From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Spaghetti Western is a nickname for a broad sub-genre of Western film that emerged in the mid-1960s, so named because most were produced by Italian studios. Originally they had in common the Italian language, low budgets, and a recognizable highly fluid, violent, and minimalist cinematography that eschewed (some said "demythologized") many of the conventions of earlier Westerns — partly intentionally, partly as a result of the work being done in a different cultural background and with limited funds. The term was originally used disparagingly, but by the 1980s many of these films came to be held in high regard, particularly because it was hard to ignore the influence they had in redefining the entire idea of a western up to that point.
The best-known and perhaps archetypal spaghetti Westerns were the so-called Man With No Name trilogy (or Dollars Trilogy) directed by Sergio Leone, starring the American then-TV actor Clint Eastwood and with musical scores composed by Ennio Morricone (all of whom are now synonymous with the genre): A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). The last is one of the most famed Westerns of all time. Atypically for the genre, it had a relatively high budget in excess of one million USD.
Many of the films were shot in the Spanish desert region of Almería, which greatly resembles the landscape of the American Southwest. (A few were shot on Sardinia.) Because of the desert setting, and the readily available southern Spanish extras, a usual theme in Spaghetti Westerns is the Mexican Revolution, Mexican bandits and the border zone between Mexico and the US.
Other "Food Westerns"
The name led to various other non-U.S. westerns being associated with food and drink.
- Chorizo/paella western are used for similar films financed by Spanish capital, although Leone's earlier films were actually shot in Almería.
- Publicity for the Japanese comedy film Tampopo coined the phrase "Noodle Western" to describe the parody made about a noodle restaurant. (The Japanese prefer the term "macaroni Western" to refer to the films of Leone et al.)
- Robert Rodriguez's westerns, El Mariachi, Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico, have been called "Burrito Westerns."
- Sometimes Hrafn Gunnlaugsson's Viking movies are called "Cod Westerns."
- The German Westerns of the 1960s, which were successful in Europe before the Italian Westerns, often made after novels by Karl May and mostly filmed in Yugoslavia are often called "Sauerkraut Westerns". The GDR DEFA Studios made Sauerkraut Westerns in Yugoslavia like their West German counterparts and also had a Native American as hero (usually played by Gojko Mitic).
- The Red Dwarf episode Gunmen of the Apocalypse has been described as the world's only "Roast Beef Western", although the British director Shane Meadows' film Once Upon a Time in the Midlands has been described as a "tinned-spaghetti Western."
- John Woo's Western movies were described by Roger Ebert as "Dim Sum Western."
- The Thai film Tears of the Black Tiger by director Wisit Sasanatieng has been dubbed both a "stir-fry horse opera" and "a Pad Thai Western" by critics.
- The "Red Western" or "Ostern" or "Borscht Western" is the Soviet and eastern bloc's take on the genre.
- Time magazine dubbed the animated TV series Samurai Jack, which combined elements of — among others — anime and the Sergio Leone films, a "Soba Western."
- Monty Python's Flying Circus provided a "cheese Western" parody as a film critic discussed Sam Peckinpah's Rogue Cheddar film.
- An entire sub-genre of Westerns produced by the Indian film industry, and especially Bollywood based in Mumbai, is whimsically named "Curry Western." Notable as being one of the most successful box-office hits of all time in India is the "Curry Western" Sholay.
- Danish moviemakers did a couple of westerns in the sixties, which are usually referred to as "potato-westerns". The Danish word is "kartoffelwestern"
- In 2007, Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike directed a western called Sukiyaki Western Django.
- Spanish filmmaker Álex de la Iglesia stated that his 2002 movie "800 balas" ("800 bullets") is a "marmitako western", being marmitako a typical Basque dish made with tuna.
- South Korean film The Good, the Bad, the Weird by director Kim Ji-woon, a revival of the "Manchurian western" genre, has been referred to in some sections of the media as a "kimchi western".
- Spaghetti western's influence on Lee Perry
- List of Spaghetti Western films
- Co-productions in Spanish cinema
- Revisionist Western
- Sholay, often referred to as a "curry western"
- Sukiyaki Western Django
- Zapata Western
- ZWAM, a youth movement in Madagascar inspired by Spaghetti Westerns