Sad Hill Unearthed (2017) - full transcript

In 1966 the Spanish Army built a huge cemetery with over 5000 graves at Mirandilla Valley in Burgos for the final sequence in the film "The Good the Bad and the Ugly". After the shooting, the whole place was left behind and for 49 years, nature covered every tomb. In October 2015 a group of film fans decided to start digging - and under 3 inches of ground they found the original paved circle. For months, people from all around Europe traveled to Sad Hill to unearth and rebuild the place. Sad Hill Unearthed is the amazing story behind one of the most important locations in film history. It explores the dreams and motivations behind the fans but also the transformation of art, music and film in a substitute for religion.

[crowd cheering and applauding]


Alright, you need one more, right?

JULY 2011

-[crowd] Yeah!
-[Hetfield] So do we.

So we wanna turn on the houselights
if that's possible.

'Cause this is what happens
at the end of the Metallica show.

We wanna see the sweat.

We wanna see...

We wanna see
the voices struggling to talk.

We wanna see people just destroyed.
We wanna see the smiles.

-Can we turn on the houselights, please?
-[crowd cheering]

[Hetfield] Thank you, Gothenburg!
The Metallica family!

In July 1966 the Spanish Army raised
a huge graveyard in Burgos.

That cemetery had over 5,000 graves...

...but no one buried in them.


When the shooting ended, after July,...

everything was quickly forgotten.

All film sets were left behind.
The concentration camp, its constructions,

the wood, tents, all was left there.

The trenches with...


...all props,
some of the porexpan canyons.

All the crosses and signs at the cemetery.

Some people say
there are crosses from the film

on the rooftops of nearby villages,

to prevent water leaks.

It deteriorated progressively
over 48 years.

Until it became invisible

to anyone walking around.

Nature has done its job,
slowly burying the place.

And at the end,
it lied below 7 inches of soil.

In that summer 1966 people worked
on the film, earned their money,

but no one spoke about it afterwards.
No one spoke about it.

When I first heard about it
I was shocked.

That announcement changed my life.

There's so much said with no words
in this movie...


...makes it universal.

Almost nothing had come along...


...that was as big
as "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".

Everything is so perfect.


The directing, the music,

the production design, the editing.

[Leigh] You could take a single sequence
of that film and frame it

and it would be
a fantastic piece of artwork to have

because there are just
so many individual shots...


...that are stunning to look at
in that film.

It shows the toughness,
it shows the dirtiness,

it shows the unpredictability of the west.

You can watch the film over and over

and see something different every time.

Italian Westerns are more fashionable.


More fashionable design-wise
with the clothes, the production design

and the music.

They're more hip, something sort
of stylish, hence Tarantino.

Ennio Morricone...

The... The soundtrack to that movie

is so horribly great.

This music is considered...


...the second best in the world,

in 100 years of cinema.

I don't remember ever being
as exhilarated

by a movie as I was with
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"

and a large part of that has to do
with the scene in the cemetery.

The cemetery is one of the most
beautiful sequences

in film history.

The plot of the film
was the search of the grave

where the treasure was buried.

This sequence represents
the perfect ending for the film.

You get so much emotion
from that scene.

You can feel every ounce of tension

from each character.
And it's just wonderful filmmaking.

They take scenes
that would ordinarily be

a five minute scene
in an American Western

and it's now a 15-minute scene,

because every nuance is explored.

[Frayling] Luciano Vincenzoni,
the script writer, said to me:

"It said in half a page:
the three of them walk into a cemetery,"

"they have a duel, one of them dies."

And that page or those two pages
became 20 minutes of screen time.

I remember
the first time I saw Leone's movie,

at the cinema in Majorca,
where I lived.

I went with my grandfather.

He took me to the cinema,
I was only five years old,

I didn't know which movie
we were going to see.

Most of all, I remember the music.

We sat down, lights turned off
and when the first notes sounded

I was blown away
by what I was listening to.

I saw it as a kid,
most likely in black and white.

And what I do remember is
when I bought my first VHS.

It had a cropped 4:3 format for TV.

So the duel sequence was a mess.

We had a relief teacher at school...


...and he talked about this movie.


He talked about this film about three...

protagonists looking for 200,000
dollars in buried gold

during the American Civil War.

And he described it
in such a great way,

sort of the way
that maybe Sergio Leone

or Christopher Frayling
would describe the story,

it was really exciting, and I thought:
"Wow, I have to see this movie."

"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly",
I think I was predestined to it

because my father is from

a village 30 minutes away
from the filming location,

and my mother is from Gérgal,
in Almería, a town near Tabernas Desert.

When we went to Almería we visited
MiniHollywood and the desert,

and watched western movies.

As a child I watched the movie
with my father and my uncles

I knew nothing about
Leone nor Eastwood,

but I just loved them.
I watched them a thousand times.

After a long time watching

and revisiting Leone's movies

I began to hear people's stories
saying they had worked in the movie,

one played as extra,
others talked about the bridge story.

So I started to investigate into
the film they were talking about.

And it was
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly",

and the cemetery was
a few miles from where I lived.

And there's people researching,
passionate about the subject.

I knew the locations
since I was a kid.

We went to the cemetery
with our bikes.

But it got serious when we opened
the Dinosaurs Museum in Salas,...


...and some tourists came asking about
locations with pictures taken from a TV.


And that's when we became
interested in finding

exactly every location.

If you put together Morricone's music
with having enjoyed these places,

and suddenly realising

your grandfather worked in the film,

that left a big mark inside me.

Big enough to make me look for information

about what happened here
in the summer of 1966.

The film starts...

My new film,
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"...

SERGIO LEONE INTERVIEW, 1966 could say it is

an epic picaresque western because...

it is the story of three magnificent
and funny scoundrels

during the American Civil War.

It begins as a classic western...

in a little village from the Far West.

At the premiere for "A few dollars more",

Leone was approached
by producers from United Artists

who offered him a huge budget
to realise the third film in the trilogy.

So for him it was finally
an opportunity...

"FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE" go as big as he wanted

and to create a film that was
on the largest scale imaginable.

Leone's career is so strange
in those 3 years, 1964, 1965, 1966.

1964 "Fistful of dollars",
budget 200,000 dollars.

Huge success in Italy.
Immediately on the back of it

"For a few dollars more",
budget 600,000 dollars.

The most successful film ever made
in Italy at that time.

Right on the back of that

"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly",
budget 1.3 million dollars.

So he is going from 200,000 dollars
to 1.3 million dollars in 2.5 years.

Certainly, the third western film
of Sergio Leone

is where he had improved exponentially,

even if before
it was already very high.

After editing
"For a few dollars more",

Sergio Leone whom I loved, said:

"I'm doing a new film
'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly',

I want the editor

to be in Spain with me."

In fact, the first part of the film

"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"
was shot in Almería.

[man] Western and American epic movies

have impressive landscapes
at their disposal.


Spain presents a varied topography

with a wide range of natural
cinematographic scenarios.

-Settlements accurately reconstructed.

[saloon music]

[man] Even if it is easy to find out
what's behind the façades.

As the movie takes place
during the American Civil War

Leone had secured locations
in Madrid and Almería

but he soon realised he would require
greener locations as well.

[Frayling] Leone once said that

Northern Spain is like Virginia,

Southern Spain is like
Arizona and New Mexico.

'Betterville Concentration Camp'
was the first location,

in Carazo,
and during those days they decide

to locate the cemetery
in Mirandilla Valley,

between Santo Domingo de Silos
and Contreras.

-That's the cemetery!

Holy shit! Oh man! Oh, my God!

We found it! This is it!



-We are on one of the mountains!
-I know! I didn't expect this!

Holy shit!

This is one of the coolest
moments of my life.

This is honestly like...
This is out there with the greats.

-Daniel, isn't this the coolest thing?
-It's pretty cool.

I just can't believe we found it.

It's like going to Disneyland
and no one's there.

[Daniel] Yeah.

Except it's not a recreation,
it's the Magical Kingdom.

[Daniel] Yeah.

The first time we saw the cemetery
we didn't even realise we were there.

-[interferences and screeching noises]
-[man] We're having...


MAY 1996

It was when we reached
the summit of San Carlos

and we saw
the concentric circles from above.

I realised that was the location of
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".

[man on the recording] And there we can
see "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".

I remember watching the film on TV,

trying to memorise
the shape of the mountains...

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY we could go later
and find the exact spot.

Once I found the location, I told David,

"Why don't we go some day
and place the movie's main tombs?"

"Arch Stanton and Unknown."

We photoshopped some replicas,
I used my father's miter saw

to cut some old boards.

[boy] I always thought the location was
exquisitely beautiful and perfect

and that it would be amazing
to lay my eyes on it.

[boy 2] The geography plays such a part
in telling the emotional story

that for me seeing it myself
became quite important.

[boy 3] Oh, my God,
you can see the mounts.

[whispering] You can see the mounts.

Here is Arch Stanton and Unknown.

Man, am I grateful to the fans
who put this together?

[boy 2] It's like going to ruins
that haven't been touched by men.

It's the best preserved place I've been
with no preservation work done.

You know? Like it really looks
almost the exact same.

For me, that place is magical. It's like
being in another world, in the film.

[Montero] I love walking around
when it's empty.

It's a pleasure.

There is barely any noise.

It's a little paradise.

Being there...
You can shoot not just a western,

you could shoot a movie
about Neanderthals.

There are no power lines,
no TV antennas,

I think the landscape is just impressive.

I remember that here in Sierra
de la Demanda, a magazine came out.

For the first time I realised
there was someone, somewhere,

also researching about the film.

I was very impressed by a picture
of Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef,

and a Civil Guard,

taken at the cemetery.
We didn't know it,

but it had been published in a book
by Cineteca Nazionale di Roma.

And I became interested

in behind-the-scenes photos
that might be kept by the locals.

Diego had been investigating
and looking for locations for years.

We started speaking
and sharing materials.

He already had many old photos.

I collected photos from neighbours
who worked in the movie.

I met more people and we started sharing
everything we found.

[Del Valle] When Eli Wallach passed away,

many people got together
at the stoned circle in Sad Hill.

Members of the Association were there,
and that's where I met...

JULY 2014

...Sergio and David.

And this has been part
of the excitement to me

because I met a lot of great people
and we spent unforgettable moments.

That's the genesis of the Association.

Seeing that we were not only
a couple of fools.

We saw there was a lot of people
that could participate.

That's where we spoke about
the 50th anniversary.

Somebody said: "We have to make
something big for the 50th anniversary.

It has to be great."

We thought we could bring in the hoes
and see what happened.

When we hit the ground

and found the first stone,
we were shocked.

So we decided we had to do the effort
and restore the cemetery.

I thought it was crazy,
I honestly thought that was insane.

Wonderfully crazy, but crazy.

The idea was to restore it
so that others could enjoy it.

For all these westerns
and adventure films made in Almería

and in Burgos and all over Spain

you had the sort of tacit approval
of the Franco regime.

There's an interesting quote
from Eastwood.

Clint Eastwood did a seminar at
the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences.

And somebody says to him: "Did anyone
object? Because the film is anti-war.

It's quite liberal in its politics.
It's very cynical about nationalism.

Uniforms and all this sort of thing.
Did anyone object?

Was there any censorship?"
And Eastwood says: "Look.

If it'd been a film about Spain

or about the Spanish Civil War
or about Spanish troops,

yeah, there would have been
a lot of problems.

They couldn't have got to first place.

But with the wild west,
they didn't give a damn."

Today it's difficult
not to include politics in a film,

it comes in on its own.


So a more serious approach is to make...

From my point of view,
that I share with others

more important than me,
for example, Chaplin,

is to make, to speak through...
The show needs to be a vehicle,

a bicycle to be able to make
certain arguments we are interested in,

but without taking a position, because...

taking a position means making a claim.

This is a type of cinema
that I don't like.

The original idea was to get
local villagers

to help out with the creation of sets
but also play as extras,

but it quickly became very chaotic.

So they decided to turn to the Spanish
army who were more reliable.

Franco's Government, there was Franco
at that point in Spain,...


...helped Leone
because he had brought many movies,

lots of money to make
Italian, French, Spanish movies.

So they gave him a thousand soldiers

with the captain and the general.

Back then, military service
was mandatory for young people

and the San Marcial Quarters
located in Burgos, and today disappeared,

gave the manpower that the Italians
and the Americans were looking for

to work both in
the construction of the sets

and play as extras in the shooting.

In one of the letters
from Aldo Pomiglia

he mentions they will give
75,000 pesetas to those quarters.

The San Marcial Quarters
in Burgos, for the orphans.

Overnight they brought us
from the barracks to make a movie.


Looks like they made a contract
with the military government.

They brought us to this region,
to the town of Hortigüela.

In Hortigüela

we stayed in a military service camp.

And then every day
we had something to do:

repair things,

build the bridge, build the cemetery.

It was huge. And you got paid for it:
250 pesetas per day.

Even bars opened in Hortigüela.

And if you did something else,
like playing dead in the water,

they paid you more.

That was our job and many days
we didn't have anything to do.

It was a vacation. Just like those trips

with the boy scouts. Same thing.


[García] The first days with the hoe
were frustrating

because it didn't come out easily,

even if many people came,
it was arduous.

Hard work, because you have to dig
considering 7 inches below

are the stones that can't be touched,
they are sacred.

[men speaking indistinctly]

So we decided that patience
and perseverance was the key.

It was almost like archaeology.

I asked for a big broom
to a guy from Segovia.

People came closer
and we saw that it was a reality.

The stones were there,
you could see them.

Something I had fought for
all my life was becoming real.

Maybe people don't understand how

a person has dreams
about a film location.

Well, for me...

It's a magic place. A magic place.

[Montero] We thought it would take
two weekends, but it took longer.

It got a bit out of hands.

We decided we had to launch a call
for all the film fans

and we used social networks.

We created a website,
a Facebook page,

and through volunteer calls

we managed to transform
every weekend in a pilgrimage

with shovel, hoe, and really excited

about seeing it as it was in the film.

We managed to get people
from all over Spain,

even from France and Italy.

And then you see there is people
that is even more freak, more fan.

[Alba] Seeing all the people
that have gone there to work really hard,

to carry wheelbarrows, picking
and shovelling, has been beautiful.


[man] I have found a stone!

I've found a stone! There.
Shit, no is not.


I visited Tabernas Desert and I have found
out that four...


scenes of the film were shot in Burgos.

This is the fourth time that I come

to Burgos to help the Association

to dig.

It is a dream
that we've had for a long time

since we got married in 1976,

the time when the Spaghetti movies
from Leone were released

and we saw them again and again,

and we fell in love with
the culture of those western films.

So I hope that the cemetery
is brought back to its original status

and I hope
that many Spanish and European people

will come to celebrate
this mythic location.

[Del Valle] I wonder,

why would somebody come from France
to help restore the place,

with his hoe and his shovel?

Can someone understand that?

Cinema takes you
to impossible places.

Cinema means being in places
you could never be in real life.


And suddenly discover that they do exist
as part of an unknown territory

where you can become an archaeologist

and find it. I think it's fascinating.

I'm not surprised
that people want to unearth the cemetery.

It is something
that I would like to do too,

because it makes our dreams more real.

And that is a fantastic feeling.

Why do they wanna go
and recreate the cemetery?

No explanation needed. I mean...

You wanna give back,
you wanna feel part of.

You wanna feel like you're involved
in something that has shaped your life.

I think it is a need to be
part of something eternal.

Everyone carries this around,
it's part of our culture.

And is worldwide.
It's the reason why we restore films

and save negatives
and all the things that could go away.

It's a very ephemeral world

and the idea of unearth something
that means something to you

and do it not just for yourself
but for the greater good

of everybody who cares
about this subject.

It's altruism in its finest form.

I think it is wonderful
that all these volunteers

have been helping
to restore the location of...

'Cause it is one
of the greatest locations

of the duel on the cemetery from
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".

But it doesn't surprise me.
It's a piece of magic in your life

getting involved in this project.

[Alabiso] The cemetery is a construction

that will prevail in the history of cinema
for 1,000 years.

Maybe all these volunteers
want to make history as well.

[Hetfield] I think artists are still...

You know they are insecure,

and they don't know
really who they are yet,

and that's how they express the art,

that's how they get the things
out there and do these...

interesting things.

And I think the fans are young as well,
they're on that same wavelength,

looking for something

for meaning in life.

It's the greatest dream.

To touch the stones
where Clint Eastwood stood.

I would say that's a reason
big enough to unearth them.

[Hetfield] So one more song for you.

JULY 2011

And we hope you have a voice because
we need you singing on this one, ok?

And you are going
to help us count it in, alright?

-¡1, 2, 3, 4!
-[crowd] ¡1, 2, 3, 4!

-¡1, 2, 3, 4!
-¡1, 2, 3, 4!

-¡1, 2, 3, 4!
-¡1, 2, 3, 4!

You're in the middle of a movie
that already looks expensive,

and all of the sudden the camera pans

and the entire civil war is in the shot.

There were two hills like this,
in the middle of nature and below

there was a stream

that separated on one side the North,
on the other the South.

[Urrutia] We had to shoot
the Langstone...

Bridge scenes in the Arlanza river.

Trenches were placed in one hill

and I remember temperatures reached

40º degrees Celsius
and over that summer.

Then in the morning
they didn't dress as soldiers

but with the costumes that Sergio Leone
and the costume designer had.

"Confederate for you,
unionist for you."

Hey, I need 200 people dressed as X.

Then they got 200 soldiers,
gave them clothes,

and they prepared the backpack
and everything to act as extras.

I was in the South
against the North in the bridge.

We met there and sometimes
we fought for real

because the Civil Guard
let us use blaze Winchesters

and every time you shot,
powder came out into the eyes

and it hurt.

[Urrutia] Sergio Leone was very demanding.

I don't know if he was a perfectionist,

but he repeated the same scene
over and over.

And every time he said "molto bene".

And I wondered:
"If 'molto bene', why do we repeat it?"

[Frayling] They got the assistance
of the Spanish Army

both for building but also
the explosives people for the bridge.

Usually on a film production
the technical crew would be in charge

of special effects and explosions.

[Hanley] But for blowing up the bridge
they needed TNT so they relied

on experts from the Burgos' Army
who knew where to place the explosives

and how to make sure
you got a chain reaction

that the bridge blew up
almost simultaneously.

Most likely everyone tells
the bridge story as he likes.

Do you want the truth about the bridge?

Who was responsible?
Everyone washes their hands of it.

[Salvati] It was 8 am,

Sergio Leone approaches me and says,

like this: "Today you are on your own

operating the slow motion camera,
the one that goes at 200 frames."

"What do you mean I am alone?

Don't we have the Spanish, the Italians?"

"Take care of the camera, you know it.
You're on your own. Get into the shelter.

You are responsible today,
my trusted camera operator."

Sergio came to me and said:
"You and Eli,

I want you guys to be sitting
right up here in the front...


...and there is a little ditch

that you could lie in
and you'll be quite safe there".

And I said: "Where are you
going to be, Sergio?"

And he said: "I'm going to be
back up on the hill over there".

I said: " You know where I'm gonna be?

I'm gonna be right next
to you up on that hill."

So we all came on the hill, they put
two guys on our wardrobe really fast

and stuck them
right there in the front.

All seven camera operators
are given a little telephone

not a telephone, a walkie talkie
from that time, 50 years ago.

The order was like this:
"Camera one, rolling.

Camera two: rolling.

Camera Three. Four.
Five. Six. Seven."

And then he had to say "Action".

The lieutenant,
proud to be in front of the director

asks if he can give

the signal
for the explosion of the bridge.

Leone says, "Yes, I allow you,
you can give the signal.

All you have to do is
shake the handkerchief in your hand,

and they will detonate the bridge."

The lieutenant proudly says:

"Then Mr. Director, all I have to do
is move it like this and the br..."


He couldn't say "bridge explodes".
It had already exploded.

At some point I hear an explosion
and the bridge is blowing away.

And I start rolling.

It was huge, there were logs
and there were rocks coming back

and the poor doubles that were out there

just luckily got out of the way,
rocks were flying over their heads.

Sergio Leone didn't have
the courage to turn around

to look at the bridge that had exploded.

We didn't know that up on the hill.

We thought: "They've blown up
the bridge, that's spectacular."

And then, all of the sudden,
Sergio comes walking down the road

and he's fuming, he's absolutely red.

And I just leaned over jokingly
and I said to Elli Wallach. I said...

"They probably didn't have
the cameras rolling."

And sure now Sergio comes out
and starts swearing like mad in Italian.

I started crying, crying but crying like
I have never cried in my life.

I quit.

What will my father say when he learns

that I haven't heard the order
from Sergio, "Action".

The Spanish Army captain didn't know
that when you do a shot

you have to say "ready",
get the cameras rolling, the clapperboard,

so when they hear "vai",
he hit the switch.

With the languages mess,

with people speaking in English,
Italian, Spanish, it was a chaos.

He understood some gesture from Sergio,

the camera operator,
Tonino Delli Colli or...

someone that maybe said
"we are ready" and he said "ready".

Now this general or colonel,
I don't know what rank he had.

He said, "In two days we fix the bridge".

We went down to Almería

and we filmed for a week or so,
down there, two weeks,

while they rebuilt the bridge
and we came back and blew it up again.


[motor revving]


-[man] Let's do it.

[García] Sometimes it's frustrating

because you make the call
and maybe eight people show up.

You work hard digging for some hours
and you can't hardly notice it.

Luckily, other times 40 people come
and in two hours we progress a lot.

But it can be frustrating, it feels like
you are never going to finish.

It wasn't clear to me that
we would rebuild the cemetery.

Uncovering the pavement was doable.

But placing the graves
felt more complicated.

I felt overwhelmed.


when you feel unable

to carry out a job of such magnitude,

you have to stop and think:

I can't make it alone.

Then we came up with...

the brilliant idea of sponsoring a grave.

It was just a joke. "Sponsor a grave
and be part of the Sad Hill cemetery."

I proposed it and we laughed about it.

The idea was to set a symbolic price,

as a way to attract people.

We used that money to buy material,

wood and paint to write the name,

raise the cross and remove the grass
that covered the grave.

MARCH 2016

[García] I think it's on the verge of...

bad taste, I'm not sure.

I'm not superstitious but...

Some people say it's a great idea,
other say it's macabre.

No, putting your name
on a grave, I mean,

it's not like it's a real grave.
I mean, it's... Yeah.


I think it's cool, I think it'd be great.

It's very cool to have your name
on a grave, I mean, come on.

If I had known about it,
I'd have my name on a grave.

So who wants to be buried there?

It's gotta be somebody
who loves it so much

they wanna actually
be buried at the cemetery.

It's just a fake cemetery.
I mean, it's just...

It's funny.

[Alba] Here I read Iván López

but you didn't give
the name of the other sponsor.

-Oh, yes. It was Amadeo.
-OK. That one is missing.

And it's time to bring out
infinite lists of sponsors.

-"Have you painted this one?
- No, I already did..."

Very tedious.

[Alba] We didn't take it seriously
at the beginning.

Let's see if we place 10 or 15,

and suddenly there were
not 10 or 15, but 1,000.

[Montero] And the idea is to follow up

to the original
four or five thousand graves.

All these people contributing,

with the same passion and faith
in what we believed in...

That was the key to success.

Go get a square cross.
One with room for two.

Or just one big enough for two names:
Elena and Bolo.

MAY 2016

Seeing the first graves in place

gave us the energy to prepare

the celebration of the 50th anniversary.

We agreed we had to do something,
50 years is a special number.

We were looking forward to it

and we wanted to have
the cemetery ready by then.

We set the date

on the 24th July
for the screening of the film

because it was the closest
to the shooting date 50 years ago.

Let's do it.

Right there.

That's the place.

I am going to fill it with soil on top, so
the feet are cut so it stays above ground.

-It'll be more visible.
-Now? A bit more?

While we filmed
the war scenes in the bridge,

between the North and the South,

at the other side of the mountain
from where the bridge was shot,

they were building the cemetery.

Originally in the script the idea
was a fairly small cemetery.

Then they decided to get
bigger and bigger.


Leone kept saying, "10,000 graves, I'll
have the biggest cemetery of all time."

So they needed help.

And as with the bridge they got
the assistance of the Spanish army.

They took almost all of us
to the cemetery, to make the graves.

It was a box.
Rather four boards with two hangers.

Then we filled it with soil,
squashed it a bit,

raised it, and it was done.

Then someone set the cross
or a stake with a name.

That was the cemetery.

There's a concentration camp,
Betterville Concentration Camp,

reference to the Second World War

and at the battle of the bridge
there's all these trenches

which are completely anachronistic,
but that's the I World War.

So when you get to the cemetery,
it's a war cemetery from the I World War

basically transposed
to the American Civil War.

It's like one of those huge,
very touching

cemeteries you find in Northern France,
of the Battle of the Somme.

Thousands and thousands
of uniform crosses.

What did I feel when I saw the cemetery
finished for the first time?

I was shocked.

I wondered how was it possible

to make such
a beautiful cemetery for fiction.

I had no idea
what the cemetery was gonna look like.

When I got there it was circular
which I thought was rather unique.

Because originally, a cemetery,
you just think of rows of gravestones.

But they had made it a circle
which I thought was very conducive

to the camera angles and the view.

The original plan was always to put
the camera quite a long way away

to get the whole panorama of it.

And get closer and closer
as the duel progressed.

And you juxtapose
these extraordinary, extreme close-ups

with the long shots of the three of them
standing in this arena,

and is like the coliseum,
is like a sword and sandal movie

with gladiators coming into the arena.

The "Arena of Destiny",
Sergio Leone called it.

The original plan was actually
to do an aerial shot in that sequence

and it was going
to be done using a helicopter

but on the day they went to film it
there was too much turbulence

so it never happened.

Simi and his art director Carlo Leva

had a sort of...

They didn't work from storyboards,
Leone never worked from storyboards

but they obviously had a vision
of how it would fit the scope screen.

[Leva] He sent us to see
two or three cemeteries

to understand what they looked like.

And they were built...

"THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY" a perfect geometrical manner.


Also all the tombs were circular.

The director saw it.

"Holy shit, Carleto,
what have you done?", said Sergio.

It was Joseba's stubbornness
to build the perimeter stone wall.

I didn't think it was necessary.

We would have to work
very hard moving stones.

Now I see it and I think, "My God!"

The cemetery wouldn't be
the same without the wall.

Half meter by half meter tall.
Half meter wide by half meter tall.

Then there're four streets 4 meters long.

-Of those 300 meters, 4 by 3, 12.

Make it 15 empty meters.

Plus some more empty meters.

-A lot of trips.

A dozen trips by tractor as well.

-OK, that's alright.

Maybe... Maybe a fence.

[motor revving]

How many could we bring?
7, 8, 10 trailers full of stones?

Each trip was half an hour coming,
and half an hour going, by tractor.

[García] They came, left the stones here,
and once here, picked them up.

And then try to build a perfect circle,

that doesn't always look perfect.

Some stones...

just don't fit each other.

[men speaking indistinctly]

It's satisfactory, seeing the result.

And how it'll look with all the crosses.

The cemetery, let's call it Sergio
Leone's cemetery, as he built it.

I am honoured.

We must thank all these people
that make 50 km, 100 and go there.

It's a true honour.

-Maybe a flatter one? Did we bring one?

This magic piece of film history
is then preserved.

And it's probably started a bit late,
but it wasn't too late.

It's gotta be
human nature you know, that...

you're drawn to something for a reason.

Or something has impacted
you and your life.

And the journey to that place is almost
more important than getting there.

Just the fact that you are on a mission
to do something.

It tells you about that person.

That they're searching
for something they have.

After they shot the battle,
they rebuilt the bridge.

It couldn't bear weight,
but was good enough for the explosion.

-Not well rebuilt.
-Boards blew up.

You can see the rocks falling.

-Yes, you see them.
-Yes, it's true.

You can see the stones
falling next to them.

From the point of view
of the outside world,

he's probably the most famous
Italian film director who's ever lived.

And he's certainly the most influential.

Why don't you people
take Leone more seriously?

You take you know Visconti, Bertolucci,
Pasolini, Fellini, Antonioni...

There's hundreds of books
written about these people.

People say, "You can't take him seriously,
he didn't make movies about Italy."

They can't forgive him that.
The world is changing.

And you've got the rise of Tarantino,

the rise of Rodriguez,
all these new filmmakers

who rated Leone very very highly.

All I can say is he directed
the hell out of those movies

and even today

there's very little, with all our CGI
and all the stuff we have at our command,

there's really very little I think
to match the impact

that picture had on audiences in 1966.

I was reading literature
about Leone's films.

People talk about Leone
being interested in details,

Leone using historical documentation
to set up scenes.

But as a scientist you are interested
in evidence, evidence based things.

Whenever I got a high resolution
behind the scenes still

from the movie, I studied it in detail

and in one particular still I could see
Sergio Leone standing at Sad Hill cemetery

holding something in his hand.
It could have been a book.

When you looked closer
it appeared that he's using

his forefinger as a bookmark.

So I blew up this photo

and, because I looked at hundreds
of Civil War photos in the past,

I recognized that this image was part
of a famous Civil War photo.

Now the next job was to find
a book which has this image on it.

So I went through hundreds of books

that had to be printed before 1966.

And after a long long time,

one day I found this book.

"Gardner's Sketch Book of the War".

You can't be sure which page
Leone had his finger on,

but he certainly was using
Alexander Gardner's book

to set up these dead soldiers
on the battlefield.

For a normal person would be enough
to place the soldiers on their backs,

but Leone's got the book in his hand

and he wants to get it
just as in the photo.

There's a famous critique
of "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"

written by the Italian novelist
Alberto Moravia.

He said the early Italian westerns
were copy of the American westerns.

All about Buffalo Bill
and Billy the Kid and things like that.

And Leone's early films are struggling
to find an Italian idiom,

or a Italian-Spanish idiom,
to tell those old stories.

And with "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"

the "Mediterraneasation"
of the western is complete.

The cemeteries,
the crucifixes, the coffins,

the locations, the sound design,
the music, the costumes...

There's Eastwood
in a high waisted long coat

and a floral shirt.
A floral shirt in the wild west?

You know, looks great.

All of this is very European.
And Moravia says,

"Is it just about a fistful of dollars?
About making money?

Or is there more going on?"

Question mark.

I've spent half of my professional
career persuading the world

there's a great deal more going on.

Leone did few films. I regret that.

He was only 60.

Some of the people who worked with him
in the films, met at his funeral.

We couldn't believe it.

But he liked living,
he liked working, he liked everything.

60 years old.
Today he would be 90 years old,

88 like Morricone.

The day the reconstruction
works began at the cemetery,

October 3, Saturday,

I left Bilbao at 7:40 am.

And I remember, I will not forget,
I said to my father,

"Well, I am going to Sad Hill to dig.
We start today."

My father was very sick,


and I remember
I just said goodbye to him.

"I'll call you on Sunday."

I went to Sad Hill.

OCTOBER 3, 2015

I got there at 10.30 am.

I worked all day.
I met very nice people.

At 7 pm we finished,
and I left for Pinilla.


I had 20 missed calls.


The first day of the reconstruction
of Sad Hill cemetery,

stars aligned again,
this time in a negative way.

My father was gone.

Saying goodbye to my father in Bilbao
to go dig at Sad Hill,

and never seeing him again.

I would have loved to tell him

how I lived that moment.

Making a hope come true.

Making a dream come true.

Well, I decided I would not sponsor
a tomb in my name,

but that my tomb would be
under the name of my father.

He deserves it better than me.

It's a tribute to my best friend,
on top, my father.

[crowd humming "The Memory Remains"]

JULY 2011

[people speaking indistinctly]

JULY 24, 2016

[Simi] I am happy to be here.

I am looking to settle,

to keep to myself everything
that is coming from the outside.


And I am truly surprised to see...

all this people arriving here

as if there was an UFO
about to land any minute.

I imagine
what they would have thought and said.

My father, Sergio, Tonino Delli Colli.

Who knows if they would have imagined

that today all this was going to happen.

[people speaking indistinctly]

Those who had seen the film
many times could perfectly locate

every scene, every shot.

But now everybody can easily recognize

where the movie was shot.

People stand where the actors stood,

and can recognize
every frame and every detail.

[Leigh] Film is a document of a time

and to go along to the location
20, 30, 40 years later to see

the impact of the passing of time
had on that location is fascinating.

It's recovering
a tangible object or a place

you've lived or you've dreamt.

Get it back physically,
suddenly finding it.

And somehow it becomes more real.

That dream, that film you saw,

it wasn't a dream. It did exist.

[Frayling] I think in some ways
people going to visit

the sets and locations of movies they love
is a kind of pilgrimage.

And by actually
walking across the set

you get a sense
of the excitement of the movie,

but also you've touched the sacred place.

[Dante] Well, you have to realise
that for some people

the arts are a religion.
That is their religion.

When I go to the movies
is like I go to Church.

Lights go down
and you're transported somewhere.

And it's very emotional.

[Frayling] People want a sort
of sacred experience with a little less.

And they're not getting it
from the Church,

so they get it from other things.
They get it from art, from film,

they get it from
pilgrimages of this kind.

I did an exhibition in Los Angeles
a few years ago

on Leone at the Gene Autry Museum

and we were very lucky
to get as the key exhibit

the actual poncho that Clint Eastwood
wore in all three films,

there was only one.

The Perspex box had
to be cleaned 8 times a day.

Because everyone wanted to press
their face against this box

to get close to this...

It was like a holy relic.

Like a religious aura around this...

Which is basically
a rather tatty piece of cloth

but it's the sacred piece of cloth.

I understand when a fan comes up to me
and says, "Thank you".

They just say, "Thank you".

And I know instantly,
they don't have to go into explanation.

There's so many stories

that art, music,
touches people's lives

so as fan when they come up and
say "thank you", I know, I get it.

[boy] How does it look?

[boy 2]
I'm a little to the left but it's fine!

That's it!
Let's move on to the last shot!

[boy] Turn a little bit
more this way, this way.

Just show the most
surprised look of the Ugly, OK?

No, not like that, just look at him, OK?


[all speaking indistinctly]

[Alba] We thought the band
should play in the circle.

A band playing Morricone's themes

within the circle at the roman theater
that Leone set up there.

[band playing Morricone's theme]

Leone once said that people
accused him of making melodramas,

that Leone supplied the "drama"
and Morricone supplied the "melo".

And you could almost do away
with dialogue altogether

which you virtually do
in the last 20 minutes

of "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".

It's almost ironic that the Spaghetti
westerns were considered

beneath the traditional
American westerns.

And yet Ennio Morricone's main theme
has become synonymous with the western.

[Dante] It's inconceivable to think

of those movies without Morricone.
And it's also inconceivable

to think of the Italian western genre
without Morricone.

Because there are other good composers,
but they had to adopt that style.

[Frayling] There's no doubt the music
was written in advance

for the last 20 minutes. And they always
wanted from the very beginning

to have a complete fusion of music
and image rather like a rock video.

The main themes
were recorded in advance.

"The Ecstasy of Gold"
was recorded in advance, as others.

When you film a movie and you already know
the music behind it,

the actors work already
thinking of that music.

[Morricone] Because he found the rhythm
listening to the music.

The camera moved

according to the music.


[Alba] One of the colleagues
has a theatrical group

and came up with the idea
of representing the duel scene

at the original location.

It's a dream come true, imagine it,
as the date came closer,

we had spoken
about doing the duel sequence.

It would be cool
if people came to see it.

I imagined it like that,
with all the people around the cemetery.

You could see the place was packed.

Starts off with a Spanish guitar
held very close to the microphone

where you get this extraordinarily
loud Spanish guitar.

And then from the Spanish guitar
building up to this mariachi trumpet

that is absolutely glorious.

Which is like bullfight music.
[humming a tune]

I can't get it in this moment.

[humming a tune]

No, actually no, I've got the wrong one.

I didn't want to include the trumpet,

it was the third film
where I used it with Leone,

so it troubled me a lot.

But he insisted so I included it,

but very different
from the previous movies.


Someone once said
that Leone's films are like operas

in which the arias aren't sung,
they're stared.

[cheering and applauses]

[García] I've never acted
for so many people,

and I don't think I'll do it again.

It lasted less than 10 minutes,
but the greatest 10 minutes of my life.

[chatting indistinctly]

The great Eugenio Alabiso,
the film editor

and true connoisseur of Sergio Leone.

[man] It is an honor to have these people
with us who are coming from Italy,

50 years later.

[Del Valle] Someone like me,

making these people happy,

people like Alabiso,
the editor of the film.

The honor is mine,
of being here with you.

Thank you.

[cheering and applauses]

[Alba] 4,000 people excited
to share with you that day

I think we were all about to cry.

[chatting indistinctly]

When we were ready,

we had to introduce

the film
and some surprise messages before.

Sergio was speaking
and we were saying, "Jesus, man, shut up".

Well, OK, video in.

[cheering and applauses]

I regret not seeing you,
not going to Spain, Burgos.

To meet all the people who loved
Sergio's film

after 50 years.

This film that still resists
the passing of time

and it's a glorious achievement
for Sergio, and therefore very important.

[Del Valle]
Seeing Morricone speaking about

the people from Burgos
who rebuilt the cemetery.

It's huge, I can't express it with words.
It's overwhelming.

Hello, fans of Sergio,

Ennio and Metallica possibly,

and obviously
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".

Celebrating the 50 years that this film

has been around and all the hard work

that everyone's done here
to rebuild the cemetery.

I've been listening
to Metallica since I was a kid,

and see him supporting
something that you have done...

I think that's astonishing.

[Hetfield] I share the love
and the passion of this movie

and the music,
and how it's helped shape my life

with you guys there.

So thank you for doing
what you are doing there

and I am there in spirit. Thank you!

[Alba] Hetfield was
the epitome of that day.

No need to think more.
We have managed

to have Morricone speaking about us,
and Hetfield sending us such a message

in front of everyone
who had come to see the film.

What else can we ask
to close the 50th anniversary?

They misled us like kids, because
we knew about Morricone's message,

about Hetfield's message.

What happened?

Look what happened!

When we thought that was all...

Someone appears...

God appears.

It gives me goosebumps

when I remember that moment.

I thought it was just a picture because...

Honestly, I didn't understand.
I just saw Clint Eastwood,

Román was screaming,
Joseba was jumping.

It's an amazing project

that I forgotten all
about it myself, but...

I remember...

being there in Northern Spain.

We were both there
in the north of Spain, in Burgos,

and the vicinity Covarrubias

and then we went down in Almería.

I don't understand what he says,
I only see his face.

I was stunned.

It's hard to realise
that he was actually addressing us.

But when I saw that he started
speaking about Burgos, Covarrubias,

the cemetery.
He'd seen images of it.

I think it's a great idea

unearth the cemetery.

I've seen some of the pictures of the job

they did and it's quite great.

He is looking at our faces.

Patting our backs for what we've done.

I didn't know what happened until later,

catching up
with my colleagues and, dammit,

they managed to get Clint Eastwood
here speaking about the Association.

I'd like to thank everybody

and I hope you have good luck
with the cemetery,

with the history of it all.

It was a great experience
to be there and...


I admire you
for having that kind of interest.

Thank you.

[Del Valle] Clint sent us a message.

After so many years,
and so many hopes and dreams

that become real at that moment.

You can see them smiling,
but Clint Eastwood smiling

and commenting the work
we have done recovering Sad Hill...

We knew Clint Eastwood
wouldn't come,

but seeing him on the screen
supporting us...

The message has arrived. The message
has arrived and we treasure it,

and it's the prize to all the effort done.

It's clear that...

when you fight for something

whatever it is, you get it.

[boy] There was a moment...
We walked around for a few minutes.

We only had time to walk around
for a couple of minutes at the end.


All of the sudden Devan hugs me.

Hey, we did it man. Hug, hug.

And it suddenly hits me...

just how much
a piece of art can mean to me.

And how grateful I am
to have friends who...

will go to these places and make art
and take in art with me and...

and just how much these things
can have repercussions on my life

and affect me, and...

how it's inspired me
over the years to be...


Film on, this magic cannot stop now.
Film on.

[Alba] I believe
that when you get older,

you don't enjoy things as much
as you did when you were a kid.

We went all back to our childhood.

That day were not adults watching a movie,
we were kids enjoying the moment.


50TH ANNIVERSARY 1966-2016


[Montero] The landscape has been
nicely preserved until now.

And it should not be turned
into a theme park or...

that people stop taking care of it

and end up spoiling it.

[García] We can't commercialise Sad Hill
nor become...

overcrowded because, otherwise,

we would spoil the beauty of the place.

But it is a resource that was not
available until now, a cinema resource.

And we must promote it.

[Montero] I would be satisfied
if it doesn't become overcrowded.

That it becomes
a cult place for film fans.

Also for tourists
who would like to visit it

or walk around, but not overcrowded.

I think it would be perfect to bring

another movie shooting
to the Arlanza Valley.

It would be very nice.

I am confident now, I have the right
to believe and be positive until the end.

I think it will happen.

It's funny, you know, like you...

You see it
and it is like you're looking at a myth.

And you walk into it
and it feels like you're part of it,

it's real, right, it's alive.

And then you walk away
a little bit from it, and you...

look at it now and it already...

already feels
like is receding back into myth.

It's something else.

Something you can't touch.

It's a really strange piece of minimalist
music. It's four notes basically.

That's it!

I understood
it was a key scene of the film,

very intense.

It was a scene basically abstract,
without sound, only the music.

And that it had to have a circular flavor.

You start off from the piano,
you build up with a human choir

and then the soaring soprano voice
of Edda dell'Orso

repeated over and over again.

Like serial music,
like minimalist music in a way.

Because Tuco was running around
looking for a tomb that he couldn't find.

So it was dramatic and comic
at the same time.

Ennio said something to me
that I will not forget,

"It's the most
beautiful marriage that exists

between scenography,
image and music."

Whenever I hear that song

I start to get nervous,
because it has been our intro tape for...

30 plus years.

[footsteps on sand]

JULY 2011

[crowd cheering]

["The Ecstasy of Gold"]

It's hair raising for us as a band.

You know we do our little circle
and just talk.

But as soon as the first notes...

[humming a tune]

When that starts,
the show has started.

Every sense is heightened.

The heart is going.

My body knows what's coming.

Here comes...
Here comes life, intense life.

I mean, yeah, it's happening.

["The Ecstasy of Gold" continues]

[crowd singing along
"The Ecstasy of Gold"]

[Hetfield] Hearing the crowd
sing along the intro tape,

all the nerves just go away.

Everyone is here for the same,
for the same idea.

For the same feeling.
For the same result.

So when the crowd is singing,
I know it's gonna be great.

[crowd cheering]

[Hetfield] And then the storm.

["Creeping Death" by Metallica]