Thursday, June 17, 2010

Duccio Tessari on the intention to demythologize

[In 1986, Lorenzo De Luca conducted an interview with director Duccio Tessari which was published in both Lorenzo's fanzine FAR HORIZONS and his book C'ERA UNA VOLTA IL WESTERN ITALIANO.]

LDL: As with American Westerns, Italian Westerns had good and bad characters, but for us it was only a convenient distinction as our heroes were all but honest and clean. Was the reinterpretation of the classic hero intentional or did it just happen?

Duccio Tessari: I don't think there was a clear, precise intention. I say so, because I remember well the scripts for PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI (aka A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS), made with Sergio Leone, and UNA PISTOLA PER RINGO (aka A PISTOL FOR RINGO). We must not forget that our cultural ground is not American, but European. For us the distinction between Good and Evil, Black and White, doesn't exist. Even the Good one commits wicked actions and even the Evil caresses children. I would say that the attitude of demythologization is typically Italian and not only concerning the Westerns. It was not intentional, it was natural for us to write Western stories that way.


  1. Since Leone based "Fistful of Dollars on Kurosawa's "Yojimbo" and it was a big hit the following Italian westerns used the same formula and the anti-hero was born. There was no European cultural ground as a basis for the anti-hero it came with copying a successful format based on "Yojimbo".

  2. One difference between FISTFUL and YOJIMBO is that the Japanese film begins with Mifune sizing up the town and deciding that it would be more peaceful if all of the bad guys were dead. In FISTFUL, Eastwood sizes up the town and decides that there's money to be made there. In YOJIMBO, Mifune pretends to want money inorder to be accepted, while Eastwood genuinely seems to want money - though both seem to leave town at the end empty-handed.