In a heart attack inducing climax in Sergio Leone’s Western, “The good, the bad and the ugly”, the films protagonists find themselves in a three way shoot out at a cemetery, the outcome of a search for buried Union Army gold. Each had something to lose, and each has no idea how and when the other party will react. They are at odds. What I find most interesting is how the director chooses to focus on the actors faces, showing (as films do well) rather than tell us that the stakes are high.
The eyes, darting back and forth between each assailant and juxtaposed cuts of each character as they size up the competition.
The music continues to swell, the stakes are clearly high. The tension increases even more. These men do not trust each other, and they know what is at stake.
The camera darts between the characters some more before we catch a glimpse of a hand crawling toward a revolver still nestled in its holster at the hip. The brass instruments are at this point belting out screams. Cuts back and forth between the faces, the eyes, the hands reaching for their revolvers, the eyes, the faces, the eyes, the revolvers, the faces, the eyes and then suddenly…BANG! Resolution
(I would watch this film if for no other reason just to get to this point. Watch the clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PgAKzmWmuk)
As I went through the reading on sustainable development, I could not help but think about this scene. The three characters are rather illustrative of the priorities of Sustainable development: Equity, The Environment and The Economy. These three are engaged in a somewhat similar three-way conflict. Each pushes for its best interests, and in interacting with the other finds itself in a conflict due to the goals it is seeking. Goals that are not in their own way ‘bad’ but may be antagonistic to the other pillar. The Conflicts of property, resource and development are the descriptions given to these antagonisms.
The escalation of the tension in the film is in some way the feeling I got as I studied the conflicts. It is this and not the resolution of the scene that I am focused on in use of the scene from the film. Besides, the film would really disappoint if after all that build up, the camera cut to an urban planner who proceeds to moderate a truce between Tuco, Angel Eyes and Blondie.
Sustainable development is rooted in the idea that these three axes cannot do without each other. They must instead work with each other to deliver and outcome that considers, as much as, possible each parties concern. This working together demands the resolution of conflicts through interactions and participations where the goals from each axis are floated and a mutually respected balance is established.
During the previous class, an interesting question was brought up; “What can planning really claim to be its own if all it does is borrow from other established disciplines and realms of theory?”
My response would be, (in keeping with concept of sustainable development) the strength in planning lies in its ability and agency to understand various approaches [Economy, Ecology and Social Justice] their agendas and motivations, and bringing them together; moderating a conversation amongst them and promoting an ideal of development that is emblematic of balance. Planning recognizes the need for professional allegiances in a way that others may not. And this is core to how planning functions and its necessity to the world.