Everything you always wanted to know about Sergio Leone's masterpiece revealed in Sir Christopher Frayling's Once Upon a Time in the West: Shooting a Masterpiece - BOOK RELEASE

Thursday, November 08, 2018 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

The Establishing Shot says Everything you always wanted to know about Sergio Leone's masterpiece revealed in Sir Christopher Frayling's Once Upon a Time in the West: Shooting a Masterpiece - BOOK RELEASE I must confess to some shame on my part, despite many posts knocking on about great books delving into the making of film I discovered that I have only included mention of Sir Christopher Frayling only once.

     That was in relation to a talk he was giving as part of a Sir Ken Adam Retrospective, as Sir Christopher is an authority on Ken Adams along with film, culture and history.

     He is the man who who explained that Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is actually pronounced Dr Jeekle and Mr Hyde as in Hide and Seek. An English professor, who when knighted (for Services to Art and Design Education) decides that his badge is a Saguaro Cactus and the motto to adorn his coat of arms will be:

Perge, Scelus, Mihi Diem Perficias"

     Translated by the College of Heralds to mean:

"Proceed, varlet, and let the day be rendered perfect for my benefit"

     - a man with such wit and deep passion for film should be blogged about every day. But a man who can so succinctly deliver insight into a challenge of the arts that has been on my mind a lot lately, should surely be revered?

I explained that my teaching and my writing were crucially concerned with the ‘neogeneration’ of artists, designers, writers, and filmmakers: at a time when most commercial filmmakers are concerned with making films about films about films, I try to ask why there is this obsession with referring to other peoples' work in an explicit way.

Could it be that the artist's experience is increasingly limited to experience of other artists? Was it always like this?”

- Sir Christopher Frayling
     Christopher Frayling's career is immense; spanning academia, consulting, broadcasting and presenting. He epitomises the word doyenne.

     Yet he has found the time to author a staggering number of insightful books (between 18 – 20 depending on who you ask) across a vast variety of interests including translating the stories of Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon Wrote Fiction) through Strange Landscape: A Journey Through the Middle Ages via On Craftsmanship: Towards a New Bauhaus up to Ken Adam Designs the Movies: James Bond and Beyond and landing with The 2001 File: Harry Lange and the Design of the Landmark Science Fiction Film.

     Frayling has written 3 books about Sergio Leone and the Italian Western genre; Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone (1981), Sergio Leone: Something to Do with Death by Christopher Frayling (2000), Sergio Leone: Once Upon a Time in Italy (2005) as well as a Clint Eastwood biography (1993).  So he knows something about the Western genre, the Italian spin off and particularly the great  Sergio Leone.

     With Leone's Dollars or the Man with No Name Trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More  (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)) having just passed it's 50th anniversary and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West turning 50 this year.
Christopher Frayling Once Upon A Time In The West Shooting a Masterpiece
Sir Christopher Frayling Once Upon A Time In The West Shooting a Masterpiece [+]

     VIDEO: Once Upon A Time In The West - Trailer

     And knowing that Sir Christopher believes it’s one of the greatest films ever made - it makes sense that Christopher Frayling's long awaited fourth book looking at the final of Sergio Leone's Westerns - Sergio Leone Once Upon a Time in the West: Shooting a Masterpiece is on our mind this month.

Everything you always wanted to know about Once Upon a Time in the West, but were afraid to ask... And I mean everything...!”

- Sir Christopher Frayling

nbsp;    In the video below Sir Christopher introduces Once Upon a Time in the West. Which for many film lovers acknowledge as the culmination of the Italian Western genre. And certainly for Sergio Leone it was the wish fulfilment of his Western foray - closing the chapter on Westerns for him whilst opening another door to his Once Upon A Time foray.

     Video: Christopher Frayling 1999 Short Documentary on 'Once Upon A Time In The West'

“You could say that Once Upon a Time in the West was the movie that made me consider film-making ...”

- Quentin Tarantino

With Once Upon a Time in the West, several of Leone’s dreams came true: to work with Henry Fonda – a hero of his youth in suburban Rome – to make a star of Charles Bronson as he had of Clint Eastwood, to integrate musical score and visual image by recording the music in advance of filming, to re-boot some of the most hallowed moments of Hollywood Westerns, and to shoot among the buttes and mesas of Monument Valley, John Ford territory. This would be a horse opera in which the arias aren’t sung, they are stared.

Once Upon a Time has since inspired several generations of filmmakers worldwide. Its combination of “film about film” with an angry historical epic, told with great style, has resonated for half a century, and its reputation has steadily grown. This book, by the world-renowned authority on Sergio Leone Christopher Frayling, includes revealing personal interviews with all the key players involved in Once Upon a Time in the West – in front of the camera and behind it – a wealth of never-before-published documents, designs and photographs, and the latest research into the making of a masterpiece, shot by shot. It is introduced with an in-depth foreword by Quentin Tarantino, who cites the film as a major influence on his career. This year is the 50th anniversary of Once Upon a Time in the West and this richly illustrated book is a suitably spectacular birthday tribute.

Christopher Frayling is a world-renowned authority on the films of Sergio Leone. He has written Leone’s biography, curated a major exhibition about Leone’s work which has toured to Los Angeles, London and Turin , published the classic study of the spaghetti western phenomenon and provided commentaries to Leone dvds and television documentaries. Now he turns his attention to the making of Leone’s masterpiece. Christopher is an award-winning broadcaster and writer on film, design and popular culture. He was Rector of London’s Royal College of Art from 1996 to 2009, the world’s only entirely postgraduate university of art and design, and was also Chairman of the Arts Council of England and a Governor of the British Film Institute. He was Professor of Cultural History at the RCA for over 30 years and is now Professor Emeritus. Christopher was knighted in the year 2000 for “services to art and design education”.

As Sergio Leone once said to him, “it took an Englishman to take my films seriously…”

Once Upon a Time in the West: Shooting a Masterpiece by Sir Christopher Frayling is published by Reel Art Press and will be available in the UK from April 2018.

     As soon as I get eyes on Once Upon a Time in the West: Shooting a Masterpiece  I'll eagerly devour what looks to be the definitive look at the making of Once Upon a Time in the West and get a review up. But if you can't wait that long in the video on the other side of this link Frayling discusses the dual careers of Sergio Leone and Composer Ennio Morricone at a Watershed event. I was surprised to find out that Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone went to junior school together.

     Additionally there is a Once Upon A Time: Sergio Leone Exhibition at the Paris Cinémathèque Française running until 27 January 2019 to celebrate Once Upon a Time in the West's 50th Anniversary.