THE GREAT SILENCE
IL GRANDE SILENZIO
Sergio Corbucci, Italy/France, 1968, DCP, 105′, English subtitles
Organized in cooperation with CSC – Cineteca Nazionale, the screening will include the presentation of the film’s two alternative endings.
Before the screening, Dr Austin Fisher from Bournemouth University (UK), a specialist in Italian Western and its political implications, will present a talk entitled “All According to the Law”: Sergio Corbucci, The Great Silence and the Italian Western.
In a mountain village surrounded by perpetual snow, the starved villagers must steal to survive. Condemned as outlaws, they fall prey to a group of bandits lead by a bloodthirsty bounty hunter (Klaus Kinski). The only thing that stands between them is a mysterious mute gunslinger (Jean-Louis Trintignant), who always draws second, but shoots first. Sergio Corbucci’s unique, darkly violent and deeply nihilistic snowy masterpiece is rightfully considered the greatest and most mythical of all Italian political Westerns.
“Darryl F. Zanuck hated it. After the masterful American producer screened the relentlessly downbeat, anti-capitalist spaghetti Western Il grande silenzio (The Great Silence, Sergio Corbucci, 1968), he refused to release it in the United States or England. Asian and North African distributors demanded, and got, an alternate, “happy” ending to tack on to their prints. The US couldn’t get a look at the film until it appeared on DVD in 2001. But The Great Silence is not nihilistic. It is political, it is subversive, it is despairing; but, at heart, it is an existential drama with a self-defining, Christlike hero at its centre. Corbucci was riding high in reputation at the time, Sergio Leone’s equal (in Italy, if not elsewhere) as an influence on the western all’italiana. /…/ That he took such a grim tack in The Great Silence was due in part to his despair over the recent murders of revolutionaries Malcolm X and Che Guevara. Director Alex Cox writes, ‘For the radical … both deaths were terrible news. You could only take on the powerful and the wicked for a short time, it seemed, before they crushed you.’ The Great Silence is a political allegory, with none of the tediousness that implies.”
– Brad Weismann, Senses of Cinema