19. 4. 2022 / 20:00 / Slovenska kinoteka / Free admission

“All According to the Law”: Sergio Corbucci, The Great Silence and the Italian Western

Talk by Dr Austina Fisherja(Bournemouth University, UK)

On the surface, Sergio Corbucci’s The Great Silence (Il grande silenzio, 1968) stands out as an anomaly among Italian Westerns. This extraordinarily striking film stands apart from its peers due to its blizzard-bitten setting, its infamous ending, and the haunting, contemplative beauty of its execution. It arose from the industrial context of the Italian filone system: a business model by which films would be churned out as quickly as possible to maximise earnings from a profitable formula, rather than gamble on the artistry of individual films becoming box-office hits. Corbucci was one of the most prolific filmmakers in this system and made a significant amount of money over the course of his career by sticking to this concentrated, formulaic release strategy. So, where did The Great Silence come from? In reality, Corbucci was again astutely plugging into trends within the filone system. In the second half of the 1960s, the Italian Western increasingly lent itself to critiques of western capitalism, in tune with the countercultural protest movements arising round the world. For all its stylistic distinctiveness, The Great Silence – with its central message that behind the veneer of bourgeois propriety lies a violent and exploitative base – belongs firmly within this tradition. This talk will chart the various threads of influence that fed into, and out of, Corbucci’s film, to show how it is in fact a consummate Italian Western, due to its finely-tuned blend of convention and invention.

The talk will be followed by a screening of The Great Silence at 21:00, including both alternative endings that director Sergio Corbucci shot on the wish and demand of his producers and foreign distributors.

Dr Austin Fisher is Associate Professor of Popular Culture at Bournemouth University. He is author of Blood in the Streets: Histories of Violence in Italian Crime Cinema (2019) and Radical Frontiers in the Spaghetti Western (2011), as well as editor of Spaghetti Westerns at the Crossroads (2016) and Grindhouse: Cultural Exchange on 42nd Street, and Beyond (2016). He is also co-editor of Bloomsbury’s “Global Exploitation Cinemas” book series.


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