lonely figure rides though the snow, watching him are bounty-hunters;
stopping, he watches for a moment and before they have a chance to
shoot, all the bounty hunters are dead. A band of outlaws is hiding in
the forests each with a bounty on their heads, unable to reach food
they called in the victorious gunman, Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant)
a mute killer of bounty hunters. In and around the town of Snow Hill,
Utah, there are dozens of bounty hunters going after the outlaws, in
particular the vicious Tigrero (Klaus Kinski). The state governor plans
an amnesty on the outlaws to put an end to the bounty-hunter trade, and
sends Sheriff Burnett (Frank Wolff) to the town to keep the peace until
then. The angry widow of one of Tigrero's victims calls on Silence to
kill him and Burnett has to contend with two killers in town trying to
lure their opponent into making a mistake...
The Great Silence
is undoubtedly one of the very best films in the Spaghetti Western
cycle. Co-written by Sergio Corbucci himself, it harks back to the
director's iconic Django
(1966) in the way that it twists the genre to offer a completely unique
experience. The storyline is slowly paced and offers very little
gunplay or action throughout its runtime, prefering instead to build up
the main three characters and the background storyline. The storyline
is not completely effective, the character of Pollicut could certainly
use a little more explanation while the revenge storyline added by the
flashbacks could be considered rather unnecessary to the plot. The tone
throughout is grim and bordering on purely nihilistic, only a couple of
very brief moments could rank as lighthearted and their comedy is
certainly dark, the infamous climax and ending really fit in with the
As with the storyline, Corbucci has returned to the visual style of Django
(1966), shooting in a 1.66:1 frame that gives the film a much closer
and more personal feel than the typical scope widescreen westerns. From
the opening shot The Great Silence is entirely snow-bound and like the muddy setting of Django
(1966) it twists the accepted genre convention of sandy plains and
dusty hills. Corbucci's strong direction serves the film well, and
several of his trademarks are visible - in particular the furious
close-up work during gun-fights and profile shots of the 'hero'. The
intense soundtrack is credited to Ennio Morricone, although parts of it certainly sound
like they were composed by his partner Bruno Nicholai, the music fits
the film very well and in keeping with the dark tone of the
production it eschews the jolly songs that accompanied most Spaghetti
Westerns in favour of an orchestral score that helps to build
Kinski was notoriously hard to work with and often found himself cast
in minor roles - here he gets a rare chance to play a major
character and gives a standout performance as the villaneous
Tigrero. In his only Western appearance, French
actor Jean-Louis Trintignant is an odd casting as Silence but plays the
role very well, managing to convey a menacing presence and a strong
anti-heroic air. The tragic Frank Wolff plays the well-meaning sheriff
and the rest of the cast are familiar faces with plenty of veteran
euro-cinema supporting actors.
Uniquely grim and nihilistic, The Great Silence
was often immitated but never bettered and ranks as one of the true
masterworks of the Spaghetti Western and Euro-cult cinema in general.
It comes highly recommended to fans and newcomers to the Spaghetti
Western and is a must see film for any fans of Klaus Kinski or Sergio
Anyone famous in it?
Klaus Kinski - The legendary German actor who starred in over 100 cult films including Venus in Furs (1969) Frank Wolff - An American actor who made his name in Italian cinema from Westerns to Crime films. Jean-Louis Trintignant - A star of numerous art-house films including A Man and a Woman (1966)
Highly recommened to fans of the Spaghetti Westerns, Klaus Kinski or Sergio Corbucci.
1.66:1 non-anamorphic wide-screen. Colour. The
print quality varies throughout (see images above), there is minimal
grain or print damage but colour and detail levels vary. Never
English and Italian tracks - mono. Both tracks sound fine although the English has more hiss.
English Note: English titles translate the Italian soundtrack.
Main feature - 1hr 41m 00s
The disc includes:
Alternate ending to the film, good PQ but no audio (1m 53s)
Original Trailer. VHS print quality (3m 37s)
Region 0 (UK) - PAL
Various releases of this film: American Image/Fantoma DVD includes commentary for the alternate ending and liner notes, but no Italian audio track. French and German DVDs have more features, but no English options.
The film is believed to be fully uncut. Print used is Italian, with Italian language credits and title.
An impressive film with a decent storyline, a distinctive setting, plus strong direction and music. Highly recommended.
A good, but imperfect print
with fewer extras than some other releases, but inclusion of Italian
track is a bonus over the USA disc.
Note: There is interesting behind-the-scenes footage from this film in the documentary Westerns Italian Style which can be found on the Blue Underground USA Run, Man, Run DVD or the Koch Media Germany Spara, Gringo, Spara DVD.