Fistful of Dollars (and why it contains my favorite piece of cinema)
Fistful of Dollars is one of my favorite westerns. You just can't get much better than this, and it's a definite watch. I went back and watched this film since I recently watched Yojimbo, and I wanted to compare how the remake changed things. And while I really liked Yojimbo, I must say I liked this film better, though it could just be that I'm partial to Clint Eastwood.
While Yojimbo was definitely influenced by Westerns, Fistful of Dollars took the story and made it its own. Sure the basic premise, and many of the details, were the same. You still have one man playing both sides of a crooked town against each other to make money off of them. Many of the characters and locations are almost the same as well. But Clint played the character much tougher I thought, and gave it a nice cowboy feel. And I felt more connection with his character than the samurai, and I think it's because the character was more likable, though just as despicable.
They also made the story bigger! There was not only one fire in the town, but two! There were more guns, more action, and they seemed to pack more story into the same time frame. There just seemed to be more going on in this town, at a quicker pace. But what they added didn't feel out of place either, and I think it helped the story a lot.
Both films contained excellent filmmaking. I noticed throughout Fistful of Dollars that the camera was always where it should have been, capturing the story in the perfect image every time. Some of the night time scenes suffered from some poor day-for-night photography, but other than that the camera work was top-notch!
The best change however in my opinion, is the final resurrection scene, when Clint Eastwood's character comes back to face them one more time. The final showdown is one of my favorite scenes in all of cinema! He makes his entrance through a pillar of dynamite smoke, gets shot multiple times, but continues to get up. He came back from the grave, and he's invincible!
Not only that, but the quick draw is more extreme too! Not only is it who can draw their gun first, it's who can pick it up off the ground, reload, aim, and fire first. If that isn't epic, I don't know what is.
The final scene may be the only reason I like it more than Yojimbo, or it just may be the fact that I grew up watching Westerns more and loving them. Either way, I recommend you watch both films, because both are amazing stories by amazing storytellers. And either one will ask you the question: Who should be our judge? Can a man who travels from town to town to kill really make the call as to who is deserving of death? Especially when he seems so motivated by money?
Or perhaps he's the only one who can carry out the execution because he already has blood on his hands, and it's his job to go from town to town and weigh the scales of unrighteousness.
Whatever the answer is, he certainly finished the job in this film, riding off to the horizon, leaving a very busy coffin maker in his wake.