Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: The Sicilian

Already see the pattern? Again an interesting, but flawed film. This time it's Michael Cimino's The Sicilian, one of his last big films before a many years' hiatus. This is a very handsome, but pretty confusing film, with a too convoluted storyline about Salvatore Giuliano, a Sicilian rebel who fights the local aristocracy over the lands and steps on the toes of the Mafia.

Gore Vidal supposedly wrote the script for this, but Steve Shagan rewrote it either too heavily or too lightly. There's too much stuff that doesn't make much sense. The theme of an innocent man getting mixed in the web of politics and corruption and getting corrupted himself is always interesting, though. One would like to compare this to the earlier Italian version, Salvatore Giuliano, directed by Leftist Francesco Rosi, but I haven't seen that myself. The biggest drawback in Cimino's film is that it stars Christopher Lambert. The guy is very handsome, but can't act shit. Joss Ackland steals every scene he's in. I'd hoped John Turturro would've been given a better role as Giuliano's brother. Same goes for Terence Stamp, whose prince doesn't have a lot to do, even though I'd like to think Cimino would've liked to deal with him more. The larger social themes don't much show here.

I watched this (this too!) on VHS, but luckily the version I'd found was the director's version that lasts 2:11 or something like that. This supposedly makes more sense than the original version shown in cinema (I'd seen that and even written a review of it, but can't remember much of it). Cimino's original edit is said to have been 150 minutes. Seems like a pattern for Cimino.

More Overlooked Films at Todd Mason's blog.


Cullen Gallagher said...

I didn't know Cimino made a movie about Salvatore Giuliano. I've seen the Rosi film, though that was years ago and my memories are vague, but as I recall it was a pretty good movie.

Both of these back-to-back would make a cool double feature!

Juri said...

Yeah, Rosi's film has a pretty good reputation. It's one of the politically Leftist movies made in the aftermaths of the original neoralist movement. I may have seen it, since I remember Finnish TV showing a series of Rosi's films in the late eighties.

Cullen Gallagher said...

I liked the other Rosi films I saw, too: Three Brothers and Christ Stopped at Eboli. I know I saw Carmen in middle school music class, but I barely remember it. Brooklyn Academy of Music just had a retrospective of his work, but I had to miss it all because of work. Bummed, as there were a bunch of rare movies that aren't on video, too.

Juri said...

You might like his first. I forget the title, but it's about a bullfighter (IIRC, at least a fighter of some sort). Very documentarish.