In the free-wheeling Italian popular cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, film played the role of a subversive Bahktinian secular ritual. ‘Spaghetti Westerns’ or ‘Westerns alla’Italiana’ have had a unique impact on world film though they were produced by marginal filmmakers for marginal audiences, appealing to transgressive populist sentiments. The majority of films in the genre display a striking plot schema initially derived from Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961) but translated into a uniquely Italian populist idiom in Leone’s Fistful of Dollars (1964). A liminal narrative involving the figurative death of the male protagonist mediated between audience, filmmaker, the culture of both northern and southern Italy, the emerging capitalism of mid-2oth century Italy, and leftist and rightist political currents.
Beaten, Shot, Crucified: The Liminal Hero of the Carnivalesque Western alla’Italiana