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'Sicilia!' is a film and immersive cinematic experience that has really stayed with me in the days and months since I viewed it. I was aware that it was one that ali-112 valued particularly highly and that played into my particularly wanting to see it in conjunction with a yearly poll being run at that time.
This is a film of re-immersion, rediscovery, re-exposure. It is certainly a quietly amazing sensory experience. The definition and striking contrasts between blacks and whites in the cinematography carries a vividness, a clarity, and a tonal subtlety that assigns importance and individuality to everything that passes before the lens. I have read reviews that have described the unhurried observational qualities of Straub and Huillet as seeming austere and even boring. While I do have question-marks and perhaps some reservations as a newcomer about their approach to film-making, I think that the sparse, sharply defined compositions exhibit a beguiling and captivating artistic sense that leads to the film being utterly memorable.
This was my first foray into the films of Straub and Huillet and perhaps I don't appreciate fully yet the subtlety of their melding of a humane Marxism and cinematic form. Their cinematic language can seem challenging but it can also come across as being tranquil and meditative. The aesthetic inclusivity that lingers upon empty spaces as sounds fade naturally displays an inventiveness and an openness that allows one to look at one's own ways of perceiving and presents opportunities to watch and listen in newly attentive and attuned ways that might confound inculcated expectations of rigid regimentation as well as allowing one to question the finely honed strictures and edited orderliness of filmic presentation that we as viewers have become so accustomed to digesting. This willingness to ascribe just as much importance to silence and blank space leads to a continually captivating and, in some ways, unsettling work. And key to all of it is of course the nature of the dialogue, as this returned son of Sicily observes and interacts. I should perhaps mention that the copy I watched didn't carry any subtitles. In a way, in retrospect, I am glad that this was the case. The words spoken, while obviously central, were only one aspect of the communication in the film. The vital, irrepressible cadence of the dialogue and the emphasised delivery proved transfixing and succeeded in going beyond the immediacy of the spoken word to probe deeper qualities of individuality and the inherent complexity of human expression. Despite not picking up all that was said, I feel that the way I experienced the film allowed me to appreciate it in a more enriching and involving fashion than if I had been reaching down for subtitles and continually averting my gaze from the multi-layered on-screen discussions.
I undoubtedly found it a challenging film to watch but I suspect that it is a work that I will come to value even more as I gain a greater understanding and appreciation of Straub and Huillet and their carefully attentive, literary-minded explorations of film language. 'Sicilia!' makes for a humanistic, contemplative, and startlingly inventive entry (at least to this uninitiated viewer!) and I certainly look forward to exploring more of their output over the coming months and years.
Stunning images on land, people and houses.
The majority of actors are villagers of Sicilian villages.
They speak in dialect, so it is difficult to understand the movie without subtitles. Central part in the movie are the oranges, that nobody wants to buy.
I saw the movie ten years ago and since then I didn't have occasion to saw it again. When I first saw the movie I also thought it is boring. I needed more years to understand that this is a great movie.
Hope everybody would get the chance to look at it, till the end.
"Sicilia!" is a boring movie about the homecoming of a man after many years living abroad. Along his journey back home, the situation of the unsophisticated Sicily is disclosed through his conversations with his countrymen. This low-budget black and white film might be interesting for people from Sicily or from First World Countries, but I found it dull and painful to watch. This movie was released in Brazil on VHS by Cult Films Distributor. My vote is three.
Title (Brazil): "Gente da Sicília" ("People of the Sicily")