The members of Metallica have voiced their opinions on cinema on multiple occasions, especially Kirk Hammett who has developed a reputation for being an expert when it comes to horror films – both the popular classics as well as the cult works. As for Metallica frontman James Hetfield, his favourite film belongs to a different genre altogether.
When Metallica members were invited to be Artists In Residence at the Mill Valley Film Festival, they were each given the opportunity to conduct a screening. While Hammett went with the 1971 gem Dracula Vs. Frankenstein, Hetfield decided to screen an indispensable classic from the rich world of westerns.
He selected Sergio Leone’s 1966 masterpiece The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, an essential spaghetti western which shaped the genre in more ways than one. Leone’s work is still studied by film students as well as scholars for the unique vision of violence he presented, beautifully supplemented by Ennio Morricone’s sublime score.
“I don’t remember the first time I saw it,” Hetfield said during the screening of the film while talking about the impact it had on him. “I became a Clint Eastwood fan early on in my life, and it’s one of those films that… [Clint’s character was] one of the early mentors on screen that I kind of wanted to emulate… the tough, cool, quiet guy.”
According to Hetfield, he experience the breathtaking film on multiple occasions and he always had different interpretations. The rich philosophical framework created by Leone enabled Hetfield to connect to each element of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly which is why he admires the masterpiece so much.
“I actually identified with each person in the movie — the ugly one, the good and the bad,” Hetfield added, explaining his connection to Leone’s spaghetti western and its themes. “Without getting too deep, but, yeah, metaphorically, we all have that in us, we all have the potential to be each one of those.”
Although Hetfield liked all the characters in the film, he thought Clint Eastwood was the greatest: “What I liked about the movie, for me, was that each one of [the characters] had their own survival technique — how they navigated the desert, the war, just struggling through life… they all had their own way of doing their thing. And, you know, Clint was the coolest.”