Personal: ONCE UPON A TIME
“Forget it. I don’t invest in land.”
Charles Bronson as Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
ONCE UPON A TIME IN ALMERIA
Nothing, but burnt soil, dried out rivers, naked rock – wasteland in grey, yellow and light brown, a shrub here and there. Trees are a sensation. This doesn’t look like Europe, but it is. This unbelievable piece of earth is located in the middle of the coastal province of Almería, in Andalusia, Spain. The native people call it “muy salvaje paisaje” – very wild land. No other region in Europe is so heavily destroyed by erosion like this part of Spain. It is Europe’s sole desert.
In the mid 1960th this wasteland was discovered by the cinema industry because its bizarre scenery resembles the American West. Director Sergio Leone was giving the Spaghetti Western a home. Here Lawrence from Arabia was riding through the canyons, General Patton blew several tanks away and Indiana Jones lost his hat. Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, Lee van Cleef, Clint Eastwood, Henry Fonda, Alan Delon and Arnold Schwarzenegger, just to name a few, they all were here. But the landscape was the real star. Several movie sets are in existence to this day, some carefully preserved and rebuilt, some more crumbled and abandoned, but authentic. Damn real looking cowboys hanging around and a mare is nursing its foal right beside the gallows. The saloon, the prison, the telegraph office – it’s an optical illusion of board, plaster and paint. And the spirit is still out there.