10,000 Ways to Die: A Director's Take on the Spaghetti Western

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"40 years ago as a graduate student I wrote a book about Spaghetti Westerns, called 10,000 Ways to Die. It's an embarrassing tome when I look at it now: full of half-assed semiotics and other attenuated academic nonsense. In the intervening period I have had the interesting experience of being a film director. So now, when I watch these films, I'm looking at them from a different perspective. A professional perspective, maybe . . . I'm thinking about what the filmmakers intended, how they did that shot, how the director felt when his film was recut by the studio, and he was creatively and financially screwed. 10,000 Ways to Die is an entirely new book about an under-studied subject, the Spaghetti Western, from a director's POV. Not only have these films stood the test of time; some of them are very high art." --Alex Cox


This new edition of the 10,000 Ways to Die reflects the author's changing thoughts about the Italian Western, which he still greatly admires. It includes corrections, additions, and new sections on films Cox changed his mind about, or hadn't seen - including Lina Wertmuller's BELLE STAR - the only Italian Western directed by a woman.

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  • French edition: 10 000 façons de mourir : point de vue d’un cinéaste sur le western italien
  • Carlotta Films, 624 pages
  • Release date: November 16, 2021
  • Buy now: From Amazon.fr

Publisher’s description of the book (translated from French):

A colorful history of the Italian Western told by filmmaker Alex Cox. An erudite and passionate look!

With 10 000 façons de mourir, British filmmaker Alex Cox does more than provide a subjective and colorful panorama of the Italian Western: he restores its creative, economic and social history, defining the genre as one of the most political, anti-establishment and anarchistic in the history of cinema.

An unexpected bridge between the surrealist fetishism of Buñuel and the aesthetic radicalism of punk, the Spaghetti Western according to Cox refers in turn to Kurosawa’s chambara, to the emergence of queer cinema or to the pop-culture of the 1960s, to Brando and to post-Elizabethan theater. Among the dozens of filmmakers presented here, we will obviously cross the parallel destinies of the two Sergios—Leone and Corbucci—who were the first to formulate this singular vision all’italiana of the American West entirely subjected to brutality and corruption, where cynicism is the law.

Moreover, 10 000 façons de mourir never misses an opportunity to delve into the more or less shady schemes of the producers of the time, the power games between scriptwriters, the ingenuity of the directors of photography and set designers, or the lyricism of a handful of prolific composers—most notably, of course, Ennio Morricone. Finally, there are numerous portraits of flamboyant actors who shine in the Western genre: from intense performers like Gian Maria Volonté, Klaus Kinski or Tomás Milián to iconic actors such as Lee Van Cleef, Clint Eastwood and Fernando Sancho, who embody the essence of the Spaghetti Western.

These sometimes monumental, often cobbled-together films, belonging to a genre both famous and little-known, are examined by a filmmaker with an encyclopedic knowledge, who is in turns admiring, passionate, or gratingly sarcastic. A juicy tribute to the Spaghetti Western in more than fifty deciphered films.


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