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Sergio Leone quotes (compiled and transcribed from Christopher Frayling's Something To Do With Death) 




"My life, my reading, everything about me revolves around the cinema.  So for me, cinema is life, and vice-versa."



"When I go to the cinema, I'm often frustrated because I can guess exactly what is going to happen about ten minutes into the screening.  So, when I'm working on a subject, I'm always looking for the element of surprise."



"I had always thought that the 'good,' and the 'bad' and the 'violent' did not exist in any absolute, essential sense.  It seemed to me interesting to demystify these adjectives in the setting of a Western.  An assassin can display a sublime altruism while a good man can kill with total indifference."



"...the eyes are the most important element to me.  Everything can be read in them..."



"Politics no longer make any sense in Italy!  That's why I make the films I do.  We believed in mankind and mankind has let us down...As intellectuals, we have resigned ourselves, tired of the battle...Me, I live apart and don't give a damn about anything."



"You can't be a communist if you own a villa."



"Let us say that I am a disillusioned socialist.  To the point of becoming an anarchist.  But because I have a conscience, I'm a moderate anarchist who doesn't go about throwing bombs...I mean, I've experienced just about all the untruths there are in life.  So what remains in the end?  The family.  Which is the final archetype - handed down from prehistory...What else is there?  Friendship.  And that is all.  I'm a pessimist by nature.  With John Ford, people look out of the window with hope.  Me, I show people who are scared to even open the door.  And if they do, they tend to get a bullet right between the eyes.  But that's how it is."



"You can't shoot a film as if you were putting a salami into its skin.  From a project like [Kurosawa's] Ran or Once Upon a Time in America, you come away dry in the mouth, with your head in flames and your soul in shreds."





on The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: "I wanted to show human imbecility in a picaresque film where I would also show the reality of war.  I had read somewhere that 120,000 people died in Southern camps such as Andersonville.  And I was not ignorant of the fact that there were camps in the North.  You always get to hear about the shameful behavior of the losers, never the winners.  So I decided to show extermination in a Northern camp.  This did not please the Americans...The American Civil War is almost a taboo subject, because its reality is insane and incredible."



"I see Degas as if he was a great film director.  The way he managed to capture the gestures of the ballet-dancers.  Never in academic poses; always in spontaneous movements.  All those moments which appear insignificant but which on closer inspection reveal the deepest truths of a particular character.  Degas was extraordinary."



"The [John] Ford film I like most of also the least sentimental, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance...Ford finally, at the age of almost sixty-five, finally understood what pessimism is all about.  In fact, with that film Ford succeeded in eating up all his previous words about the West...Because Liberty Valance shows the conflict between political forces and the single, solitary hero of the West...He loved the West and with that film at last he understood it."



"Ever since I was a small boy I've seen a lot of Hollywood Westerns where, if you cut the woman's role out of the film in a version which is going on in your own head, the film becomes far better."




"The function of the flashback is Freudian...[Y]ou have to let them wander like the imagination or like a dream."







All of the above transcriptions belong to Sergio Leone.



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