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Italy 1968
Directed by
Sergio Corbucci
101 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
David Michael Brown
3 stars

The Great Silence

Synopsis: Silence, a deaf mute bounty hunter, played by Euro-legend, Jean-Louis Trintignant, arrives in a small snow bound town in Utah. He lost his senses when villains killed his parents and slit his throat. Driven by revenge, Silence is on a one-man mission to kill every criminal alive, shooting his victims thumbs off so they cannot shoot back. Not all bounty hunters are so selective, Tigrero, Klaus Kinski, is a psychotic killer who will murder anyone who gets in his way. The town isn't big enough for the both of them and the bloody finale leaves one man standing alongside a pile of bloody corpses.

Directed with nihilistic panache by Sergio Corbucci, the man who helped kick-start Franco Nero's career with Django in 1966; The Great Silence is an exciting and surprising addition to the Spaghetti Western genre. The film is reminiscent of Django in many ways, the quiet loner at odds with the authorities and the criminal world, graphically violent digit abuse and a gritty line in macho dialogue. It's strange that the Nero vehicle has become a classic of the genre where The Great Silence has been rarely seen since its original release.

Despite the presence of Trintignant and Tom Wolff, Kinski steals the show. He was already an old hand at the Western having working with Sergio Leone on For a Few Dollars More in 1965 and Bullet For a General by Damiano Damiani in 1966.

The film's music by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicoldi lacks the aural spark of Morricone's work with Sergio Leone, the humour and diversity of his most famous work replaced here by a more sombre traditional score. It does, however, enhance the grave ambience that Corbucci has created.

Beautifully shot, the snow-covered vistas give this western a completely other-worldly atmosphere. The often-gory violence as our hero blows off his enemy's thumbs is accentuated as the brilliant red blood sprays against the stark white snow. This is a cold and harsh Western that takes no prisoners; downbeat from beginning to end it's a classic example of the genre, the underdog desperately hanging onto life against a vicious oppressor. Unfortunately in Corbucci's forbidding world, the little guy never wins.




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