This is a coda to my piece on the Spaghetti Western at Mute, and was largely very kindly provided by Steve Wright (author of Storming Heaven) and Alberto Toscano. I should also mention this piece on violence, politics, and the spaghetti western which Steve drew to my attention.
We can trace the influence of the Spaghetti Western, and its close cousin the Westerns of Sam Peckinpah, directly amongst the militants of the Italian ultra-left in the 1970s. This was, appropriately, a rather fraught and difficult negotiation. Stefano Lepri, a militant from the Roman section of Potere Operaio, recalls that ‘In 1968 we didn't have a lot of time for cinema … Some liked Once Upon a Time in the West, others considered it “escapist,” as the saying then went, and banal’. He goes on to mention various films across successive years, from The Bonnot Gang to Easy Rider and Queimada, and concludes:
Now the Spaghetti Western is used as a defence against the charge of advocating violence.When Stille cites phrases from my old books they are all butchered and taken out of context. For example, he cites the ominous sentence “No pity for our enemies!” but fails to say that it was clearly in my text an ironic citation from a Sergio Leone spaghetti western film.