Spaghetti Westerns and Sergio Leone are the cinematic equivalent of bacon and eggs. Peanut butter and jelly. Or any other divinely matched pairing the world would not be quite the same without. (although I could get along quite well without bacon and eggs, but for sake of argument…) Although slim in number, the seven feature films that make up Leone’s body of work had the remarkable effect of reinventing a dead genre (the Western) with his own brand of grit, realism and sweeping beauty. In watching his films today, it is little wonder that the director’s first job was as an assistant on Vittorio de Cica’s The Bicycle Thief—the good guys and the bad guys are equals as flawed, corruptible, f’d up humans. Hence the eternal humanity of Leone’s work.
To mark Leone’s 80th birthday, and the 20th anniversary of his death, the Rome Film Festival has paid tribute to the Italian director with a special exhibition of photographs taken from the Leone family archives, the Cineteca di Bologna and the Experimental Centre of Cinematography.
A selection from the exhibit follows below: