Cento giorni a Palermo (1984) Poster

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A real Hero history.
1felco14 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
More than a movie, this is a document, one of the more realistic and near to the truth ever done about mafia.

SPOILER FOLLOW. It is the real story of Gen. Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa called in Palermo to combat mafia in May 1982 and here killed almost 100 days (or Cento Giorni) after, the 3rd September 1982.

Almost just a year later this movie contributed to re-open the deep wounds mafia make in Italians' conscience. Most complain about the fact there is not any optimism given by director, but that was exactly the feeling in that times in Sicily-Italy. None Italian could watch this movie without being furious on what happened. But this was the reality. Dalla Chiesa was sent without any tool or assistance to fight the mafia, almost like a new Don Quijote versus the windmills. The idea director suggest under the lines that the General's murder was quite welcome from some politicians in Roma, the same that had to help him, is not so strange or far from actuality. Of course director, by doing this, give a political judgment about the fact, but trust me he wasn't so wrong. C.A. Dalla Chiesa was a real Hero.I suggest this movie to people that want to look into recent Italian history and are tired about usual mafia 'pop-corn' movie. Are you ready for reality?
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Anti-Hollywood thriller
Billygoat24 July 2005
This film is interesting for several reasons.

Firstly, it's a decent political thriller. It has none of the flash nor special effects of today's summer blockbusters that are churned out by Hollywood's factories (such as the silly Will Smith "Bad Boys" flicks). No slow motion shots of the hero calmly walking towards the camera while stuff explodes real good behind him. What "Cent jours a Palerme" (French title) has is heart - a gritty, almost documentary feel that makes the violence in the film seem more "real" in a way than anything we've seen in the past several years.

It also features Lino Ventura, one of the greatest actors from the 70's and 80's. Ventura was known for the hardboiled characters he used to play - usually police detectives. (He was a real life tough guy - started out as a wrestler.) The man always has a hard cold look in his eyes that hints at times of a fury hidden within; and other times great sadness. ("Garde a vue" is certainly one of his masterpieces.) In 100 Days in Palermo he plays a retired head of the Italian Federal Police who is sent to Sicily as a Prefect (a political appointed job with power to direct police investigations), for the purpose of taking on the Mafia - following a series of assassinations of judges and prosecutors. He's a man of great integrity and drive, which makes him likable. But he also suffers from some serious flaws, some of which I found maddening. But that also makes him a real person, which added to my appreciation of the character.

Finally, this is one of the last great "anti-Hollywood" flicks with a "realistic" ending. No idiotic happy completion where the good guys win and the bad guys are blown away. In this sense, the film is very much a work from the 70's (even though it was made in the early 80's). Can you imagine a big studio production made nowadays with an ending like the ones in "The Deer Hunter" or "Apocalypse Now"? Not a chance. And this is not to say that this film in any way reaches the heights of the two aforementioned masterpieces - it certainly does not - but I'm simply making a point.

It's not the absolute best of its genre, but nevertheless is well worth viewing, especially if you enjoy the European style political paranoia and pessimism of the 70's.
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Cento Giorni A Palermo-An outstanding example of 'political film' directed by Giuseppe Ferrara.
FilmCriticLalitRao22 September 2013
The names of leading Italian directors namely Matteo Garrone, Marco Tullio Giordana, Francesco Rosi, Gianni Amelio, Elio Petri etc come to mind whenever one thinks of political cinema. By successfully depicting the milieu in which Palermo's mafia has held its sway in Italy, Giuseppe Ferrara has joined this coveted list with his political film '100 days in Palermo'. His film is highly gripping to the core as it makes good use of real life situations to talk about political corruption in Italy which had completely shattered people's trust in democracy. This is one reason why viewer don't lose interest as what is being depicted concerns them both from a political as well as a sociological perspective. Apart from its tough political stances, Cento Giorni A Palermo focuses enormously on its hero's rather tricky personal life which has also become a victim of undue political pressures. It is this proximity to authenticity which lends itself an air of universal appeal as most honest officials anywhere in the world would be compelled to face the same consequences as depicted in this film. Hundred days in Palermo is a highly researched work of art which captures in great detail all the conflicts which made it easy for mafia to rule in Palermo. Lastly, Giuseppe Ferrara has brilliantly questioned two major philosophical notions in his true to 'documentary style' film which depicts one man's relentless fight against corruption. Lastly, it would be in the interests of any good student of political philosophy to discuss whether the state and the government are the same ? and is law merely a form of tool to fight injustice ?
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Mafia movies won't feel the same after
ElMaruecan8214 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
There was a Simpson episode where Burns, said that his medical treatment made him "as powerless as a Nevada boxing commissioner". In French, it was translated to "a judge in Sicily" and the image couldn't have been more evocative.

Indeed, powerlessness despite power, this could be the subtitle Giuseppe Ferrara's gripping "100 Days in Palermo", a film as depressing as it is important. It is depressing because it leaves with you a hopeless sensation, one that there's for once, a force of evil that can't be beaten in its territory: Mafia in Sicily. That feudal system, inherited from times of invasions, but meaningless in post-war modernity and democracy, had time to root its deep ramifications into state matters, so you couldn't possibly know where law ended and Mafia began.

But you could recognize the men who kept on the right side from the blood they shed. And I still have vivid memories of the impact the movie's opening left on me when I saw it at 8 for the first time. There were more deaths and brutal killing in the first 15 minutes than I ever saw in films. I couldn't go on and left the room. But 25 years later, after several viewings, I reckon there are too many deaths, in fact, too many bullets for each death, one two, sometimes three machine guns for one man, not the slightest hope of survival is permitted. And all it takes is to be a judge, a civil servant, a representative, in fact any assignation in Sicily is like a death warrant.

And the man who signs his, is General Carlo Della Chiesa (Lino Ventura), prefect of Sicily for 100 days. The film doesn't leave any mystery, if you don't know from the facts, you guess from the title. Making himself an enemy of the Mafia, there won't be more reasons to spare Della Chiesa than all his ill-fated predecessors, including the Community Deputy Pio La Torre (Lino Troisi) who successfully launched one of the first anti-conspiracy Laws, directly targeting the Mafia in the Sicilian context and was killed in an ambush, along with his driver, as an act of 'vengeance'. I wouldn't call it vendetta because there's no honor in these acts, only terror.

And terror is the reason why even a Communist Deputy would ask the help of military leader. Della Chiese, who had just triumphed over the terrorism in the 70's, and was about to enjoy a much deserved retirement, was obviously –and unfortunately for him- the man of the situation: authoritarian, rational and efficient. At a toast with his men, tension and sadness are palpable, one of the youngest officers dares a "stay with us", the strong-headed General is baffled by such displays of childishness and takes it with humor. He's a man of duty and the perspective of declining a mission is unconceivable, especially when the one who called him, has been killed.

This is a dying breed of men indeed, and a tailor-made role for the great Lino Ventura who naturally oozed authority, plays one of his last great performances to perfection, all in nuance and cold realism, the same realism that makes the film a remarkable police procedural and bureaucratic struggles. And as a natural born leader with an intuitive cognition of the waters he must swim around to achieve his goals. And he knows damn well that money is the sinew of the war and he won't defeat Mafia without weakening their allies: bankers and businessmen. Indeed, the danger don't come from motorbikes and Kalashnikovs, but cigars and suitcases.

Eager to give his crusade a good level of publicity, Della Chiesa eloquently tells a young audience that it's more difficult to fight Mafia than terrorism, because some people live from mafia, and its influence exceeds the limits of Sicily, it's a holistic evil system that transcend class barriers and to fight it is to fight people's fears as well. Does he fear for himself, he's asked? His answer is that he only tries to limit it to himself. And in another conference in front of blue-collar workers, he denies any revolutionary motive as he only tries to fix a situation, one of them asks, with eyes that say "who's being naive?" "and that's not a revolution?"

Even the decent, honest, and well-meaning general won't be able to reform a system built over years of submission, Omerta and the sums of people's fears, and this was only 10 years before Falcone and Borsellino, the judge and the chief of Police, would swell the ranks of Mafia martyrs. Della Chiesa would die 100 days after his tenure, assassinated in the same implacable and savage way with his newly wed wife Emmaniella (Guiliana de Sio), thirty years younger. In a sort of artistic license, Emmanuella could foresee from the newspapers' headlines and the ellipsis after the body count (and not before) that the countdown wasn't over.

"100 Days in Palermo" or the chronicles of a doomed to fail mission, why even make such a film? Because what a man does at his own life's expense is worth a legacy. And the 100 Days spent in Palermo are just as significant as if they had succeeded. And this is why, as depressing as it is, it is also indispensable. Speaking for myself, my favorite movie is "The Godfather" and all these years on IMDb, I've always defended the film against those who accused it was glamorizing or romanticizing gangsters, criminals. The truth is that a movie "100 Days in Palermo" put things in a new perspective.

I know movies like "Godfather" or "Goodfellas" insist that no policeman or civilian can be killed. But we know too well the mob ties with Sicily, where the matters are pretty different there. So ironically, paraphrasing a famous quote, I'd say that a mafia movies hater should keep close to the film, but even closer, a Mafia movie-fan.
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Repetitive ambush movie
Pro Jury1 April 2000
Don't look for too many people to review this movie. It is simply difficult to watch from beginning to end.

Cold, distant, impersonal and repetitive. The most interesting thing about this movie is seeing the assorted guns used. Sadly, they all sound the same when fired. John Woo, this is NOT.
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