Keoma (Enzo G. Castellari, 1976)

(TetsuPhoenix) #201

I will go on and say that, if you don’t like the soundtrack you are missing a big part of what makes the movie unique.

(Col. Douglas Mortimer) #202

I like both the Mannaja and Keoma soundtracks…well at least the instrumental aspects of it. The singing I can do without.

(John Welles) #203

Keoma: The Avenger (Castellari/76)

Keoma: The Avenger (1976), is a Spaghetti Western directed by Enzo G. Castellari (who would late make the 1976 film Inglorious Bastards, a film that Quentin Tarantino paid a large homage to in Inglorious Basterds [2008]) and stars genre stalwart Franco Nero. This film comes from the dying days of the genre, when it was in its protracted and some times painful decline. Only one or two more Spaghetti Westerns were made before it died, but this particular entry is among the best and can stand comparison with anything made in the 1960s. It is a great last hurrah, all the better for being resolutely un-nostalgic.

The script is by Mino Roli, Nico Ducci, Luigi Montefiori, and Enzo Girolami; it covers familiar territory but in an unusual fashion: Half-breed Indian Keoma (Nero) returns, after the American Civil War, to his border hometown where he finds it under the control of an ex-Confederate raider called Caldwell (Donald O’Brien) and his gang. Keoma’s three half-brothers have also united with Caldwell and want to make sure Keoma doesn’t hang around.

What distinguishes this banal storyline is the overt use of not just allegorical mysticism, but also borrowings from ancient Greek plays, such as the wandering Earth-mother character, which is splendidly played by Gabriella Giacobbe. This surprising if obvious use of symbolism coupled with apocalyptic imagery really makes the film standout in your memory.

The direction from Castellari is highly efficient, and one of the best parts of the film. However, the frequent use of slow motion, while well done, is derivative of Sam Peckinpah, but without his mature understanding of violence. Here, it is just done for “cool” effect.

The cast is exceptional in its bringing together icons of the genre, from Franco Nero, Django himself, to such great supporting actors as William Berger, Woody Strode and Donald O’Brien. All give performances perfectly suited to their roles and are almost reason enough to watch the film.

On the debt side, unfortunately, is a fairly terrible score by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis, with some terrible singing (sounding like drunken amateur folk singers) punctuating the action like nails on a blackboard; ah well, you can’t have it all, can you?

Still, this is a hugely enjoyable late entry in the spaghetti Western oeuvre that I highly recommend.

(scherpschutter) #204

Well written, John.

(ENNIOO) #205

Nero’s face looks a little cartoon like in the poster.

(John Welles) #206

Thank you :).

(Hilts) #207

[size=14pt]I have just watched this for the second time. I think this is a great spag west and have given it a 5 star rating. Now all my ratings are based on ignoring leone’s FAFDM and TGTBATU because these 2 films are as near to perfection as you can get and anything compared to them is gonna be 2 stars behind. However, Keoma is a great film, … sets, costumes, characters, action, story, atmosphere, and the score is brill too, it fits in with the film and the time (1976). [/size]

(Phil H) #208

Yesterday saw the end of a week of 1976 for me and thought I should make sure to squeeze in a Twighlight Spaghetti before it was too late. On checking through this thread I was surprised to find I hadn’t commented on it before despite having seen it a few times over the years. I also wondered why I hadn’t reviewed it before but then re-read Scherps’ excellent one on and remembered that he had said everything I might have wanted to on the subject.

For the record though I’ve always liked this one and, along with Johnny Hamlet, is among Castellari’s very best work I think. In fact, despite enjoying it enough in the past to give it a 4 star rating here I found on this latest viewing that it is improving still in my mind. In particular, Castellari’s visuals and the ‘walk through’ flashbacks are inspired work. I even found the singing more bearable this time around.

In short, it’s a good’un and, much like some of us forumites, improves with age.

(Stanton) #209

Yes, it gets better by repeated viewings, some of the scenes are pretty good. Still some uninspired stuff in it, but meanwhile I give it a 7/10.

(titoli) #210

I’ve just watched it for the first time. Scherpschutter’ review pretty much sums my impressions - music reminded me of Cohen from McCabe…, slow-motion shootouts were little bit annoying blatant imitation of Bloody Sam, most original part was the blending of memories and reality and the post-apocalyptic atmosphere, etc. So I will just add that the best part for me was absolutely stunning look of the movie, which I guess goes mostly to credit of Carlo Simi. This guy was really a genius, he deserves an Oscar for life achievement in his field, or something.

(Asa) #211

Fantastic movie. Fantastic-looking movie, too. Really scummy and grimy. I’m not buying into Franco Nero as a “half-breed” native American any more than I’m buying into him as a Scandinavian gun for hire, no matter how much hair they pile on top of him (he kind-of resembled Captain Caveman if you ask me. Do you remember that show?). But who cares, when he’s this magnetic? First time I’ve really liked William Berger too; I know he’s a favourite of many but that sly, lop-sided, self-satisfied smug perma-grin of his really upsets me for some reason. But it’s not in evidence here for a change and he’s all the better for it. The film itself - very downbeat, very “serious”. I loved it, hooked in from very early on right to the end (great gunfight near the end twixt Nero, Berger, Woody Strode and the bad guys, too). But… what was up with that soundtrack? Worse than the Mannaja dirge, this one. Horrible, absolutely horrible. Made me think of those “literal pop videos” that were popular on Youtube once upon a time (never seen one? HERE you go, they’re “hilarious” ??? ).

-Franco Nero in Keoma

(Bill san Antonio) #212

I watched blu-ray projection of Keoma yesterday. Although I’ve always loved this movie I liked it now more than ever, like stanton said Keoma gets better with repeated viewings and seeing it on the blu-ray made it more impressive as i could really enjoy the beautiful landscapes and the impressive settings. Was the film shot in Spain? The Landscapes are so great but they look very different than in most sw’s.

(jesse james) #213

I can’t say I know where it was shot, but even well known landscapes are supposed to look different in all twilight sws, when the sets were somewhat destroyed.

(JonathanCorbett) #214

Campo Imperatore, Abruzzo, Italy

(JerryLeeVanCleef) #215

This film is one of my all-time favorites. The realistic portrayal of the struggle of a man caught between many sides hits home with me. He is literally the result of two opposing sides (his mother and father) and must fight against his own brothers for the safety and freedom of his townspeople, with support from his father. Keoma is a man put in the middle of many sides and must stand up for what he believes is right. Woody Strode’s performance is outstanding as well, as a man who was previously upheld by those around him, but fell to the depths of alcoholism and poverty. Only Nero could portray a character who witnessed his world around him crumble down while he was away, and find it in himself to live up to the responsibility of putting things back in place.

(titoli) #216

Watched it again last night. The soundtrack is really hilarious. It is only (unintentionally) funny element in otherwise very somber movie. It would’ve been silly even without bad English accent, but that male vocal makes it simply ridiculous. It is obvious they tried to copy Cohen’s soundtrack for McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Off course it sound nothing like Cohen. In the end it is soundtrack so-bad-you-can-stop-listening-to-it. It has inspired me to start new topic :slight_smile:

(autephex) #217

Oh I don’t know about that… Keoma’s fashion sense is pretty hilarious, which seemed to develop during his childhood.

(ENNIOO) #218

I like Keoma for what it is, and just think of the directors say earlier film Cry Onion when I want a moan about one of his westerns :smiley: .

(jesse james) #219

I have been trying to find which is the most complete runtime for this movie: here in the swdb I can read 101 minutes and in the imdb 105 minutes. Does anyone know which is the most complete version available?

(Stanton) #220

101 min is correct.