The Great Silence

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The Great Silence (Italian: Il grande silenzio), also known by its UK broadcast title The Big Silence, is a 1968 revisionist Spaghetti Western film directed and co-written by Sergio Corbucci. An Italian-French co-production, the film stars Jean-Louis Trintignant, Klaus Kinski and Vonetta McGee (in her film début) alongside Frank Wolff, Luigi Pistilli, Mario Brega and Marisa Merlini. Conceived by Corbucci as a politically-charged allegory inspired by the deaths of Ernesto "Che" Guevara and Malcolm X, the film's plot takes place in Utah prior to the Great Blizzard of 1899. It pits a mute gunslinger (Trintignant), fighting in the defence of a group of outlaws and a vengeful young widow (McGee), against a group of ruthless bounty killers led by the psychotic "Loco" (Kinski) and the corrupt banker Henry Pollicut (Pistilli). Unlike most films of the genre, which were filmed in the Almería province of Spain to double for areas such as Texas and Mexico, The Great Silence was filmed on location primarily in the Italian Dolomites. Distributed in Italy and various international markets by 20th Century Fox and its subsidiaries, The Great Silence only proved to be a modest financial success in the countries it played in. The film was withheld from release in the United States until 2001, when it was made available on DVD by Fantoma Films and Image Entertainment. Controversial for its bleak and dark tone, the film's reputation grew, and it gained a cult following in the wake of its release. The Great Silence is now widely regarded by fans and authorities on Spaghetti Westerns as one of the greatest films of the genre, and is acknowledged as Corbucci's masterpiece. Praise has gone to the performances of Trintignant, Kinski, McGee, Wolff and Pistilli, as well as the film's use of its snow-bound landscape, the soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, the ending, and its subversion of various conventions of the Western film genre.
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