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7 Cinematic Trademarks of the Master of the Spaghetti Western, Sergio Leone


Italian director Sergio Leone’s cinematic style was so powerful and influential that it paved the way for a whole new Western subgenre, the Spaghetti Western. Films like A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly put Leone’s work on the map in the mid-1960s, but his 1968 epic Once Upon a Time in the West is considered his masterpiece. In this video essay, Sareesh Sudhakaran breaks down the tavern scene from this film, which he considers to be the best representation of Leone’s stylistic approach to visual storytelling.

Sudhakaran lists seven cinematic elements that are quintessentially Leone, all of which are present in the tavern scene.

  • Actors popping into scenes
  • Close ups and long shots
  • The element of surprise
  • Suspense
  • Great music
  • Great dialogue
  • Economy of storytelling – pure cinema

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