Eastern (2010) DV-PAL, 08.41 mins
Eastern is set in Zempukuji Park in a suburb of Tokyo. Thirty non-professional actors, who live nearby, re-enact the final scene of Sergio Leone’s ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’. One half play the role of Charles Bronson, the other Henry Fonda. Although each of the main characters is constructed of many individuals, shot for shot Eastern sticks as closely as possible to Leone’s original, the story of a dual between a man wronged and his oppressor.
Spaghetti Western specialist Leone and Japanese director Akira Kurosawa were locked in a legal battle over the copyright of the origination of what came first, the Samurai movie or the Western. Kurosawa won and thereafter ‘Once Upon A Time in the West’ was released in Japan simply as ‘Western’, re-titled here as ‘Eastern’ to emphasise his win.
With no budget for this project, what was immediately available was used for props and wardrobe. Even the dolly, an essential part of Leone’s approach to filming, was made from rollerskate wheels, plumbing tubes and knowhow acquired from youtube. Passersby drift continually in and out of shot, the DIY dolly struggles with its task and the film has an intended homespun feel. The soundtrack was made by two local musicians improvising Morricone’s score in a local bar.