Have rewatched California recently, and even if I see the film now more positive, it still remains a mixed quality work.
The uneveness of the film is obvious.
The 1st half is about the struggle for survival of the confederate soldiers in the aftermath of the civilwar, but similar to The Hellbenders it lacks an interesting enough perspective to catch my interest. Mud combined with washed out colors became long since cliches for showing the war. Also the Vilmos Zsigmond style lighting, which is overused by the photography, had becom still a visual cliche in the late 70s.
But if you watch California you’ll understand easily why these last SWs are often called Twilight Spaghettis.
Then there is a bridging section with a bit farming (made by people who had not the slightest ideas about farming, which in this film disturbed me) and a quickly developed romance to set the basis for the search/revenge of the 2nd half. Too shortly developed to create an emotianal involvement.
The 2nd half then suddenly turns the whole thing into a SW, and even if some elements of the 1st half are still present, most of what we had seen up to this point wasn’t excatly necessary for the rest of California’s runtime.
Now the film surprisingly turns the Raimund Harmstorff character into a tragic figure, who now himself became a victim of the new times, and suddenly there seems to be a not expected connection between Gemma and him. But again this new elements of the story are hardly established, when the film hastily ends in a usual way, instead of intensifying the relationship of the men.
At least California is like all of Lupo SWs often good to look at, with an affectionate production design, several nicely made scenes, but as an overall effect it also leaves me behind a bit unsatisfied.