you top one of the best openings in the movies ever (.........
in The West) - darkness and footsteps. Leone's film like
its predecessor was very long and I suspect cut but its
first version was at least lucid and the shocking finale
to the opening isn't fully explained until the end. We are
in gangster land and death is cheaply bought. Anyone deemed
to be a "rat" and the de Niro character starts
out without friends and we see why.
the violent opening we jump forward to the later 60s and
a older de Niro come back to face his ghosts and we then
go back to his life as a child in the deprived background
of New York and his drifting into crime with four friends
and his love for Deborah (Jennifer Connelly first and Elizabeth
McGovern the adult).
and no-one is lovable but all are believable and the lost
of one of the 5 is tragic even though they are criminals
and the younger Noodles lands in jail for avenging the lost
of his friend. Jump forward again and it seems although
years before he had "escaped" - his enemies knew
all the time where he was and had allowed him to grow old
but now wanted something from him for their largess. He
retrieves the money he thought he had stashed 30 years before
but it was to buy something and he remembers the adult 4
gangsters making waves all over New York. They had stuck
by him whilst inside and he was a made man.
had changed but it was still changing loyalties, brutal
dealings, unions and politics now. And quietly one of their
number turned himself into a respectable man whilst carrying
on as a gangster. He had ambitions but friendships remained
until it stood in the "one" persons way and it
was sold with everything else. Noodles met but couldn't
relate to his childhood sweetheart and their coupling was
awful and effectively "rape".
Noodles decided that crime was not for him and after warring
with himself "ratted" on the trio not realising
he himself was being played.
the beginning of the film - the manhunt with victims who
wouldn't or couldn't talk is thrown into sharp contrast
to the confusion at the beginning and an opium den and a
ringing phone that will drive you mad.
the final reckoning when Noodles is offered a chance of
revenge - to apologise to "Deborah" and found
out why he has been living on borrowed time. A sliver of
friendship remained but "Noodles got his own revenge
for the treachery and what happens at the end is up for
metaphor of garbage collection - possibly - has never been
so apt but joyous modern life drowns out old times and an
odyssy comes to an end. Older - not wiser but sadder.
the music. I turn away from the film sometimes but Morricone's
excelled himself in this one and the soundtrack is worth
getting and stands alone.
De Niro, James Woods, William Forsythe, Joe Pesci, Treat
Williams, Elizabeth McGovern and Tuesday Weld.
pleased Leone made this after the ridiculous - in my opinion
- "Duck You Sucker". It was a fitting legacy.