Watch Salvatore Giuliano
- 2 hr 3 min
Salvatore Giuliano is an Italian film from 1962 that tells the story of the eponymous Sicilian bandit who was active in the years following World War II. Directed by Francesco Rosi, the movie was a critical and commercial success, winning the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and earning praise for its innovative storytelling techniques and political commentary.
The film opens with the discovery of Giuliano's body, riddled with bullets, in the Sicilian countryside. From there, the narrative jumps backwards and forwards in time, exploring the events that led up to Giuliano's death and the complex web of political and criminal alliances that surrounded him.
At the heart of the film is the character of Salvatore Giuliano himself, played with ferocity and intensity by Frank Wolff. Born into poverty in the small town of Montelepre, Giuliano quickly became involved in the world of smuggling and banditry that dominated life in post-war Sicily. Over time, he became a legend, a Robin Hood figure who fought against the corrupt and oppressive forces of the Italian state.
Despite his reputation as a folk hero, however, Giuliano was far from a simple figure. As the film shows, he was a master of political maneuvering, using his influence to forge alliances with politicians and businessmen in order to advance his own interests. At the same time, he was ruthless with those who crossed him, ordering the execution of both rival bandits and innocent civilians who stood in his way.
As Giuliano's story unfolds, the film explores the complex web of relationships that surrounded him. There are the politicians who use him for their own ends, and the police who are both terrified of him and desperate to capture him. There are the peasants who revere him as a hero, and the wealthy landowners who seek to exploit him for their own purposes. And there are the members of his own gang, each with their own agenda and their own ambitions.
One of the most striking things about Salvatore Giuliano is the way it tells its story. Rather than presenting a straightforward narrative, the film jumps back and forth in time, showing events from different perspectives and using a variety of techniques to create a sense of disorientation and confusion. At times, the film is almost dreamlike, with scenes blending into each other and the boundaries between reality and fantasy becoming blurred.
This approach serves to highlight the complexity of the story being told. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that there are no easy answers or simple explanations for what is happening. Everyone is complicit in the violence and corruption that surrounds them, and everyone is motivated by their own self-interest. In this world, there are no heroes or villains, only people struggling to survive in a harsh and unforgiving environment.
Despite its dark subject matter, Salvatore Giuliano is a beautiful film to look at. Shot in stark black and white, it showcases the rugged beauty of the Sicilian landscape and the gritty reality of life in the poverty-stricken towns and villages. The camera work is often virtuosic, with long tracking shots and complex set pieces that create a real sense of momentum and energy.
Ultimately, Salvatore Giuliano is a powerful and thought-provoking film that rewards multiple viewings. It is a meditation on the nature of power, the corrupting influence of violence, and the struggle for survival in a world where justice and morality are in short supply. It is a testament to the vision and skill of director Francesco Rosi, and to the incredible performances of its talented cast. For anyone interested in the history and culture of Italy, or the art of filmmaking itself, it is an essential viewing.