The unclear and complicate twists between governal powers, independentist party and Mafia in the Sicily of the '40s culminate with the death of Salvatore Giuliano.



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Complete credited cast:
Salvo Randone ...
President of Viterbo Assize Court
Frank Wolff ...
Gaspare Pisciotta


In 1950, 28-year-old outlaw Salvatore Giuliano is found gunned down in a Sicilian courtyard. Little is as it seems. The film moves back and forth between the late 1940s, when Giuliano and other reprobates were recruited by separatist politicians to do their fighting, and the days leading up to and following Giuliano's death. After Sicily's self-rule is declared, will the outlaws be pardoned as promised? And why does Giuliano order his gang to fire on a peaceful May Day rally? Police, Carabinieri, and Mafia have their uses for him. There's a trial after his death: will the truth come out or does the code of silence help protect those in power? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 February 1962 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Banditten Salvatore  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of the ten movies that was on Martin Scorsese's Sight and Sound 2012 Poll.. See more »


During the Portella della Ginestre sequence, a member of the Communist Party gives a speech. In reality the shooting in the massacre began before anyone had a chance to speak to deliberately stop the speech starting. See more »


Referenced in Baarìa (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Dishonest, disappointing and, what's worse, dull
19 September 2005 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Salvatore Guiliano feels like a missed opportunity at every turn and little more than an exercise in film form masturbation from Francesco Rosi. Salvatore Giuliano is a fascinating figure in Sicilian history and folklore, an extraordinarily successful bandit who briefly became the only competent military leader in the Sicilian Separatist movement only to be betrayed by politicians and the Mafia and killed under mysterious circumstances: as with all the key events in Giuliano's life, there are at least three different versions of how he met his end depending on what your stance is. That's always the major problem when dealing with Giuliano as a historical figure - people project onto him what they want to see to fit their own interpretation, and Rosi is certainly guilty of the same crime. Despite his shooting on the actual locations, he ignores and simplifies too much too often (for example, the Americans never really supported the Separatist movement due to their links with the British, choosing to place their trust in the Mafia instead, while the Mafia's importance in Giuliano's story is exaggerated: Rosi suggests he worked for them when in fact they acted more as go-betweens) and often makes deliberate changes to the known facts. While its perhaps acceptable dramatic license to add a Communist speech in the prelude to the Portella della Ginestre massacre sequence for context (even though the shooting began to stop the speech starting), his minor changes to details like the death of Gaspare Pisciotta seem especially perverse in a film that boasts of its documentary credentials and claims to stick only to verifiable facts. In fact, at every turn, this film shows considerably LESS than was known at the time.

Giuliano's extraordinary success was largely down to a number of historical factors – the resentment Sicilians felt to Italians and the central government in Rome; the comparative weakness of Mafia, who, suppressed by Mussolini and newly restored by the Americans (who deemed them a legitimate anti-Fascist resistance movement!), were then in a period of transition and, unable to control local bandits, took advantage of them by acting as intermediaries and sources of information for their kidnappings; the fact that the army and police each wanted the glory of his capture or killing and would actively undermine each others efforts (this internecine feuding extended within both groups: one police chief even murdered a rival's informant); Giuliano paying well the locals well over the odds for supplies to make it in their interest not to betray him; Giuliano's willingness to kill childhood friends and threaten family members; and most importantly, his tendency to change sides to any non-communist group that might promise a pardon. Unfortunately, none of that is to be found in the film. Indeed, going into it blind, you'd be hard put to understand why Giuliano is such a local legend. Rosi marginalizes him at every turn, dramatizes minor incidents and spends half the movie on the trial of Pisciotta and various survivors of Giuliano's band. These scenes do at least capture the chaos and some of the revelations and allegations of political duplicity, but again Rosi seems more interested in deliberately showing how little he knows rather than attempting to find an ordered argument in it all. Ultimately it all comes down to "Well, I can't make head nor tail of it, but it stinks a bit to me."

Sadly Peter Cowie's audio commentary on the Criterion DVD is quite poor – he tends to amplify rather than correct Rosi's errors and frequently resorts to bizarre metaphors ("like leopards they just changed their spots" – huh?). He's good on Rosi and his brand of political cinema, but poor on Giuliano – much like the film itself. Despite a few good scenes (the mass arrest of the male population of Montelepre, the immediate aftermath of Giuliano's death), it almost seems as if the contradictions in Giuliano's story dictate it should best be told by an outsider with no political axe to grind. Sadly, this is no Battle of Algiers.

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