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El Descriptor

Sepia toned photograph of a rough wooden cross inscribed with the name 'J. Hunt, El Descriptor'.

In February 2018 I was tasked with writing the Audio Description for all three movies in Sergio Leone’s epic Spaghetti Western “Man With No Name” trilogy. Three hundred and ninety-two minutes of Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. And the producer needed them fast.

I was excited to be working on these iconic and important movies, but they were huge films with lots of description challenges. Long run times, long silences, gun fights where every bullet counts. I slogged through the films scene by scene, researching as I went, and managed to submit each script on time. If Audio Description can ever be described as ‘gruelling’, this felt like it.

While doing my research, I became quite taken with some of the sets and locations. The final location from Good, Bad, and Ugly was particularly intriguing. This is the famous scene in which Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach stare each other down in a three man standoff at the heart of Sad Hill Cemetery.

I learned that Sad Hill was in fact a massive outdoor set in Spain, not an actual cemetery. After shooting wrapped, the filmmakers just walked away, leaving the wooden signs and grave markers to crumble. Dozens of fans made a pilgrimage to the site every year, hoping to explore the thousands of grave markers encircling the site of the iconic shootout, only to find decaying remains of the grown-over set.

In 2015, a few of those fans had an idea. They began clearing away the brush, and digging up the signs, gravestones, and wooden crosses that remained after 50 years of neglect. But they needed money. To support their project, they started selling grave makers. Send them a few Euros and they’d put your name on a wooden cross, plant it in the ground, and make you part of film history.

Today, if you visit Sad Hill Cemetery in northern Spain, you’ll find one fake gravesite, marked by a wooden cross, with a link to Audio Description. The black, hand-painted letters on the rough wooden planks read: “J. Hunt — El Descriptor”.