The first snow came early this year. It may presage a long and difficult winter. Usually, first snow occurs up in the hills, with rain in the lower lying elevations and river valleys, but not so this year. Snow from top to bottom, with mild accumulations of only a quarter inch in the river valleys, where it sticks to the grass and the cars but not to the pavement. Still, it’s only October 13, a bit early to be brushing the snow off your shoulders. It has certainly thrown a monkey wrench into the dreams of busload after busload of the leaf-peepers. They have been coming in droves for the past week or so as Columbus Day weekend is the traditional high point for the foliage season. With the nearly two weeks of rain that we experienced since October began and now the snow, most of the foliage is on the ground.
On a completely unrelated note, I noticed that today’s Guardian is running a nice selection of stills from the sets of film director Sergio Leone’s works. Leone, who never rose to a position of respect with American viewers, who treated his works as lower-grade entertainment known as ‘spaghetti westerns,’ is nevertheless one of the more spiritual directors to have graced our screens.
Right from his first work, “A Fistful of Dollars,” (a reworking of Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo,” with a few scenes, in homage, stolen shot for shot), it was clear to this discerning viewer that behind the violence and the stylization was a deeply Christian ethic at work. Sequences such as Joe’s (The Man With No Name played by Clint Eastwood) meeting with the Innkeeper Silvanito clearly refer to the symbolic. From the beginning of the sequence, where Eastwood is hanging from a signpost, symbolizing the crucifixion, to the climb to the balcony, where things may be seen from a higher perspective, the juxtaposition of art and faith is deeply entwined. The entire film, right from the opening shot of a Church bell, which was most likely a reference to Bunuel, has a symbolic layer to it. This spiritualization is at the root of Leone’s moral ambiguity, and, ultimately, contributed deeply to the long lasting popular success of his works. If I get to a more stable place in my life, I’ll take some time and do an analysis of this film in which I’ll go into more detail.