Spaghetti Western

What is the relation between western movies and Italy?

Western movies, a current that has been really popular for decades and still popular, with many people watching old and brand new movies.

In Italy western genre has always been very popular, so popular that during the 60's and 70's (in particular between 1964 and 1978) it became a cinematic movement.

But why those movies were called Spaghetti westerns?

This expression was born in the United States of America and initially meant feature films shot in Italian, with reduced budgets and scarce means (scenography etc..), according to the conventions of the first westerns, partly intentionally, partly as a consequence of the limitedness of financial resources.

So at the beginning Spaghetti Western was a derogatory term, but after some really inspired movies, also american people started to like them.

Probably the reason they weren't liked at the beginning,it was because those movies diverged from the ideal of "epic" was abandoned, italian western movies were in fact more violent, realistic; the heroic protagonist disappeared leaving space to an anti-hero driven by personal interests instead of idealistic motivations. The Italian western is not optimistic nor as moralistic as the classic one, money are almost the only real interest of the characters.

One of the first movie that presented those characteristics was "per un pugno di dollari" (a fistful of dollars) directed by the lengendary Segio Leone, this movie was the first successful one of a trilogy called the dollar trilogy that included also "per qualche dollaro in più (for a few dollars more) and Il buono, il brutto e il cattivo (the good, the bad and the ugly).

Sergio Leone (in the middle) in in the set of one of his films

But it wasn't only blood, money and duels, there were also a spinoff movement where comedy westerns were the protagonists such us Lo chiamavano Trinità (they call me trinity); protagonists were two famous Italian comedy actors named Bud Spencer and Terence Hill (from the left in the picture below).

Lo chiamavano Trinità: a milestone of Italian Spaghetti Western

The other peculiar characteristics of spaghetti western were they filming locations: the set of the movie in fact was always between Spain and Italy; for Spain most of the time in the Tabernas Desert in Andalusia, For Italy shooting locations were always set in Lazio, Puglia,Sardegna or Calabria.

Spaghetti western movies has been a stepping stone for many actors that became a worldwide stars for the time being such as Clint Eastwood.

Clint Eastwood

Many other famous actors were the stars of spaghetti western such as: Lee Van Cleef, Tomas Milian and Henry Fonda in Il mio nome è nessuno (My name is Nobody).

Last but not least, we have to mention the epic soundtracks of Spaghetti Western, most written by "il maestro" Ennio Morricone winner also of an Oscar for best soundtrack for the film The Hateful eight directed by Quentin Tarantino.

One of the most famous soundtrack of Spaghetti Western

Even if recently there isn't any western movie shot in Italy, the western genre is still very popular; in Italy there is a famous comic published since 1948 called Tex, which tells the story of a Texas rangers fighting against corrupted people and everyone that threatening the peace.

Tex has more than 700 volumes published!

Hope you enjoyed this article about a peculiar and particular aspect of Italian cinematographic culture.

A presto!


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