The Great Silence (1968) Directed by Sergio Corbucci

Nick :
Even for the sometime eccentric Spaghetti Western genre The Great Silence (aka Il Grande Silenzio) reaches new levels of weirdness. Corbucci had already earned his spurs with the violent yet terrific Django. He was also an obvious follower of that other Sergio, Leone. In the Italian Western genre he's regarded as influential.
Jean-Louis Trintignant plays the Silence of the title, a mute gunfighter (that's right, he doesn't utter a word the whole film) and well know champion of the downtrodden who arrives in Snowhill, a small town in Nevada. Silence has been summoned by Pauline (the beautiful Vonetta McGee) to exact revenge against bounty hunter Loco (a superbly twisted Klaus Kinksi) for the killing of her husband. The revenge aspect is as conventional as this Western gets.
The Great Silence is set in deep snowy surroundings, Corbucci using the white mountainous planes to great effect. As is almost obligatory, Ennio Morricone supplies a great score, which as usual adds so much to what's on display. The theme to the love scene between Trintignant and McGee is especially touching. Of course this being Corbucci, the violence is plentiful and the blood stands out against the white. It's worth noting also that the editing and dubbing are pretty woeful, but what is one to expect from a little seen Italian Western?
The finale between Silence and Loco, assisted by tense tones from Morricone is unexpected and shocking. It stays with you. Ultimately, the bleak denouement raises this original film above the level of curiosity and into the realms of greatness. Worth a look.


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