I wrote once a post, where I put music composed by Ennio Morricone for a film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Sergio Leone. I have to admit, at the moment I knew only the music, not the film itself, because I was never a big fan of westerns. Probably I’d seen some, because my father always liked them and still do. But in m memory I had only one (in fact, I remembered one scene) – Two mules for sister Sara, also featuring Clint Eastwood, by the way.
When I was going back to Vilcabamba, I was thinking about becoming a cowboy. Here a word of explanation. There are to main styles of horse riding – English and Western. In Ecuador they definitely do Western – I would write that in somehow modified form, but Western riding comes from the use of horses to work with the cattle. Well, check out Wikipedia. So, I think that freestyle Ecuadorian equestrianism based on Western riding is a natural part of it. But it’s not the place nor time for this.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. A spaghetti western, filmed in Italy and Spain. It’s memorable, especially with Clint Eastwood role. I watched it being still in Guayaquil and discovered that I could wear poncho in a more fancy way.
I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, though. Watch it yourselves or google a review, I bet there are plenty of them online. Then, there came time for the next (actually, previous, because The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the third one) films from the Dollar trilogy – For a fistful of dollars and For a fistful of dollars more. Then other films with Eastwood. From those with the highest notes, through the oldest ones to any of them. And they were good. All of them, because, as someone commented on one of them, it’s difficult to tell if Eastwood is a better actor or director. Although, despite great ambiance which was definitely very inspiring for me, Eastwood’s westerns are focused on the characters – I missed the horse element in them. Also, they ended pretty quickly.
Next step I took towards John Wayne’s work. And there the source is almost unfinished – he played in 157 films, most of them westerns. I started with the classics – first Rio Bravo (1959) with an awesome song by Dean Martin, then The Stagecoach (1939). The second one… Well, it was the moment I focused more on horses. In one scene the stagecoach is dragged through the river by swimming horses. Horses swim! The cinema teaches.
It was a turning moment for me. I realised that the man who for all his life played a cowboy probably knew how to ride a horse. Also, the films, and the older, the better, was made so close in time after the moment they describe (Big Jake (1971) with John Wayne takes place in 1909, Wayne’s first proper western role had place in 1926, so not even twenty years ago), that the tradition was still alive in the West of the US. Furthermore, it’s still alive. Then it was still a legit working method.
So I started to analyse – the manner of riding, the horse tack (saddle, bridle etc.), the attitude towards horses. Those scenes in western are so… well, natural. How would you explain otherwise the fact, that the John Wayne’s character right after jumping off the horse loosens the cinch? It has no story meaning and I doubt ii is for the sake of realism – I’ve never seen any scene like this in modern westerns.
Indeed. Modern western. Such as the famous The Revenant (2015) with Leonardo DiCaprio. Or the remake of The Magnificent Seven (2016). They are good, with an interesting plot, enjoyable action but there are elements that repel me. For example the fact that everyone is dirty. Yeah, sure, XIX century, no soap available. The interiors are dark and dirty too. I don’t understand such steps.
Ok, The Magnificent Seven. But the real one, from 1960. There is a wonderful scene there, when one character hangs down on his saddle to drink some water from the river. Again: he touches the water surface which is on the level of the hooves. I thought that it may be useful. And I managed to do it! Not from my horse’s back, but from the friend horse’s one – Caramelo is a bit shorter – but I’ll learn to do it from Sol too, I promise!
Two other western worth mentioning (this time without Clint Eastwood nor John Wayne) are High noon (1952) and 3:10 to Yuma (1957). Both of them are not only outstanding westerns but also the pieces of cinematographic art. They focus on the characters, their internal dilemma. Definitely deep and thought-provoking, not only a nice western to kill time. I recommend them.
I could mention also the cavalry trilogy, some other titles with Wayne, maybe some others. Maybe I will do it before I ride into the setting sun.