A Bullet for the General / ¿Quién sabe? (Damiano Damiani, 1966)


(Sebastian) #1

Database page: http://www.spaghetti-western.net/index.php/Quien_Sabe

An excellent revolution western. Great cast, great music, great script. I love it

Here’s Alex Cox’ intro:


(Silvanito) #2

An important spaghetti, the first political sw, and certainly one of the best.

Not so visually stylized, but a very well-made and interesting film nontheless.


(Sebastian) #3

I love the music though, and Volonté was great!


(Silvanito) #4

Yes Volonte is great in this one!

But he is great also in the Dollars films :slight_smile:


(Bill san Antonio) #5

Main reason why I like this movie is it’s brilliant ending. One of the best endings in the whole history of cinema IMHO.

Bullet for the General haven’t lost it’s touch if you think of the political aspect of the movie.


(Why?) #6

as we all know this was a test run for Gilo Pontecorvo’s burn with Marlon Brando. However both films are flawed and I wonder if there is a third version out there. I am not talking Ken Loach, but rather “PRETTY WOMEN”, where the outsider nurtures the innocent to fulfillment. A good Marxist film never wears the heart on the sleeve but rather up its nose. The thing that dates both movies now is the sharp cutting of scenes, I remember (I am over 60) that this is what hit you in the face at the time, but now I find them difficult to view, although I have, and also battle of Algiers. Sad to hear of Pontercorvo’s death and lack of product, he seemed always to be working on a project that never got made. The ultimate outsider, waiting for his hero to return to give substance to death. Why? Qien Sabe?


(New Brandon) #7

I just saw this one today. Pretty much my thoughts exactly are above. This may seem small, but I loved the (Anchor Bay) DVD menu.


(Earl McGraw) #8

Hell I like this movie. I rented it and it was very good. A big 8/10 movie. It hasn’t got the great stylized action that Spaghetti-westerns often have but it’s got so much other quality’s. Gian Maria Volonté is so great in this, the ending is so emotional and the movie just works in every way.


(The Gun) #9

It’s good but I don’t really like the communist subtext… Great acting by Volonte though, I love the ending.


(Phil H) #10

Just watched the Blue Underground edition of this film which I received recently.

For me this is one of the very best Spaghettis and worthy of anyone’s top ten. Great direction by Damiani, a terrific score from Bacalov and Volonte on top form as Chuncho. It also has Klaus Kinski appearing for more than 5 minutes which is always a bonus.

Of course Damiani insists that this film is not a western as it is a 20th century story set outside of the USA. He has a valid point and I tend to agree in principle but this is just such a great movie and has so many conventions parallel with westerns that I’m happy to include it as a Spaghetti Western. Apart from anything else, its strong political position throws such interesting counter points to the morals or lack thereof in other films of the genre. A classic.


(Stanton) #11

There are too much typical western scenes in it, so why Damiani was saying it’s not a western, when at the same time he had directed most parts of Quien sabe? like a western?

Because the intellectuals were ashamed of the genre.

So Damiani had tried to do the splits, and he had succeeded, because the film works.

Great stuff.


(Silver) #12

Thinking of finally updating from my old vhs of this one and getting the dvd. Since there seem to be a few floating around, anyone have any suggestions as to which is the best option?

As for the film itself, it is one of, if not the best of the “political” westerns, with excellent performances from Volonte and Castel, and a fantastic score. That said, i do get a little irritated with it’s politics at times; it doesn’t so much wear them on it’s sleeve as beat you about the head with them. I tend to agree with Tomas Milian’s sentiments that politics and entertainment should really be seperate things. Still a great film despite this. And that ending is something! Although i do kind of feel sorry for Lou Castel’s character! :stuck_out_tongue:


(Cian) #13

The Anchor Bay copy is supposed to be uncut, but no extras other than a trailer.


(Phil H) #14

I have the Blue Underground edition and am very happy with it. Great picture quality.


(Søren) #15

As far as I know this is exactly the same as the Anchor Bay-edition. I do wish Blue Underground would release something new. It’s been what 4-5 years since they released a (new) spaghetti western!?


(Phil H) #16

Yes, I’m pretty sure it is the same as the Anchor Bay edition. And yes, I wish they would bring something new out. Their releases are always great quality.


(slaughterlord) #17

Not Only A BULLET But Every One Of The Old AB Titles BU Is Now Re-Releasing Will Have The Same Transfer,That Is Until The Up Coming 2 Disc Set Of LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE.
That One Is Too Be Re Mastered In High Def.


(Jack Burns) #18

Watched this yesterday. Great film and a definite top ten, as others have already mentioned.

It’s a complicated story with some very simple yet profound truths.

A lot of people in the U.S. don’t care for the politicized nature of Zapata westerns, which I have a hard time understanding since our nation was born from revolution against non-representative government. In the case of this film, the cause of the revolutionaries seems just; they’re only guilty of choosing the wrong revolutionary path. I suppose films like El Chuncho, quien sabe? are viewed as anti-capitalist, since it about peasants and farmers revolting against the ruling class.

The film makes an important statement about the use of violence to overthrow corrupt and violent governments and oppressors, as well the ability for money to corrupt noble causes. While the cause of El Chuncho may have been just, when he and his fellow rebels murder the capitalist leader of the San Miguel, it clearly shows that they’ve fallen to an even lower level, replacing one violent regime with another.

Yet, you’re somehow sympathetically drawn to this charismatic, but uneducated character.

The erosion of Chuncho’s principles is clearly seen in his abandonment of the people of San Miguel, an act that nearly costs him his life, and culminates in his acceptance of gold for the killing of the revolutionary leader, General Elías. But in the end he recovers, kills the greedy gringo assassin and returns to his roots. A good ending.

There are a few faux paux:

The saguaro cacti aren’t real convincing and look badly out of place.

Early in the film Niño is able to wear his gun holster around unchallenged after telling the story of having to steal a pistol in order to stop the train. Seems obvious he’s had a gun all along.

Excellent role for Klaus Kinski, however, and a well done screen play with an outstanding musical score. It’s a great film!


(Silvanito) #19

Good review Burns, but I can see why people don’t care for this film in the US.

It was very fashionable among certain groups of people in the west in the 60s and 70s to be left-wing and anti-capitalist, much more so than today.

So it’s because of this that these revolutionary spaghettis were made in the first place, left-wing filmmakers expressed their political views through popular cinema.

Only pity that many of these people believed communism was the answer to the world’s problems and injustices.

This is the most openly anti-capitalist and anti-american of the political spaghettis and was a huge hit in many third world countries.

It’s one of the best and most interesting spaghettis made. It certainly glorifies armed revolution, something Leone criticized in Giu La Testa when he had Juan say:" The people who read the books they talk and talk… but what has happened to the poor people? They are dead! That’s your revolution".

A Bullet for the General is milestone of the genre, whatever you think of its political statements.


(Phil H) #20

Good review Jack.
Quien sabe is undoubtedly one of the best spaghetti westerns ever made in my opinion and it is the depth of character and political subtext which makes it so special. So often with spaghettis it is all about about action and style over substance (and don’t get me wrong, I love them for it) but when a film comes along like this which delves deeper into the psyches of its characters it really stands out.

Obviously, times change and political fashions change with them but films like this are still relevant because they raise issues which are still with us whichever side of the political fence you sit on. Issues of personal gain over social justice, class struggle and foreign intervention in local political conflicts are pretty darn universal and are as topical today as they were in the 1960’s.

What’s more, you get Volonte at his manic best. I love this film.