It is debated by many whether this or The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly should be considered Leone’s masterpiece. That all comes down to preference, because they are both masterpieces.
The opening scene is long, and brilliant, but after that there’s some time where it’s too slow and even a bit melodramatic. Fortunately, once it gets going, it’s pretty fantastic. More of the typical Leone artistry.
It’s long and epic, with multiple stories which interweave nicely. Yet, the visuals and score are where it’s really at. With so many absolutely stunning shots, and Morricone up to his old tricks, I could probably watch the movie without the dialogue track and be just fine (also, Claudia Cardinale doesn’t hurt in that regard).
Just Kurosawa and Leone are more than enough reason to be glad I did this!
Here is six minutes from the opening sequence.