A chain mail-clad gunfighter contends with a pacifist sheriff, a seductive banker, a one-armed Mexican bandit, corrupt businessmen and hippies while trying to learn the secret of the money allegedly stolen by his lynched brother.
Bounty killers led by Loco prey on outlaws hiding out in the snowbound Utahn mountains. After Pauline's husband becomes Loco's latest victim, she hires a gunman for revenge; Silence, mute since his throat was cut when he was a boy.Written by
Tom Seldon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
At the bar, when Loco punches Silence, his hat flies off his head. But When Silence is on the floor his hat is back on his head. See more »
[after Silence has killed four other bounty killers]
W-Wait! I-I surrender! Don't kill me! I-I won't do it again! I'm through with bounty hunting! Don't kill me, Silence!
[Silence shoots both of the man's thumbs off; the killer moans in pain]
Damn you! You've... crippled my hands!
[tries to shoot Silence with his pistol, but is shot in the back by Miguel]
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Two alternative endings were created for this film:
A "happy" ending, in which Sheriff Burnett (having somehow survived being trapped under a frozen lake) rides into town and shoots Loco before he can kill Silence, allowing him to kill the remaining bounty killers. This ending was once believed to be shot for the North African and Japanese markets, but has since been revealed to have been created as an alternative solution for the producers, who wanted the film to have a "seasonal" (ie. Christmas) appeal.
A lesser-known, "ambiguous" re-cut of the original ending with additional footage, in which Silence is wounded, but Loco gestures to his gang members to leave the saloon before they can kill anyone.
Twenty five years before Clint Eastwood made his departure from the western genre with his violent, cynical epic "Unforgiven", Sergio Corbucci had already treated us with one of the most dark and unforgiving tales of vengeance violence and that has ever graced the western screen. A forgotten classic that deserves recognition "The Great Silence" is Corbucci's definitive movie, powerful to the point of sadness. It can and it will shock it's viewer, with it's unforgiving nature, and themes.
Set around the snowy landscapes of Utah, "The Great Silence" stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as Silence, a mute gunfighter assisting a group outlaws for and a woman trying to avenge her dead husband. They are faced against a group of bounty hunters, led by Loco (Klaus Kinsky) a ruthless and merciless man who values only the money he gains from the killing.
Corbucci utilizes the snow-filled landscape to the maximum, creating a hauntingly chilling atmosphere that sticks with you from the beginning to the end and most likely, long after you've watched the film. The opening shot demonstrates perfectly the technique employed by Corbucci, with a long shot of Silence as he rides thru the desert of snow, there are no other environmental elements, just him riding calmly forwards accompanied only by a chilling tune from Morricone. This entire moment creates a image so strong so hypnotizing that I found myself re-watching it again and again. It is these moments that make "The Great Silence" great, experiencing the silence before the gunshot and the silence after it, the moments of reckoning, the moments that decide the fates of human beings. I emphasize on "human beings" because the characters here are not only likable but believable and they very much feel like real people, the kind you might like or despise or love or hate. It's not about Silence's skills as a gunfighter, but the human aspect bellow, that is what makes him feel real. None of this would have succeed had it not been for the brilliant acting of the entire cast. Trintignant and Kinsky make the biggest impression though, adding layers of depth to their respective characters without even uttering a word, just their facial expressions, the way the move, the confidence with which they act it is simply brilliant.
Commenting on the final scene would be a downright shame to those who haven't seen the movie just yet. But it is one of the most memorable, no not only memorable it is one of the greatest endings ever shot, with one of the best uses of slow-motion I have ever seen. Slow-motion that captures the darkest, saddest moment, the one thing no one would expect to happen in a western. This further helps to strengthen the major anti-violence theme as the credits begin to roll and the viewer is left to cope with the unexpected finale.
Ennio Morricone serves one of his best scores. I would easily rank this amongst "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" in terms of quality. But it is by no means similar to it. No. We are not soothed by the comfortable music heard in his collaborations with Leone. This score is, haunting and sad, like the movie itself it has an emotional effect on the viewer.
"The Great Silence" is as every bit as good as any of Leone's films. But is also as every bit as different from them. A uniquely dark voyage into the brutal reality of human nature, concealed as a western. Sergio Corbucci died in 1990, his movies weren't remembered by many, but those that did will never forget "The Great Silence".
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