I've seen numerous films being described as a Spaghetti Western. What exactly makes a film a Spaghetti Western?

  • It's also worth mentioning that while many of the were produced and directed by Italians, they were also shot and produced in Italy and Spain. The actual location of the stories might be in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Mexico, etc, which has similar landscapes to the mountains of Italy and Spain. Aug 7, 2013 at 22:20

1 Answer 1


The short answer, quoted from Wikipedia, is as follows

Spaghetti Western, also known as Italian Western, is a broad sub-genre of Western films that emerged in the mid-1960s in the wake of Sergio Leone's film-making style and international box-office success. The term was used by critics in USA and other countries because most of these Westerns were produced and directed by Italians. According to actor Aldo Sambrell, the phrase 'Spaghetti Western' was coined by Italian journalist Alfonso Sancha. In the beginning the term was used in a derogatory sense, but over time it has become accepted as descriptive.

The typical Spaghetti Western team was made up of an Italian director, Italo-Spanish technical staff, and a cast of Italian, Spanish, German and American actors, sometimes a fading Hollywood star and sometimes a rising one like the young Clint Eastwood in three of Sergio Leone's films.

If you would like to read more about it, FlavorWire posted an article called 'A Beginners Guide to Spaghetti Westerns'.

So, what makes a "Western" a "Spaghetti Western" then?

There is an article at spaghetti-western.net that does a fairly good job at describing the differences, but, to sum it up; Spaghetti Westerns are more violent, action-oriented and sparse in dialogue, and the "hero" is more often than not just less evil than the rest.

  • 2
    Good reference with the Flavorware site. Reading there, I was surprised to see Django Unchained listed as a Spaghetti Western. Aug 7, 2013 at 11:13
  • 1
    While this answer is exact and to the point regarding the original term, the much more interesting question would be what actually defines a Spaghetti Western in terms of style and plot, since there are some specific traits associated with Spaghetti Westerns which differentiate them from the classic US Westerns of the 50s and 60s, apart from them merely being produced in Europe rather than the US.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Aug 7, 2013 at 11:15
  • 1
    @Nobby I only heard him call it just a "Southern".
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Aug 7, 2013 at 12:50
  • 3
    If you watch an American Western from the same time period. The differences are extreme. A hero with a white hat, shiny gun that talks like a cowboy. Spaghetti's might be the introduction of the anti-hero. A hero who doesn't live up to the American dream of freedom, justice and the American way.
    – Reactgular
    Aug 7, 2013 at 16:34
  • 2
    @MathewFoscarini In the end it's like a pragmatic European view of what a Western is. Thus, a Western reduced to its violent essence without all the emotional American ideals of freedom, pusuit of a better future, discovery of the west, and all that.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Aug 8, 2013 at 8:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .