To understand The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, you must know that prior to films of this nature, called spaghetti westerns because of their Italian directors, westerns were much different in America. The typical western would be that the cowboy is the hero, comes into a town in order to restore order, and leaves. He leaves because though he stops the bad from continuing he doesn’t necessarily belong to the same group of people as the good. He is a loner, a drifter, someone who doesn’t belong to society but creates his own. The classic example of this character is John Wayne in any western. He is the prototype for all western heroes. What the spaghetti western did was to create an antihero. The cowboy was still a loner, and would still go into a town, but this time it would be for personal gain. He wouldn’t restore order, instead he would use order to find personal gain which is what we see from Clint Eastwood’s character, Blondie. He is a man who appears to do the right thing by bringing in Tuco, but his motives are as genuine as one would expect the typical cowboy archetype to be. He is out for gain and is willing to do things that are morally questionable and wrong in order to serve himself.
This film along with others that came before and after leaves a very clear mark of violence. Leone has said that he wanted to show the truth of the Old West, that it was a place where violent, uncomplicated men were the ones who built the culture and towns. Leone’s gunslinger simplified things by putting a bullet into someone in order to make things right. Where they were complicated was in their backstory. We see this with Tuco and learning about his upbringing. We also are not told anything about Blondie nor Angel Eyes past which is important because during the time of the Civil War they are able to shift from identity to identity. Photographs and identifying someone were not easy to do in those days. Thus by concealing their pasts they were able to become who they needed to be in order to make their next steps towards personal gain.
Thus, Sergio Leone as a director became an anti-hero of sorts just like his characters as he had a different point of view about the American West, war, violence and how society and culture was created in America. And he wanted to show it on screen. By doing so there were quite a large amount of criticisms regarding the violence in his pictures. Leone was able to turn the western genre from one that was built and maintained by its ability to turn a profit into one that also had critical style.