The Spaghetti Western emerged in the mid 1960s, taking its name from the fact that most of the films were directed and produced by Italians. The term ‘Spaghetti Western’ is rumoured to have originally been used in a pejorative context by foreign critics who felt the films were inferior to their American counterparts. Despite often being made with low budgets, many Spaghetti Western’s received a critical re-appraisal in the eighties, due to their innovative and artistic construction. Today, the term ‘Spaghetti Western’ is not generally considered to be depreciative, and the genre continues to command audiences and critical acclaim.
However, it was the partnership of Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone that is generally credited as having defined the unique aesthetic of the genre with Leone’s classically-inspired composition and framing, and Morricone’s stripped back, quintessentially Italian scores.
In this talk, Sir Cristopher Frayling discusses the Spaghetti Western, focusing on the defining partnership of director Sergio Leone and composer Ennio Morricone in the genre's origins, the use of Italian cultural references and the iconography of the Catholic church, and the ‘Italianising’ of Western conventions.
Sir Christopher Frayling is a writer and film scholar who was knighted in 2001 for his 'Services to Art and Design Education'. He has taught history at the University of Bath, and was Chairman of Arts Council England from 2005 to 2009.
Posted on Sun 5 Feb 2012.