Bruno Bozzetto’s “West and Soda” turns fifty

“West and Soda” turns fifty: the hilarious animation movie – considered the masterpiece of Milanese director and illustrator Bruno Bozzetto – first came out in 1965, after more than two years of strenuous work.

For the anniversary, Turin’s National Cinema Museum has dedicated an exhibition to the film and its author, open until January 11, 2016 at the Temple Hall, Animation Chapelle.

Like Jacovitti with Cocco Bill, Bozzetto anticipated “spaghetti western”: he came up with the concept for “West and Soda”, in collaboration with Attilio Giovannini, in 1962 – two years before Sergio Leone’s “Fistful of Dollars” was first screened and launched the prolific, Made-in-Italy cinema genre.

The main characters in this fun parody of classic American westerns – with an anti-3D graphical style that still feels current to this day – are Cattivissimo and his brute henchmen, Smilzo and Ursus, who constantly torment Clementina, the owner of a minuscule ranch where she lives with three cows, a hen, and Socrate, an alcoholic dog.

While Cattivissimo lusts after the young lady and her tiny plot of land, Johnny is a mysterious, depressed gunman who withstands the mean team’s vexation in total apathy… until one day, he gains his confidence back and starts fighting them! Johnny gets rid of Cattivissimo and challenges his two cronies to a duel. The outcome of the exhilarating final confrontation – with Johnny vanquishing his adversaries with surreal ease – leads to the ideal happy ending.

Bozzetto has recently explained in an interview how in those days, there was a “need to escape certain genre clichés. Classic western had completed its cycle and certain ideas had reached their height. You could tackle it from different points of view and with different approaches, from irony to parody. I went that way of course, but also Leone created a kind of parody, defying traditional stylistic and narrative paradigms” (translated from an article on “Avvenire”, October 3rd 2015).

Half a century has flown by: far from being over the hill, West and Soda continues to be as cool as ever.

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November 23, 2015

Bruno Bozzetto’s “West and Soda” turns fifty

Turin, National Cinema Museum
Via Montebello, 20
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