The Great Silence (1968)

Directed by Sergio Corbucci
Written by Vittoriano Petrilli, Mario Amendola, Bruno Corbucci and Sergio Corbucci
(number 395)

The story of some really evil bounty hunters, a silent heroic…. dude, and a lot of nasty deaths in a frozen landscape. Utah Winter is an unusual setting for a Western and does allow for some very beautiful shots, the soft snow falling through the standard men posturing scenes.

The bleakness of the snowy landscape suits the storyline well. The tale of the final winter of legal bounty hunters and the horrible acts of violence and murder that these men did, under a thin veil of ‘it’s the law’. It’s pretty sickening. Especially when you’re used to the tropes of Westerns with the over the top bad guy generally getting his come-uppance and the laconic (in this case entirely mute) hero winning the day and saving the innocent.

The intro to Silence was pretty cool – the fast shooting and showing that unless he is sure of being shot he won’t shoot to kill, it’s not terribly often you get a pacifist hero in a Western after all. Taking the ‘man with no name’ paucity of words to the extreme, Silence is totally mute after a wound he received as a boy. There is some great eyebrow acting from him.

Does it make me love the people? I… I dunno. Silence is pretty cool, but I don’t know that I love him. Rather this film makes me hate all the bounty hunters, so in a sense it makes me sympathetic to everyone victimised by them. Sort of an element of empathy won by repulsive characters rather than courageous ones.

Bechdel test: Regina and Pauline do speak but it’s about bringing food to the bandits, who are all men so … I don’t think that’s a pass. Plus the women are very two dimensional, Pauline is pretty much only a damnsel in distress/love interest.

Best line:

Not exactly a line but… this was very powerful.

The massacres of 1898, year of the Great Blizzard, finally brought forth fierce public condemnation of the bounty killers, who, under the guise of false legality, made violent murder a profitable way of life. For many years there was a clapboard sign at Snow Hill which carried this legend: MEN’S BOOTS CAN KICK UP THE DUST OF THIS PLACE FOR A THOUSAND YEARS, BUT NOTHING MAN CAN EVER DO WILL WIPE OUT THE BLOOD STAINS OF THE POOR FOLK WHO FELL HERE.

State of Mind: Maybe I’ve seen enough of these Spaghetti Westerns now to not care too much or maybe I wasn’t in the best mood when I watched this. I’m not sure. At any rate this movie was pretty boring to me, and I found the level of violence to be brutal and upsetting, the end was too bleak. I have to watch something nice now. Thank goodness I watched this when Anna was out! Not the least because it opens with a horse dying 😦

Watched movie count


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