A Fistful of DollarsEnglishFilm Recommendation
I recommend “ A Fistful Of Dollars” to be included into the film festival “Aliens and Isolates” as it is a perfect example of a film with strong themes of alienation and isolation. Sergio Leone’s uses many mise en scene techniques and strange alienating film devices to create a protagonist that is the “lone gunman”. An amoral anti-hero with a sharp dry wit and no name, which runs against the grain of the traditional western hero, he walks into town alone and leaves much the same. Leone has exploited our cultural beliefs and assumptions regarding the standard western to construct this character that defies the norms, yet still manages to position us to view the “Outsider” in an empathetic way.


The “Outsider is the main character (played by Clint Eastwood). Leone introduces his protagonist to us with a series of Mise en scene “horizon shots”, and extreme close ups of the “Outsider”, striding along confidently in a barren waist land into a dirty isolated Mexican town covered in grime in his dirty poncho with the ever-present yet never lit cigar but, and a deadly gleam to his eye. This gives an immediate sense of him being completely alone, more than a little strange and liking it that way. Not only is his physical appearance alienating, but his severe lack of dialogue and tendency to reply with dry retorts rather than the truth reinforces our view of him as an outsider, and leaves us with a great silence in regards to his past etc… also it becomes clear early on in the film that he has no qualms with blood-shed, and although his acts of violence are done for the benefit of the innocents the viewer is left wondering how far his ambiguous version of morality will stretch. This detached amoral and antisocial protagonist is hardly the normal western hero traditionally found in the genre. Throughout the film this character causes constant disruption to the viewers cultural assumptions of the film as a western.


From the very beginning Sergio Leone holds no pretence of conforming to the cultural assumptions of the standard western film, the eerie “whistle music” in the beginning creates an immediate sense of something being not quite normal. And


“A fistful of dollars” is by no means a standard western. In a standard western one will find a strongly defined Good guy and Bad guy. The good guy will act as avatar of the people who are being terrorised by the bad guy’s, save them all, and in doing so fall in love with a local girl to settle down and abandon his roguish ways. Although


“A fistful of dollars” includes many of the mise en scene traditions of the western, dirty small town, bell tower, western clothing etc… the plot runs contradictory to the norm and has blurred definitions of good and bad. Normally there would be a “hero” who fights unquestioningly for the sake of justice and peace, and will win in the end no matter what, providing the “happy ending guarantee” that provides reassurance for the viewer during times of strife. In “A Fistful of dollars” we have instead a


“Anti-hero” who is morally questionable and unpredictable, this is exemplified by the dismissive manner in which he kills eg: casually telling the coffin maker to set up the coffins on the way past, and the fact that he forms no attachments at all in the town and moves on in the end. This forces the viewer out of there comfort zone with the threat of a possible unhappy ending, which in turn forces them to contemplate the perhaps unsettling ideas forwarded in the film.


Manipulating these same cultural assumptions and beliefs Leone still manages to position the viewer to view the “Outsider” in an empathetic way. Although the outsider is certainly portrayed as amoral and violent his actions are justifiable by the fact that they are a means to an end, ultimately freeing the town and defeating the bad guys. In the context of a standard western the outsiders actions and behaviour would likely constitute a negative reaction from the viewer. However from the beginning of


“A Fistful of dollars” Leone was undermining the viewer’s predisposition to judge the film by the cultural