The Great Silence (1968) – Sergio Corbucci

The recommendation from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book following my screening of Once Upon a Time in the West have all been previously covered, except for The Great Silence.

Loco (Klaus Kinski) is stirring up lots of trouble in the Utah mountains. He and his band of bounty killers are cruel, violent, and in it only for themselves. When Loco kills the husband of Pauline (Vonetta McGee) she wants revenge, and hires a gunslinger, Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant).

Mute since his throat was cut, Gordon, aka Silence, is prepared to bring hell down on Loco and his gang in the winter of 1898.

Silence is fast with his gun, and is willing to draw over anything. Loco is cold, insane, and vicious. The two are evenly matched.

But even the tiny Utah town can’t be trusted where some hide behind the law and others fleece the town to take a cut of Loco’s bounties.

The film has that gritty late 60s early 70s feel. The blood is a little too red, and the camera work isn’t always as smooth as it should be. But it does look good. I can’t believe the conditions this film was shot in, although some of the snow is actually shaving cream.

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The story itself ends up being fairly basic, the characters are fairly regular western tropes, making the anti-hero of the film mute is a nice touch.

While there is lots going on in the film, you just want to see Silence take everyone down with his Mauser. Watching him earn his pay, romance Pauline, and shoot thumbs off his enemies is pretty cool.

Kinski, as in all his performances, is menacing, and edging on the bizarre. Also I’m not a fan of the score, which is odd because it’s Ennio Morricone. It just feels too jarring.

And speaking of jarring, I will say this, loved the ending they went with. That was taking a chance to be sure.

I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Leone’s westerns. It’s a solid enough film, but just doesn’t feel as well put together as some of the other examples of the genre. In fact as much as I tried to stay involved with the film, I found my attention wandering more often than I would like.

While there were some cool ideas, and that ending, there just wasn’t enough in this film to keep involved in the film. I would have wanted more from it, whether in its staging, or its score. This one for me, was a bit of a letdown.

Oh well, I’m not going to love all these films on all these lists…

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