DATELINE: Restoring the Un-Dead to Fake Life
Famous Trio at Sad Hill!
In Burgos, Spain, an amateur group of archeologists located the place where the climax of the movie The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was filmed in 1966.
You have to love the spaghetti western (and it is hilarious horse opera with Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef, and Clint Eastwood). Its climactic graveyard shootout is magnificent film-making—and its restored grandeur is stunning.
It is called Sad Hill Cemetery (not real), except as reel film history.
The responsible men are descended from locals who worked as extras in the movie, and they find the place is magical. It had been lost and buried under six inches of dirt. They dug up to find the circular stone center. Around it were mounds where the fake graves once stood with crosses.
It took much work, and many volunteers. They sold gravesites, with your name painted on a wooden cross, to finance the excavations.
A few survivors of the movie: film editor and composer Ennio Morricone gave interviews. The film documentary is enhanced with behind-the-scenes photos—and movie clips. Old interviews with Sergio Leone are also a treat.
It was backbreaking work to restore the concentric circles of Leone’s visionary shootout scene among the crosses, row on row.
When finished, the magic returned. A large crowd showed up in the rural area where an orchestra played the film score, the archeologists re-enacted the shootout. It went on for ten to fifteen minutes in the film, and Clint even sent a recorded thank you message to the assembled crowd.
Restored at Last!
If you love this classic Western, you need this companion piece to history, myth, and movie magic.