A chain mail-clad gunfighter contends with a pacifist sheriff, a seductive banker, a one-armed Mexican bandit, corrupt businessmen and hippies while trying to learn the secret of the money allegedly stolen by his lynched brother.
Bounty killers led by Loco prey on outlaws hiding out in the snowbound Utahn mountains. After Pauline's husband becomes Loco's latest victim, she hires a gunman for revenge; Silence, mute since his throat was cut when he was a boy.Written by
Tom Seldon <email@example.com>
According to Sergio Corbucci, Marcello Mastroianni gave him the idea of a mute gunfighter when the actor told him that he had always wanted to do a Western, but unfortunately didn't speak English. When Corbucci first met Jean-Louis Trintignant, he learned that he didn't speak English either. Because he had a fascination with characters with a crippling weakness, Corbucci decided that this was the moment to turn the taciturn Spaghetti Western hero into a mute. See more »
A skiing pole can be seen partially buried in the snow on the left-hand side of the stagecoach when Silence is traveling to meet Pauline (just before he meets Sheriff Burnett for the first time). See more »
[after Silence has killed four other bounty killers]
W-Wait! I-I surrender! Don't kill me! I-I won't do it again! I'm through with bounty hunting! Don't kill me, Silence!
[Silence shoots both of the man's thumbs off; the killer moans in pain]
Damn you! You've... crippled my hands!
[tries to shoot Silence with his pistol, but is shot in the back by Miguel]
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Two alternative endings were created for this film:
A "happy" ending, in which Sheriff Burnett (having somehow survived being trapped under a frozen lake) rides into town and shoots Loco before he can kill Silence, allowing him to kill the remaining bounty killers. This ending was once believed to be shot for the North African and Japanese markets, but has since been revealed to have been created as an alternative solution for the producers, who wanted the film to have a "seasonal" (ie. Christmas) appeal.
A lesser-known, "ambiguous" re-cut of the original ending with additional footage, in which Silence is wounded, but Loco gestures to his gang members to leave the saloon before they can kill anyone.
"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 SILENCE (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.
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