Francesco Rosi’s crusading endeavour about the Sicilian bandit Salvatore Giuliano’s story is an outstanding effort of a non-fictional theme which reckons into an intricate structure and its interpretation of events shot in a neo-realist documentary. An implausible flair of non-linear cinematic investigation made in 60’s when radical Italian cinema was at an impasse. Rosi’s extraordinary pictorial conscience cross over the neorealism that limited the everyday life of simple essentials into a revelation of the very prevalent political questions
He is called a conscience of Italian cinema- A Sicilian himself, Rosi’s grip and lenient awareness of the grain of Sicily in its interwoven social and political forces that shaped the career of this bandit. Besides the noxious coalition of the catholic church, the mafia and power centres revolve around is unbelievably restored into an enchanting cinematic visuals of the intense political affairs revealing deceit and corruption during the binding end of World War II until Giuliano’s violent death in 1950 is the theme of the film
This film is produced in the splendour days of long gone neorealism, extent of the craving desire and openness adopted after the liberation from fascism by many Italian movie makers of more subjective cinema unsettled with informal experimentation rebooting the unwavering politics of Italy. In many ways Salvatore Giuliano produces the effect of visual documentations. The film establishes an extensive research into those official court records as well as historic, broadsheet and journalistic reports adjoining the true story. The misperception of these reports and records is preserved by the splintered structure of the film’s storyline and chronicle
The opening of the film is an incidence following the death of Salvatore Giuliano at his compound of Castelventrano, Sicily 1950. The city officials reading the reports of his death (Giuliano is only seen as a corpse). Clearly in an entity for the investigation of how his bullet-riddled body ended up in Palermo’s town square, and who was guilty for the crime is still excluded. This instant of the film is a clueless impression and Rosi’s instinctive method of filmmaking places his audience so close to the thoughtful ploy and ovate into unfolding study not as the appendages of crime, but of a whole way of life surrounding Sicily with the story going in back and forth.
Italy in the transition of WWII defeat is further dented as the separatist groups like MIS and EVIS wage low-level insurrection against the Italian government. Further Allies fortified to keep fascist control alongside the Mafia at bay. This coincide the rise of the Italian Communist Party and also Giuliano’s rise to power when he instigates the gorilla attach on the policemen and prevalence his acceptance among the local peasants. The Communist election victory in 1946 trigger the Portella della Ginestra massacre by Giuliano which kills communist supporters mercilessly
The intention of Giuliano’s communist massacre and his outwardly view of Sicily to be moved away from Italian control is indeed had a conflicting quid. The movie interprets the Italian government used Giuliano to suppress opposition conserving reasonable deniability as they tyrannize the killers. Sicily gains an autonomy in 1947. Giuliano’s greedy bargain with Mafia income continuous and becomes more of a criminal than a rebel, where his followers begin to doubt him.
The audience is ought for the serious twist in forth, Giuliano’s lieutenants are rounded up following his death, the conspiracy deepens and interesting angle of Pisciotta, who happens to be his lieutenant and cousin claims to be in touch with the government authorities for three years along with the Mafia, a pact of convenience that safeguarded the landowners and their interests. This nexus to eliminate Giuliano’s influence triggering to his death.
Entrancingly the omerta code serves both Mafia conceit and authorities in the plot. When all else fails, the eyewitnesses are silenced. Rosi steadily reserves perilous facts. The climax is a sharp cinematic portrait of how sometimes it takes a wrong turn of history’s uncertainties that define the various sources of power linked more often inferred by contrast of image and are laid out with classic clarity.
Yet it’s anything of an emotional empathy towards the class of dirt-poor Sicilians and so as to say using non-professional locals and with his illustrations far-reaching over the mountainous terrain of Sicily is eye catching. The cloaked Giuliano from his enemies in unambiguous black and white stretch is stunningly shot by Gianni Di Venanzo.
Just like in the style that has its roots in neorealism- Rosi builds up an arduous portrait of a range beyond a mesmerizing historical document of a turbulent period in Italian history and politics. Salvatore Giuliano isn’t so much about the title character as it is about his death and impact. The film subtle with its roots in neorealism is scanned delicately and dissect the malignancy at the heart of Italian state power. Giuliano however remains a folklore and nearest we get to a conventional figure is Pisciotta who emerges from the background only as the film reaches its final stretch.
My note will remain unjust without mentioning the screenwriter Franco Solinas, who remain a topmost architect of two important movies of all times Gillo Pontecorvo’s “The Battle of Algiers” and “Salvatore Giuliano.” All we know that The Battle of Algiers accomplished so fiercely to summarise a slice of history and with Rosi, he mastered the tone of an almost impossible balance of imminence and reflection of history not so far. it’s such an exciting piece of filmmaking that you might not realize until the end that its dominant tone is pensive, even melancholic
It’s a nostalgic fervour of what looks like a golden period and Rosi will always be remembered as the master of the ‘cine-investigation’ and an influence on several generations of artists, including the likes of Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Roberto Saviano and Paolo Sorrentino.
- Directed by Francesco Rosi
- Produced by Franco Cristaldi
- Written by Franceso Rosi; Suso Cecchi d’Amico; Enzo Provenzale & Franco Solinas
- Cast: Salvo Randone and Frank Wolff
- Music by Piero Piccioni
- Cinematography: Gianni Di Venanzo
- Edited by Mario Serandrei
- Release year: 1962
- Run time of 123 minutes
- Country: Italy
- Language: Italian