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Great Silence back to product details

More than just a famous ending
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written by HChang May 20, 2007 - 5:31 PM PDT
Since "Great Silence" is famous for its ending, I shall begin there. I hate it. But it's not because the movie left me dissatisfied. Rather, it's because of the message it left behind - the painful truth about human nature. Perhaps this is why some are disturbed or even distraught by the finale because many of us watch movies to escape reality. Instead, Corbucci chose to remind us of it.

Circa late 1800s. The events of "Great Silence" take place in Snow Hill, Utah. Silence, wonderfully portrayed by Jean-Louis Trintignant, is a serious gunman who can draw his gun quicker than anyone else. His trademark: provoke the party he's been hired to kill to draw first so his killing would be deemed self-defense. Silence is hired by Pauline (Vonetta McGee) to avenge her husband's killing by the notorious bounty hunter, Loco (Klaus Kinski). Loco and fellow bounty hunters have taken up residence in Snow Hill so they can hunt a band of outlaws hiding out in the woods nearby. It's easy money - for each outlaw, dead or alive, there's a reward of $1,000. The bounty hunters are always merciless. They have the support of the local banker who needlessly fears the outlaws would come and rob him. Snow Hill sees a new sheriff (Frank Wolff), appointed by the governor, to instill some civilization into the Wild West. The governor has plans to pardon the outlaws who are merely a bunch of harmless, hungry men. But even the new sheriff is no match for Loco's deviously scheming mind. The bounty hunters only have one objective - kill the outlaws and collect the reward. The only man standing in their way is Silence, and Loco knows he's no match for Silence.

The opening scene is absolutely stunning. A lone horseman on a screen filled with deep, white snow. The scene pans and fills with the mountains in the backdrop, and at the same time, the music follows, as if in unison with the camera. Amazing what Corbucci could do with the equipments he had back in the 1960s.

I usually refrain from commenting on other reviews but I feel some clarification is in order because I approached this movie with trepidation after reading the reviews here. First, I disagree with the synopsis that Corbucci clearly sympathized with the bandit heroes. The evil characters come across as a greedy lot, entirely despicable. I didn't feel a shred of sympathy for them throughout the entire movie, and I believe that is what Corbucci intended despite the famous ending. Second, the sheriff is a good guy. Third, while I prefer original soundtracks, the fact that Great Silence is only available dubbed did not affect my enjoyment of the movie or the message it conveyed. Bad dubbing consists of cut-off music when characters resume conversation, lips that hardly match spoken words, and a feeling of an extra layer to the movie. It's true spoken words sometimes did not match the lips but this certainly wasn't enough to distract me. What amazes me is the power this movie has over its audience so many years after its release. Even if you prefer original soundtracks, this movie is definitely worth watching.

sometimes excellent and sometimes not
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written by fred3f October 18, 2006 - 8:55 PM PDT
1 out of 3 members found this review helpful
The film is engaging, has some excellent visuals and plot twists. It has some interesting sub texts of the people rising against oppressors and racial themes. Someone here has said that these themes were too hot for American audiences. While it is fashionable to say such things, I would disagree. The themes themselves are relevant to America, but the way they are delivered is very European way and so they do not resonate most American audiences. Revolution in America is mainly accomplished through voting or through the legal system. This shows the typically European view that these voting and justice do not work and that killing the oppressors is the only way. Despite the general belief that Americans are very violent people, they are not as socially violent as the Europeans and so the sub text did not resonate.

The dubbing is poor and this gives an air of unreality to the film. In the film industry, Sound is considered by many professionals to be the most important element of a film and here it is a determent rather than an enhancement. Subtitles would have been better.

The ending is shocking, uncompromising and truly brave. I respect the director for filming it. However, it leaves you very deflated and depressed.

I have a great deal of respect for the director and this film but I did not enjoy watching it. The film has many strong points, but it also has some very strong weaknesses. Overall the experience was unpleasant and disappointing. Because of that, I would not see it again or recommend it. Because of its strong points, it may be useful to student film makers, but people who watch movies for insight or for pleasure will probably not like it.

Dubbing -- the least important aspect of a film.
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written by dmacewen May 8, 2006 - 12:56 PM PDT
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
There's little I can add to the well-earned praise this film has garnered except to defend the acting. I'm sick and tired of genre fans applying mainstream Hollywood standards of acting and sound-recording to foreign/exploitation films where such standards do not belong. Why these fans have bought into the imperialist line about what is proper and correct baffles me. I find it incredible that most viewers can watch a mainstream film like Phantom Menace and never for a second realize that the performances and vocalizations are God-awful. In short: BAD DUBBING CANNOT "KILL" A GREAT MOVIE.

Now rent this film.

nothing will kill a film like bad dubbing
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written by saveyourservant October 7, 2003 - 2:01 PM PDT
4 out of 5 members found this review helpful
Corbucci's bleak and snowy western has amazing visuals that are much better than Django's. The gunfighters wrapped up in furs, scarves, and long coats are unlike most of the genre. There are some interesting characters, particularly the new sheriff, who seems to be a bungling idiot at times and a strongarm lawman the next. But the film is absolutely slain by the typical hatchet job English dub, for which there is no escape, as I searched desperately for any subtitled option. Even though the film is set in Utah, every character is portrayed with a wretched southern drawl. This effectively kills much of the performances although simply watching Kinski's expressions is still compelling.

I was about to dismiss the film entirely, but you have to witness the amazingly bleak ending in which that which you would least expect from this type of film is exactly what happens. It is perhaps one of the most ironically unhappy endings I've seen and this alone makes the film worth a look.

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(Average 8.04)
72 Votes
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