A young boy witnesses his parents' murder. Later, as he grows up, he befriends a bear in the wilderness and the chief of a local Indian tribe, and he stays with the Indians, but makes an ... See full summary »
A young boy witnesses his parents' murder. Later, as he grows up, he befriends a bear in the wilderness and the chief of a local Indian tribe, and he stays with the Indians, but makes an enemy of the chief's son. As he enters adulthood he sets out to find the men responsible for his parents' deaths. Written by
I think not... there's been a few since then such as "My West" with Harvey Keitel but maybe this shall be the last notable one, by one of the few remaining original Spaghetti Western directors Enzo G. Castellari.
As some you know, the Italian film industry was in complete disarray by the end of the 1980's as they failed to be able to compete against American films and video sales. By 1990 Italian film was relegated mostly to low budget art films and TV movies, but in the early 90's the dissolution of the Soviet Union brought about a continuance of the spirit of cooperation between Italy and Russia not enjoyed much since the early 70's. Several big budget co-productions emerged in these first few years but largely became fiasco's such as the only recently finished QUIET FLOWS THE DON and the ever-languishing GENGHIS KHAN. In the true spirit of Italian copycat film-making, with DANCES WITH WOLVES garnering much critical and financial praise at the time, it only made sense to try a Spaghetti Western in the vast expanses of the largely untouched motherland. Hire on Castellari, who in turn brings a few of his regulars (but strangely no Romano Puppo), David Hess, John Saxon, and you get a highly entertaining oddly cast and strangely themed last gasp of a nearly forgotten genre.
Franco Nero produces (put up the money in a retread down memory lane) and plays a part that would have better suited him 15 years earlier (and it did when it was called "KEOMA") as a gunslinger raised by Indians and befriended by a bear. He's out for revenge against the thugs who killed his birth parents while trying to stop an evil politician (Saxon) from ruining the environment with oil prospecting, plus he still has an old rivalry to settle with his step brother. There's also a local ruffian played by Roderigo Obregon (I am guessing that he was being groomed by the Italian film industry to be the next Werner Pochath - to play a creepy sleaze bag in every film), who kidnaps Nero's woman.
While this is easily one of Enzo's most technically polished films... especially in terms of cinematography with MANY beautiful shots, JONATHAN is lacking much of the fun and originality of Enzo's previous efforts. It's still a good film, but pales in comparison to KEOMA, to which it owes very much, if not everything. Characteristically for Castellari, it's loaded with slow motion (though editor Moriani is no Amicucci or Tomassi), and there's a few film in-jokes like the chief villain Goodwin being named after Enzo's son-in-law Greg Goodwin. Many of the action sequences are rather unbelievable, or borderline ridiculous, and a lot of the Native American extras look more like Kazakhs or Uzbekhs to me, but I'm just nitpicking.
Considering the rest of Italy's output at the time, it's amazing this film is as good as it is. A shame it never got a proper distribution, as well as a shame that it didn't re-kick-start Castellari's career.
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