09Mar12 – 6 – Salvatore Giuliano (Francesco Rosi: 1962)
I think I have to accept as fact that Francesco Rosi’s SALVATORE GIULIANO (1962) made a huge impact on its release 50 years ago, but speaking as someone who’s neither knowledgeable about nor particularly interested in immediate post-WWII era Sicilian politics and Mafia history I found myself totally at sea for much of the movie. It’s an odd kind of docudrama that doesn’t narrate a story so much as present evidence through flashbacks, court testimony, newspaper headlines, etc., about the the title character’s involvement in the massacre of Communists at a May Day rally.
Salvatore Giuliano, who’s present only as a corpse, was the ruthless (or so we’re told) leader of a band of outlaws with ties of various kinds to Sicilian nationalists, the police, the Mafia, and the carabinieri, but the truth of those ties, and the inquiry into his and his band of outlaws’ and recruited peasants’ involvement in the massacre, are frustrated at every step by obfuscation, deceit, ignorance, and our old pal omertà. And all of this is framed by who killed Giuliano and why (which are ruled irrelevant to the inquiry). I wish I could say the movie is gripping, but what I can say is that I was never bored, and the movie is absolutely gorgeously shot (the cinematographer also shot 8 1/2 and JULIET OF THE SPIRITS). I’ll leave it to the experts to trace this movie’s acknowledged influence on Coppola, Scorcese and others. 6/10. [3/9/12]