Many films were forbidden to me as I was growing up, but not ones by Sergio Leone. My father liked the action and my mother the scenery. I found the noises astonishing: the rock'n'roll yodel of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly; the percussive clickings and the all-important silences.
The fact that they were shot in Italy, not the US, is immaterial. It's their dark, existential quality that makes them different to all-American Westerns. They're closer to the European theatrical tradition; the dialogue is pared down to absurdity. That was only because no one spoke English, and everything had to be dubbed – an accidental piece of genius.
I've said as a joke that my books are Westerns, but I also mean it. A wanderer blows in and out of town – with fewer guns, it's Chocolat.
Joanne has chosen Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time In the West as part of her Friday Night Hijack on Sky Arts next week.Reuse content