For a long time I wanted to see this one, after all it’s not so often that you have Pasolini in a SW. The traditional revenge plot, this time used strongly as a political statement, this just by itself was enough to transform the all film into some pretentious and mostly tedious propagandistic nightmare, but it’s not the case in my view, or at least it’s not totally the case, even if that was the director’s and writers intention. The film it’s full of twists not in a thriller’s kind of way, but more in a psychological or mental way. I did notice that the writing credits include till nine persons, one being the guy that wrote the initial episodes of the series La Piovra, so the film is indeed a political statement but not in the way I was expecting to be, a more subtle one. The fight of the people resembles a lot the fight of the Sem Terra movement, literally The Without Land that is a strong movement in Brasil and other Central and South American countries, the usual political rhetoric is given to us through all the film mixed with religiosity, trying to show us contrast, and after watching so many I believe that SW’s were mostly used by some directors as a mere mean to express they’re political views (mostly leftist, but not only) rather than pure artistic and cinematographic ones, art or underground films had little viewers, and there’s no point in converting the already converted, under the excuse of westerns, the class fight could be brought to a wider audience, this one it’s a fine example of that. The twist here is also the appearance of what it seems to me the Christian movement called freedom theory, where Christianity meets Marx. The key character is no doubt father Juan (Pasolini) he says in the end, that they are not there to kill, to kill its against the teachings of Christ, but someone must kill for us, and then he invites Requiescant to be their leader, there’s no revolution without violence and without violent men, that’s an important aspect of the film. Another important and an often criticised point in the film it’s the fact of Lou Castel character know how to use a gun from nothing, I think the writers were trying to show us that as some sort miracle some predestination in this case for violence, (the salvation will come from the fighter, we have to fight to take what is ours by right) the all film is full of religious symbolisms, and Lou Castel character education as a good Christian does not happen by chance, as the film tries to disclose us his transformation into a revolutionary leader. Other interesting point it’s the homosexual behaviour of the bad guy, the reactionary evil landlord, has misogynous or gay feelings towards his gunman at least it’s what’s imply, shit it’s a 1967 film were talking about, and they through all into fire, I really liked to know how the public and critics reacted to this films at the time. Its clearly a political film, trying to educate or condition the viewers.
Lou castel never quite convinced me as a good actor, from the films I’ve seen of him he sometimes looks absent, distant (even in Quiem Sabe? Where he has the bad luck of acting with Volonté) he apperead fom time t time in some film I’ve seen Irma vep, the American friend, but then I remember his performance in Il Pugno in tasca (and also Samperi’s Grazie Zia), and wondered if a great actor was lost, or those performances were just one hit wonders. On the other hand I was surprised with Mark Damon, very good performance on the most difficult role, he that was a normally a B type films actor who would become a very successful producer, the rest of the cast goes rather well including the baddies and also the girls
Checking the work of the directors can tell us something about their SW. Lizzani started directing with the first wave of Neo-Realist Italian directors, making very strongly social documentaries, was clearly a left winged director, that made some more commercial films (The hills Run Red although a revenge story could not be more different from this one) in order to be able to make more political related films like Kleinhoff Hotel for instnce, a very bad film by the way.
In this one he lets the story flow in a normal way, but its more worried in showing us his political agenda than the normal narrative of the film, and even if some scenes are well done, like the shooting on the candlelabras hold by the girl, others are very far fetched, (I would not go easy putting a rope in my neck), and the ending was a bit forced and obvious, the all film suffers from being very predictable.
The camera work its well done in some cases very well done especially those scenes that evolved artificial light.
I have to say that in general I liked, it was nice to watch but not for its artistic merits I’m afraid, as a SW it’s a pretty normal, the difference it’s the political agenda on it, most of the time it’s a propagandist film about the class fight and how the poor will inherit this world, and also of the South American emergent Liberty theory, pity that Lizzani could not make a better western, showing things in the underlines its more effective most of the times, but its also more difficult to achieve, and Lizzani with one or two really good movies (from the ones I’ve seen) is not a that gifted director, the film suffers from being pretty predictable and also from an anaemic main actor.
The score it’s a very good one, very effective one of the best things of the movie
I would not go beyond 3 stars (in my 0 to 5 classification)