movie ever. That said let’s get on with some opinions on Gran Torino, get ready to hear a lot of praise for this great movie.

The movie is about Walt Kowalski, you get one quess at who plays him, a bitter Korean war veteran, whose wife has died right before the movie begins. Kowalski bitches at everyone near him, especially his son’s family, who Kowalski sees as only trying to take use of him (which is exactly what they attempt). Then one day a family of “gooks” moves in next to him and Kowalski ends up bonding with the family and especially the son Thao. That’s the plot, now for the interesting parts.

Walt Kowalski as a character is in my opinion the man with no name and Dirty Harry as an old bitter man. Kowalski believes in taking justice into his own hands and so when a gang attacks the “gook” family, as Kowalski puts it,  he rises to defend with his good old rifle from Korea and you get the one liner: “Get off my lawn”, which the trailer has in it as well. What the trailer forgot though, were the lines after that: “We used to stack fucks like you five feet high in Korea and use you for sandbags.” The movie is full off lines like these and a real party of one liners. A friend who happened to be at the movie theater at the same time called the movie a guy-movie and well, she’s got a point. But what a guy-movie it is!

So back to Walt Kowalski. He seems to be an ironised version of Clint’s earlier characters, mainly the ones I already mentioned. In Gran Torino though, acting like Dirty Harry or Blondie would, doesn’t pay off. Instead Kowalski chooses to deal with his problems differently. He doesn’t shoot people but instead aims at them with his finger. This is only one of the jokes Gran Torino cracks towards the Dollar trilogy and Dirty Harry. The movie is simply hilarous to a viewer who has seen both movies as jokes are thrown toward Clint’s characters in those films almost at a constant feed. Eastwood adds to his merits a knack at being a comedian. When a girl called Youa tells Kowalski that he is funny, he replies: “I’ve been called a lot of things, but never funny.”

Gran Torino shows that the vigilantism of Dirty Harry doesn’t pay off, because taking  the law into your own hands has consequences that just brood more hatred. Kowalski realizes he isn’t alone in the world, but that defending his friends the violent way only ends up in those friends, he so hard tried to defend, getting seriously injured. The ending is brilliant and if this is to be Clint’s last movie as an actor he chose a badass way to end his acting career. If you have seen the Dollar trilogy and Dirty Harry, and have a sense of humor, you will laugh your ass off. But besides being one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time, Gran Torino also has a deeper level to it. A must see movie if you fill the description I gave, you’ll like it otherwise as well but many of the jokes won’t seem as funny.

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