By Miguel Martin Alonso
Almeria, Spain, Jul 2 (EFE).- As the tumbleweed roll across the landscape in the imagination of the visitor, the people in charge of Western Leone hang up a Wanted sign.
On this occasion, however, the object of the search is not a cattle-rustler or armed robber, but a buyer for the mock town erected in the Tabernas desert of Spain’s southeastern province of Almeria for Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West.”
Not far from Western Leone is the set where the Italian director filmed the Dollars Trilogy: “A Fistful of Dollars,” “For a Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” which made Clint Eastwood an international star.
That location has been transformed into a theme park, Oasys MiniHollywood, with other attractions alongside the Old West elements.
Nearly six decades after Leone (1929-1989) and a cast featuring Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson made “Once Upon a Time in the West” in the mythical town of Flagstone, Western Leone remains intact and is still open for visitors on weekends.
The current owners have decided to sell “only and exclusively” because they are retiring, according to Jose Ruda, manager of the firm handling the sale, Grupo Rukasa.
“Anyone can buy it, but we are looking for someone to preserve to the smallest detail these 40 years of history, this bit of the history of Tabernas, of Almeria, where the Spaghetti Western was born,” he told Efe.
The town continued to be used a set for films, television commercials and even music videos, such as the clip for Mika’s “Boum Boum Boum.”
The site is complete, with “all of the constructed scenery, from the Western town to the Indian town passing through the Mexican town, the restaurant,” Ruda said.
“It has everything to begin functioning from minute zero, with eight hectares (nearly 17 acres) out front that can be developed with decoration, a film school or recording studios,” he added.
The current buyers want to ensure that whoever buys the site “keeps it the same, with the same affection, effort, work and sacrifice,” Ruda said. “Many times it’s not about the economic value, but the sentimental value – the memories and history of this Sergio Leone town.”
Prospective buyers are entertained in the home of Brett McBain, the widowed farmer whose new bride (Cardinale) arrives to find him and his three children slain.
“In a few months we have received quite a few interested people, mainly from Germany, the Netherlands, England and Italy,” Ruda confided to Efe.