Salvatore Giuliano – Francesco Rosi (1962)

“The trailer for Salvatore Giuliano (1962) begins with a town crier walking down a Sicilian street, banging a drum. This is followed by a group of men distributed across the town square, one playing a Jew’s harp. The crier is proclaiming a military curfew, but could as easily be announcing a new show in town. The men are outlaws, preparing to kill, but might be players in a musical performance or dance. The subsequent killing – gunfire flashing through the darkness – is pure son et lumière. These nocturnal scenes lit by street lights have a stage-like quality, and are representative of a motif that runs through Salvatore Giuliano. Crowds are frequently shown looking on at events from the streets or their balconies. The second half of this broken-backed film takes place mostly in a courtroom. This is Rosi’s only use of a soundstage in a film that prides itself on location shooting in the very place the ‘real’ events it narrates took place; it is dominated by the only two professional actors in the cast; the artifice of its illumination is in marked contrast to the sun-bleached natural lighting outside. Rather than create black and white heroes and villains, Rosi’s film famously exposes the complicity of police, army, business and the Mafia with Giuliano and his gang. But in other ways, Salvatore Giuliano is pure melodrama. The narrative’s two key events – the 1947 May Day parade at Portella della Ginestra, where a crowd of Communists, men, women and children, is massacred; and Giuliano’s death – are heavily underlined by Piero Piccioni’s ominous, rhythmic, brass-heavy music, sparsely used elsewhere on a soundtrack that prefers the distant sounds of farm animals, the screech of cars and the staccato rhythm of gunfire. Rosi fearlessly employs the jolts of melodrama – from long silence to sudden noise, impassivity to extremes of emotion; the unsignalled shifts between ‘present’ and ‘past’ – to disorient the viewer. …”
senses of cinema
W – Salvatore Giuliano
W – Francesco Rosi
Guardian: Salvatore Giuliano No 98
YouTube: Salvatore Giuliano – Trailer

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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