01 March 2016

"Jill's Theme" in "Once Upon a Time in the West"

In an unusual but inspired move Leone had Morricone write the score before filming began, and then had the music played on the set, which not only allowed Leone to synchronize camera movements and modulate editing rhythms with the tempo of the music, but also inspired the actors to shape their performances around the rhythms of the score. The result is an unrivalled marriage of music and image.

Consider the 90-second track and crane shot that accompanies Jill’s arrival in Flagstone. As the first few notes of Jill’s Theme begin, the camera tracks with Jill as she walks to the Flagstone train station, and then, as the music continues to build, the camera slowly cranes skyward, higher and higher until it passes over the station’s rooftop, finally revealing Jill on the other side walking in the bustling, half-built Western town just as Morricone’s soaring music reaches its rhapsodic crescendo.
I never knew that; you learn something every day. More re the musical score of this movie at Notes of a Film Fanatic, a blog that should interest film buffs.

Via Old Hollywood, an excellent photo-based film blog.

Addendum:  For those who are interested in the content of the video as well as the music and are wondering why her new family didn't meet her at the train station, this video picks up where the previous one left off:

Addendum #2:
Here is the same piece performed by Patricia Janečková:

Quite a voice.  I believe she was 12 years old at the time of this performance.
Patricia Janečková (born 18 June 1998) is a German born Slovak opera singer. She was the winner of the Czecho–Slovak television show Talentmania (cs) in December 2010.
Her webpage is here.

Reposted to celebrate Ennio Morricone finally being awarded a well-deserved (and long-overdue) Academy Award. 


  1. I just watched this last night.

  2. The pull-back into a panoramic shot was very effective.

    BTW, I really don't think they had eyeliner and fake lashes in the Old West, but what do I know? ;)


    1. Mascara has certainly been around since dynastic Egypt.

      And Jill is a reformed prostitute from New Orleans, where I'm sure eyeliner was abundant. And probably eyelash enhancement.

  3. This is my all time favorite spaghetti western. It amazed me how many people haven't heard of it so I bought a copy and loan it out all the time. Read somewhere that Fonda showed up on set with brown contacts in his eyes and Leon had a fit!! Can't imagine his character being more evil with brown eyes. Marricone compilation CD has been one of the more appreciated gifts I've given my brother.

  4. I am shocked. I have never heard of this spaghetti Western. I thought I'd seen them all.

    1. Brad - run (don't walk) to your nearest library to check out the DVD.

      "It is now considered one of the greatest films ever made and some critics consider it to be the finest Western and Sergio Leone's finest accomplishment as a director. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively collected reviews from 52 critics and gave the film a score of 98%..."

      More at the Wikipedia page (and note the "Film References" section there.)

  5. Based on this post I got the dvd from the library. A movie from long ago that is a love song to a time even longer gone by. I'm glad I watched it.


  6. Bar none IT IS the greatest western ever made- with THE BIG COUNTRY coming up behind it. Sergio Leone's Italian spaghetti westerns were all good- but this one tops every western I've ever seen.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...