Friday 26 January 2024

Salvatore Giuliano [1962]

 In the annals of landmark political filmmaking, Salvatore Guiliano – the scintillating film that established Marxist and post-neorealist filmmaker Francesco Rosi as one of the most electrifying voices of post-War Italian cinema – remains a work of piercing analytic brilliance, formal bravura and blazing ferocity. Having earlier assisted Visconti on La Terra Trema and Senso, he combined visceral realism, remarkably dialectical approach, and uncompromising diagnosis of historical artefacts into a thrilling piece of investigative journalism that provided a scalding examination of the rotten state of affairs perpetuated by the government, army, police, Mafiosi, feudal class and law – foregrounded in Sicily’s gritty sociopolitical landscape – that first led to the titular outlaw’s phenomenal rise in power and popularity, and thereafter the massive manhunts that eventually led to his death and posthumous trial. Instead of a classical approach, Rosi adopted a dazzling multi-perspective form – reminiscent of Citizen Kane, Rashomon and Peruvian writer Llosa’s magnificent novel The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta – for a powerful inquiry into corruption, complicity and expediency, and in turn deconstruction of the Sicilian bandit’s life, death and myth. Rosi crafted this complex, clinical and non-linear mosaic, and forensic diagnosis, with a mostly non-professional cast – as desperado, partisan, hired-hand, fugitive – and filmed in the same locations where Guiliano’s meteoric persona unfolded, through magnetic B/W palettes that evoked a striking sense of here-and-now. In a fascinating artistic choice, we hardly ever see Giuliano; yet, the enigmatic desperado’s shadowy presence pervaded every episode, including his enlisting for Sicily’s secessionist ambitions, his repute among the poor for his antagonistic persona vis-à-vis the oppressive carabiniere, his noxious participation in the massacre of Sicilian communists, and the power structure’s turbid, tangled and malleable links to him.

Director: Francesco Rosi

Genre: Drama/Historical Drama/Biopic/Docudrama

Language: Italian

Country: Italy

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