Directed by Francesco Rosi
In Italian with English subtitles
- A lawyer: "Murder, kidnapping and blackmail--now it all becomes political."
- Gaspare Pisciotta, Giuliano's right-hand man: "I collaborated with the police. We were all informants. Outlaws, police and the Mafia--they were an unholy trinity."
Best movie I've seen in quite a while. Somewhat like a Sicilian Rashomon, Rosi's penetrating inquiry into the July 1950 slaying of the notorious bandit/freedom fighter Salvatore Giuliano delights in posing more questions than it ever seems willing to answer. Sporting multiple points of view in a documentary-like style enlivened by nods to neorealism, film noir, and the courtroom drama, the film provocatively uses the main question about Giuliano's death only as a launch pad to move on to the larger truths and ambiguities beyond the mystery of who killed him. Shifting back and forth in time to throw light on Giuliano's background as a black marketeer, Sicilian separatist, and career criminal beloved by some for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, Rosi uses an arresting non-linear narrative to craft both a biography of a phantom and a vision of a postwar Sicily fought over by rival factions.While the whodunit aspects of Rosi's work would be interesting enough in themselves, the visuals here are at least equally impressive. Shot entirely in and around Giuliano's "kingdom" of Montelepre and surrounding towns, the rocky Sicilian landscapes make it easy to understand the otherness of the island in relation to mainland Italy (shades of Di Lampedusa's The Leopard). Local actors, almost entirely non-professionals except for those in two key roles, also lend a certain gravitas to the us vs. them tensions between the small town Sicilians who supported Giuliano and the carabinieri from the north assigned to hunt him down. In one scene, a patriot gives an impromptu speech about Sicily and freedom after being inspired by the scenery in front of him. In another, a machine gun battle at night takes place with the only source of lighting being flashes of erupting gunfire. With consummate artistry and unusual restraint, Rosi laudably leaves it up to the spectator to decide if these are competing views of Sicily or just another sign of the disintegration of Sicilian culture also evident in Salvatore Giuliano's "betrayal." A tour de force. Rating: 5/5 stars. (http://www.criterion.com/)