Western, which was contemporary with the invention of film, was always more a matter of the “East” than of the “West”, and prone to irony. As Bazin points out, western essentially has a universal message that reaches a broad audience: through a cultural and partly a historical analysis, this paper tries to show that an important element of this message is to be found in the idea of moral perfectionism. However, since moral perfectionism is based on the ethics of “self-reliance” and the idea of expanding one’s self without any pre-fixed goals, it is as such transgressive. The paper thus tries to show that some of the final and thus ironical consequences of this ethical idea can be examined through the follow-up genre of spaghetti westerns, which negate the myth of perfectionism by substituting the quest for a deeper self with a gold hunt and guns. Special attention is paid to My Name is Nobody (1973), the last western that Leone produced, which is also seen as a materialization of the sceptic’s wish to transcend the contingency of life.
The integral (Slovenian) version of this article can be found in the printed KINO!