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The Great Silence

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In the winter of 1898, a silent gunfighter protects a young widow and a gang of outlaws from a gang of bounty murderers, and a bleak, tense conflict ensues.

Sergio Corbucci directed and co-wrote the 1968 revisionist Spaghetti Western film The Great Silence (Il grande silenzio). Jean-Louis Trintignant, Klaus Kinski, Vonetta McGee, and Frank Wolff appear in the Italian-French co-production, with Luigi Pistilli, Mario Brega, Marisa Merlini, and Carlo D’Angelo in supporting parts.

The storyline of the film, conceived by Corbucci as a politically charged allegory inspired by the murders of Che Guevara and Malcolm X, takes place in Utah prior to the Great Blizzard of 1899. It confronts a mute gunslinger (Trintignant) defending a band of outlaws and an angry young widow (McGee) against a band of merciless bounty hunters commanded by “Loco” (Kinski) and the corrupt banker Henry Pollicut (Pistilli). Unlike other films in the genre, which were shot in Spain’s Almera region to double for locations such as Texas and Mexico, The Great Silence was shot mostly in the Italian Dolomites.

Following many theatrical re-releases, most notably in 2012 and 2017, The Great Silence is now widely considered by fans and experts on Spaghetti Westerns as one of the genre’s best films, and is regarded as Corbucci’s masterpiece. The performances, the use of snowbound settings, Ennio Morricone‘s soundtrack, and the film’s inversion of various Western cinema traditions have all received praise. Retrospective reviewers and researchers of Corbucci’s Westerns consider The Great Silence to be the second installment of the director’s “Mud and Blood” trilogy, which also includes Django (1966) and The Specialists (1967).

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