Director: Sergio Leone, 1965. (R)
Clint Eastwood reprises his mythical cowboy role. Here, strangely enough, the man with no name gets a moniker: Manco, although that may be more an allusion to his habit of keeping one hand on his gun and only using the other for fighting (the Spanish word "manco", or "monco" in Italian, means "one-armed"). But Manco is not the same person as Fistful's Joe, as the Italian courts decided. Rather, he is a persona, the archetypal Leone cowboy, in his pancho and hat.
Like Fistful, Leone crafts a stylized and violent (for its time) western. Once more he uses Ennio Morricone to score the movie, giving it his distinctive tone. And here Van Cleef gets as much screen time as Eastwood. Together, they take the spaghetti western to a new level.
This points to a Biblical principle on partnership. Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, penned:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecc. 4:9-12)
The title card declared that life had no value, but life is indeed precious. We may take it for granted, and live recklessly in our youth thinking our lives stretch endlessly to the horizon. "Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty," (Psa. 90:10) but we don't appreciate them until they are almost gone. We need to face our mortality by living each day as though it were our last, the day when we will come face to face with our God. Then we will see afresh, enjoying the little details of our lives. And we can only truly appreciate this life if we have experienced true life in Jesus Christ, who came to give us life (Jn. 10:10).
The title card may have gotten the value of life wrong, but it is spot on regarding death. Death reigns over all of us, a consequence of sin (Rom. 5:21). Indeed, the apostle Paul pointed out that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). We cannot avoid physical death. It will come to us all, a thought many find morbid but one that is realistic. The second half of this verse gives us hope: "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." We can decide if we will receive the gift or live under the curse of our payment.
Copyright ©2011, Martin Baggs