6

In Sergio Leone's For a Few Dollars More, is Colonel Douglas Mortimer (Lee Van Cleef's character) the brother of the girl killed by El Indio, or is he her dad, and the girl was in love with her brother (incestuous, and the guy shot is also his son). I always assumed the former, but was recently told about the latter possibility and now I have a lot of doubts about the end.

At the end he says "between brother and sister", which isn't ambiguous maybe, but in Italian he says "happens between brother and sister" (= succede tra fratello e sorella).

4

Mortimer is her brother. As stated in the plot summary on Wikipedia:

While murdering the family of the man who captured him, Indio carries a musical pocketwatch that was a memento of his youth, using it to time the duel. Flashbacks reveal that he had taken the watch from a young woman (Rosemary Dexter), who had shot herself as he was raping her after having murdered her husband. The incident has haunted Indio, and he smokes an addictive drug to cloud his memory.

[...]

Mortimer takes Indio's watch and Manco remarks on Mortimer's resemblance to the woman in the photographs. Mortimer reveals himself as her brother

According to IMDb, this is the dialogue:

[Mortimer has just recovered the watch from Indio, which contains a picture of the woman that Indio raped]

Monco: [peers at the picture] There seems to be a family resemblance.

[He hands Mortimer the similar watch with the same picture he had taken earlier]

Monco: Here.

Col. Douglas Mortimer: [pause, then] Naturally, between brother and sister.

According to Howard Hughes's Once Upon a Time in the Italian West: The Filmgoers’ Guide to Spaghetti Westerns:

After Indio’s death, the dialogue between Mortimer and Manco explains the revenge motive, reinforced by Morricone’s subtle underscoring. Manco looks at the picture in the watch and notes a family resemblance. ‘Naturally,’ answers Mortimer, ‘Between brother and sister.’ Manco says that they have become rich, but for Mortimer revenge is enough. Mortimer listens to the chimes, while Morricone’s ‘Goodbye Colonel’ accompanies the scene, again incorporating the carillon, but now with lush strings and chorus. His sister avenged, Mortimer is content and rides into the sunset.

  • Would be interesting, though, what the Wikipedia article bases its summary on. Is it just the same piece of dialogue that the question cites already? Not saying the other interpretation makes too much sense, but maybe we can do a little better than just point at some random plot summary, at least maybe take the film itself for reference? – Napoleon Wilson Nov 27 '18 at 9:37
  • 1
    @NapoleonWilson What else would their relationship be? It's a revenge story, and at the end we learn his motive (which is linked to the watch), just like at the end of "Once Upon a Time in the West" we learn Harmonica's motive (which is linked to his harmonica). The movie doesn't explicitly reveal everything, we're supposed to join the dots as viewers. – BCdotWEB Nov 27 '18 at 9:45
  • I'm not asking what else it could be, I'm asking to give more than some random summary. But you ultimately did, so thank you for that. In fact it seems just quoting the full dialogue where the "between brother and sister" was directly referencing the "family resemblence" (between Mortimer and the girl) would already have done a great deal. – Napoleon Wilson Nov 27 '18 at 10:02
-1

Another perspective: Indio was the young woman's pathologically possessive and dangerously jealous brother.

In the flashback, he had shot a young Douglas Mortimer who was the lover or husband of Indio's sister. Mortimer miraculously survived Indio's attempted murder. In the disturbing rape scene, Indio's innocent sister and moral opposite could not bring herself to shoot her abusing brother. So, rather than having to live through the trauma of losing her lover, being dehumanised by an incestuous rape thus scarred for life, she shot herself.

When the man with no name asked Colonel Mortimer if he were ever young, he cryptically spoke of something that had happened which made life very precious to him. That was falling in love with Indio's sister. After surviving Indio's bullets and finding out what had happened, he was obviously on his trail but was thwarted by Indio ending up in prison. When Indio had escaped from prison and 'no name' & Colonel Mortimer saw the 'wanted' poster, the former was looking at the $10 000 reward money while the latter was alerted that Indio was at large thus reviving the trail.

In the memorable closing scenes, Indio was shocked to hear Douglas Mortimer revealing who he was and surviving the bullets he had riddled him with in that disturbing flashback. In the powerful scene when Colonel Mortimer shot Indio in the duel, he symbolically reclaimed the watch he had gifted the girl from Indio's corpse.

New contributor
Steven A is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
-2

I disagree. The young man killed by Indio was Colonel Mortimer's son. At the end of the movie he said "my boy" to Manco played by actor Clint Eastwood. The girl was Indio's sister and she killed herself for fear of becoming pregnant from an incestuous relationship.

  • 1
    Can you provide any further evidence for this theory? – F1Krazy Jun 18 at 16:43
  • When Clint Eastwood said that there was a family resemblance, Colonel Mortimer did not say that it was his sister. – Eric Kench Jun 19 at 18:34

You must log in to answer this question.

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