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In a traditional Western one instantly knows who the good and who the bad
guys are, and - of course - we also know who will triumph at the end (the
good guys, of course). In a typical Italian Western we still know
instantly who's going to win at the end, just the distinction between good
guys and bad guys is rather blurred.
Il Grande Silenzio is not a typical Italian Western. We know instantly that
e.g. Klaus Kinski is one of the bad guys (frankly, we know that before the
film starts but that's beside the point), but the final outcome is much
less predictable, and if you tried to predict it the actual ending may come
as a huge shock.
The title of the film is ambiguous, both referring to the grandiosity of the character played by Jean-Louis Trintignant (called 'silence' since he's mute) and the silence of the winter landscape in which the film is set and the silence of the death.
Yes, the silence of death: the German title of the film ('Leichen pflastern seinen Weg', translation: 'his path is paved with corpses') is also ambiguous, since 'his' could equally apply to both main characters. However, the violence is never gratuitous, it is bleak: most of the victims have faces and a story behind them. Il Grande Silenzio is surprisingly little known but highly regarded amongst genre lovers (including me). As in so many Italian Western, Ennio Morricone's score is a great asset, perfectly assessing and supporting the general mood. This is easily one of the five finest Italian Western ever made, and I'd feel hard pressed to name more than 2 of the others.
"That western in the snow" - was my brother's response when he heard that
I'd finally tracked down a copy of THE GREAT SILENCE, a.k.a. THE BIG
(I first saw it 10 years ago on BBC2's 'Moviedrome').
If you like Sergio Leone's films (such as THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY and A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS) then you'll probably enjoy this film by Sergio Corbucci. Violence, shooting, cussing, strange costumes, haunting music, trademark camera angles and the Italian style go to make up one of the best (lost)westerns I've ever seen.
These films aren't to everyone's taste, but THE GREAT SILENCE is worth watching just to hear the main theme tune which is a fantastic work of latterday composition - it sounds daft but I nearly cry when I hear it sometimes. By turns the score is dream-like, stylish, menacing, bizarre and even ridiculous (twanging sitar-like sounds). This is my favourite piece of Ennio Morricone's music.
As I said before the main reference points for this film are those of Sergio Leone, except for the snow-laden setting and the distinct lack of humour( THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY still makes me laugh, despite countless watching). Having said that this film has a distinctly original atmosphere of it's own, brought out in the brilliant and shocking ending. the director went to great lengths to preserve his radical finale (particularly unpopular with the producer) - there is a version of the film with a cop-out ending.
In short then, this is a great movie despite all the shortcomings of the particular genre( I'm not saying anything)- I once read that the term "Spaghetti Western" was a derisory one used by American film critics - but I can't think of any American westerns as enjoyable as some of these Italian films.
This is among the very few films that make you truly disgusted by its
violence; not because of the amount of blood as in many other films but
because the victims of the bounty hunters are human beings, slaughtered
brutally in front of their own family members. Corbucci has disguised this
film as a piece of popular cinema, but gives us shocks once in a while,
finally surprises us completely in the unexpected end. This is how he
his anti-violent message very clear, and it is easy to agree with
IL GRANDE SILENZIO is more pessimistic but also more human than any western by Leone or Peckinpah. It may not be a pleasant experience, but if you want to see a masterpiece of cinema instead of a traditional western, it is definitely worth waiting in line for.
Without a doubt, one of the most overlooked films of all time. Watching THE
GREAT SILENCE today, many of today's viewers may find some "cliche'd"
scenes, along with some distracting dubbing. But this flick packs much more
than one can bargain for.
-Plot: Bounty Hunters are collecting paychecks by snabbing up bandits in late 1880's Utah. A master gunfighter, "Silence", is out to collect dollars by killing those same bounty hunters who prey on the helpless marauders. "But who are the REAL bad guys?" is a question that carries throughout the entire film. As I mentioned before, there may be some moments in this film that seem dated and familiar, but let's focus on the un-familiar.."Silence" is mute, his throat slashed by bounty killers. Not only that, but he ALWAYS draws his gun in self-defense..Never draws first. And instead of arming himself with the traditional .38, "Silence" packs a Mauser C-96 (aka "Broomhandle") drawing fear into those who stand in his way. What else? Well, since Capt. Kirk brought forth headlines by kissing Lt. Uhura on STAR TREK, director Sergio Corbucci goes all out for a full interracial love scene (Unthinkable at the time) . What else?? This bad-boy takes place in the cold, desolated snow-bound hills, where a lot of violent stuff just seems to always happen..In fact, the blood-red violence appears much more graphic than ever in the white-frozen snow. And of course, there's the much-talked-about ending that is bound to slap EVERYONE in the face.
Here, Klaus Kinski proves that he was one of the most intense actors ever to appear in the 20th century. Just watch his movements/expressions during the last climactic scenes. Oh yeah, Ennio Morricone's incredible music is presented through-out. Want more? Please watch this film...If you can get a hold of it!
Twenty five years before Clint Eastwood made his departure from the
western genre with his violent, cynical epic "Unforgiven", Sergio
Corbucci had already treated us with one of the most dark and
unforgiving tales of vengeance violence and that has ever graced the
western screen. A forgotten classic that deserves recognition "The
Great Silence" is Corbucci's definitive movie, powerful to the point of
sadness. It can and it will shock it's viewer, with it's unforgiving
nature, and themes.
Set around the snowy landscapes of Utah, "The Great Silence" stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as Silence, a mute gunfighter assisting a group outlaws for and a woman trying to avenge her dead husband. They are faced against a group of bounty hunters, led by Loco (Klaus Kinsky) a ruthless and merciless man who values only the money he gains from the killing.
Corbucci utilizes the snow-filled landscape to the maximum, creating a hauntingly chilling atmosphere that sticks with you from the beginning to the end and most likely, long after you've watched the film. The opening shot demonstrates perfectly the technique employed by Corbucci, with a long shot of Silence as he rides thru the desert of snow, there are no other environmental elements, just him riding calmly forwards accompanied only by a chilling tune from Morricone. This entire moment creates a image so strong so hypnotizing that I found myself re-watching it again and again. It is these moments that make "The Great Silence" great, experiencing the silence before the gunshot and the silence after it, the moments of reckoning, the moments that decide the fates of human beings. I emphasize on "human beings" because the characters here are not only likable but believable and they very much feel like real people, the kind you might like or despise or love or hate. It's not about Silence's skills as a gunfighter, but the human aspect bellow, that is what makes him feel real. None of this would have succeed had it not been for the brilliant acting of the entire cast. Trintignant and Kinsky make the biggest impression though, adding layers of depth to their respective characters without even uttering a word, just their facial expressions, the way the move, the confidence with which they act it is simply brilliant.
Commenting on the final scene would be a downright shame to those who haven't seen the movie just yet. But it is one of the most memorable, no not only memorable it is one of the greatest endings ever shot, with one of the best uses of slow-motion I have ever seen. Slow-motion that captures the darkest, saddest moment, the one thing no one would expect to happen in a western. This further helps to strengthen the major anti-violence theme as the credits begin to roll and the viewer is left to cope with the unexpected finale.
Ennio Morricone serves one of his best scores. I would easily rank this amongst "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" in terms of quality. But it is by no means similar to it. No. We are not soothed by the comfortable music heard in his collaborations with Leone. This score is, haunting and sad, like the movie itself it has an emotional effect on the viewer.
"The Great Silence" is as every bit as good as any of Leone's films. But is also as every bit as different from them. A uniquely dark voyage into the brutal reality of human nature, concealed as a western. Sergio Corbucci died in 1990, his movies weren't remembered by many, but those that did will never forget "The Great Silence".
The spaghetti western is a hybrid creature in many ways. it mixes the
great American legend by demystifying it with European pessimism. It
plays the landscapes and its inhabitants as ambiguous vehicles of
destiny and violence (the background often conveys the mood more than
the characters, as the films of Corbucci and Leone demonstrate). And
although Fistfull of Dollars is mean and lean, it remains a pale copy
of Kuroswa's superior Yojimbo. Despite it's beautiful opera, Once upon
a Time in the West is too elegant. despite its biting humor and epic
scope, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly is too playful...
What we have here, is nothing less than the ultimate essence of the Spaghetti Western: irony, cruelty, tenderness, beauty, violence, larger than life characters... and chaos. the chaos is as present in the general mood as it is in Corbucci's wild and messy camera-work (from beautiful panoramas to crash zooms and close ups that accentuate the villains' ugliness).
The story is straight and simple but allows for great characters as the mute bounty hunter Silence (Trintignant, conveying impossible emotion with nothing but his haunting eyes) travels to a snowy town to bring down the killer of his client's husband and coincidentally fulfill a more personal vengeance. He is pitted against a range of pathetic and ugly villains, headed by a sleazy and psychotic Loco (Kinski, mesmerizing as the cruel but contained and playful killer).
All the while the nihilism and harshness of nature weigh over these characters as people freeze to death, a man drowns in a frozen lake and the survival of the fittest is demanded in a bloody fashion, leading to a devastating ending that seals this tight film together as a magnificently macabre opera of death. Unmissable.
Sergio Corbucci's masterpiece "Il Grande Silenzio" aka. "The Great
Silence" is more than just one of the greatest Westerns of all-time.
Unlike Corbucci's earlier masterpiece "Django" from 1966, a violent
Spaghetti Western, but also full of dark humor, "The Great Silence" is
a sad and utterly serious movie from the beginning to the end, a brutal
tale about misery, greed and selfishness, about injustice and the
desire for revenge.
Winter of 1898, in the mountain town of Snow Hill, Utah. People who were forced to steal in order to survive an ice cold winter, are mercilessly chased and murdered by unscrupolous bounty hunters, who don't care who they kill as long as there is a reward on their victim's head. The most atrocious of these bounty hunters is vicious Loco, outstandingly pictured by Klaus Kinski. In their calamity, desperate relatives of the head hunters' victims hire a mute gunman called Silence, in order to avenge their loved ones and end the killings.
The acting in this movie is brilliant. Nobody could be as diabolical as Klaus Kinski in the role of Loco, Jean-Louis Trintignant performance as Silence is just great, and Vonetta McGee is amazing as Pauline, a beautiful black woman, who falls in love with Silence after losing her husband to the bountykillers. The supporting cast contains such great Spaghetti Western actors as Luigi Pistilli, Mario Brega and Frank Wolff. The Music by Ennio Morricone is, once again, excellent (how couldn't it), the main theme is one of his greatest compositions. The locations are very well-chosen, impressive images of a snowy mountain wasteland make you almost feel the cold. "The Great Silence is", after "Django", Sergio Corbucci's second film that could be described as one of the most important Westerns of all-time. Both brutal and both masterpieces, the two movies are still completely different. While Django was violent but, in its dark way, also humorous, The Great Silence is sad, serious and severe. Incomparable in every aspect, "The Great Silence" even surpasses "Django" in its brilliance, and easily deserves to be named as one of the greatest Westerns ever made.
The Great Silence is a must-see, not only for fans of Spaghetti Westerns, but for every lover of film. Brilliant And Unique, one of the greatest Westerns ever made, one of my favorite movies of all time! 10/10
This is Sergio Corbucci's masterpiece. A story of revenge, with an
ending so "un-hollywood" it will remain in your memory for ever. And it
may be unjust, and leave a very bitter taste. But it is a classic
finale to a fantastic film.
The story sets itself in the aptly snow laden town of Snow Hill, and its mountainous surroundings. Bounty Hunters are preying off of the outlaws held up within the mountains - the most notorious of which is Loco, played by Klaus Kinski. The wife of one of the slain outlaws hires the mysterious mute gunslinger Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant) to exact revenge on Loco. I will spoil the story no more - as you MUST see this one for yourself.
Kinski, always adept in the part of a mad-man, steals the show in probably his most perfect spaghetti western role. There are also fine parts for spaghetti stalwarts Luigi Pistilli, Mario Brega and Frank Wolff. Morricone's score is, as ever, beautiful. Trintignant must have had one of the easiest parts of any actors anywhere - "just look cool, and don't say a thing". That said, he does it well.
The film makes use of its flashbacks with style, explaining the link between Silence and Pollicut (Pistilli) characters. It also deals with the brief and doomed relationship between Silence and the outlaw's widow with great compassion, amidst the bloodbath that we come to expect from Corbucci.
All in all, a classic film - and the best non-Leone Spaghetti Western.
This French- Italian co-production is a Spaghetti Western masterpiece
by Sergio Corbucci , being highly rated by the critics and is one of
his best movies, along with ¨the Compañeros¨ and ¨Djanjo¨. It takes
place in the snow-filled outdoors of Utah and based on real events
during the great Blizzard of 1885 and shot in Cortina D'Ampezzo in the
Dolomitas mountains located in the Alps . The film is plenty of dark
fatalism and features to Silence (Jean Louis Trintignant in his first
and unique Western , he had agreed to do the film in order to help out
the producer, who was a friend of his), a mute gunslinger with a 7,63
mm Mauser Broomhandle gun , helping a group of desperado outlaws and an
African- American woman named Pauline (Voneta McGee) attempting to
revenge death her husband against the bounty hunters led by the
ruthless Loco (Klaus Kinski) and payed by Pollicut (Luigi Pistilli) .
Furthermore, an upright sheriff (Frank Wolff) appears trying peace and
This widely deemed picture , unlike most conventional Spaghetti Western , contains exceptional setting , colorful images with a sensational cinematography by Silvano Ippoliti and features a sensitive musical score by the classic Ennio Morricone . This splendid Western results to be a remake to Japanese Samurai TV series starring Shintarô Katsu (1973) . Jean-Louis Trintignant agreed to play in a spaghetti western under the condition that he did not have to learn any lines for the role , that's why the main character conveniently became a mute in the story. Nice production design and the snow in the town of Snow Hill was created by gallons of shaving cream . The movie was widely inspired by ¨Day of outlaw¨ (Andre de Toth with Robert Ryan , 1959) and set in 1898 in a small town called Snow Hill where is developed a massacre . The motion picture was originally directed by Corbucci and displays a twisted finale with dark surprise included . As trivia, explaining that Trintignant didn't know English , language used during filming , and Marcello Mastroiani, Sergio Corbucci's friend , suggested him playing a mute gunfighter named Silence , resulting to be the film title . Rating : Better than average . Indispensable and essential seeing for SW lovers.
Exciting, gory Italian produced western with Kinski as the sadistic bounty hunter who kills with no discretion. Lots of body mutilation (typical in Corbucci films), interracial sex, and other taboo subjects. With a high quality of actors and nice photography. Corbucci also scored with "Django", but this film is better.
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