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on 1 November 2011
One reviewer of this film stated that this is what Sergio Leone's films should have been. I assume they were talking about the first two dollars films, because obviously 'The Great Silence' beats them in terms of emotion, plot and themes. However, while the dollars films do contain exagerrated spectacle, character and style, their events are still very much down-to-earth and believable. There's good reason to believe the lives of certain degenerate characters in the real life West were pretty close to how they're portrayed by Leone. The events that take place in 'The Great Silence', however, are over-the-top and clichéd, which seems to be the case with many other Italian westerns outside of Leone's work. Directors just seemed to be attempting to outdo each other in terms of violence and strangeness, and you get a taste of that in 'The Great Silence', with a mute super-fast gun fighter for a hero who always manages to shoot first before his opponents; over-the-top dialogue and themes on romance and revenge; and a plot and a setting trying too hard to promote a world of anarchy and exagerrated violence rather than giving the sense of some civilisation going on in the background, which Leone managed to do.
Nevertheless, it must be remembered that compared to the majority of the spaghetti western genre, 'The Great Silence' comes close to being a masterpiece, and an entertaining one at that. There are some original ideas here such as the mute hero and the snow-bound setting when most spaghetti westerns opted for sweaty desert locations in the manner of Leone. Also, unlike most spaghetti westerns (including the director's other famous western 'Django', which simply opted for general craziness) there is a sense of melancholy and atmosphere reining over the narrative, as the mute hero's services as protector of the outlaws hiding in the Utah mountains are hired by a widow to avenge the death of her husband at the hands of Klaus Kinski's portrayal of the sadistic villain.
It was the ending which won this film for me, which took me completely by surprise and defies all clichés. Personally, I feel 'Keoma' did a better job as a spaghetti western set in mountainous scenery with over-the-top violence and a sense of melancholy. Nevertheless, I have only watched 'the Great Silence' once, so don't take my judgements to heart!
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on 26 November 2009
This is one of the finest spaghetti westerns, although it's not as well known as Sergio Leone's work or Corbucci's other classic Django. The reason is perhaps that morally it's too complex for mass appeal as we viewers, especially in westerns, prefer to know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, then cheer as the bad guys go down in a hail of lead.

In the unusual setting of a snow-bound winter (there's a traditional view that snowy westerns aren't as popular as sweaty ones) the townsfolk of Snowhill are suffering. With food scarce they revert to stealing to eat. Ruthless bounty hunters are called in to bring them to justice. When the nastiest hunter Loco shoots up an innocent man, the dead man's wife hires Silence, a mute gunslinger, to kill Loco...

This film is a brutal masterpiece with a level of violence that few movies could equal, and yet there is subtlety with clever scripting and good performances, most notably from Klaus Kinski in a particularly nasty role even for him. Throughout, the story blurs the traditional depiction of right and wrong. Spaghetti westerns became popular by having anti-heroes who act as viciously as the bad guys. But this film goes further. The good guys are outlaws, forced to steal through hunger, and the bad guys are bounty hunters, motivated by personal gain only. Even the law is depicted as being ineffective and ill-thought out, exploring in a way few other westerns have the dubious principle that killing a man can be justified as self-defence only when the other guy goes for his gun first.

This twisted morality clearly has a subtext, and pleasingly the film doesn't preach it and nor does it provide an answer, leaving it to the viewer to interpret for themselves what it says about life during this time of expansion, and now. That aside, ultimately the film's immortality comes from its ending, which I won't describe to avoid spoilers, other than to say it's memorable and one that works because so few other films have done it. If you like westerns, this is a must see film. Just don't expect Shane.
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on 28 December 2013
The film is very impressive because of 3 things - atmosphere of frozen winter world where violence rules, great actors - Jean Louis Tretignant and Klaus Kinski who could create 3D images of their heros even without speaking, unpredictable development of the events and unpredicatable ending. Add to this the music by Ennio Morricone.
Sergio Corbucci creates the image of society opressed by social elite. The director is mixing the language of the Westerns with the images taken from Renaissance art and stories by Jack London - and the result is stunning. If you want to see something more simple and more dynamic comparing with Sergio Leone's works i.o. if you are prefering entertaiment most of all - that's not the case.
If you want to see the film to think about yourself, about society, about world created by the director (and this world is realistic and fantastic in the same time) - you would like it. You could return to this film many times.
P.S. The Great Silence should be restored much better.
On this DVD you could also see alternative ending which could completely destroy the film.
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on 30 May 2013
Spoilers to follow........

A great film, one of those spaghettis that take the western out of its traditional sunbaked desert towns and instead gives us snow, snow snd more snow. Klaus Kinski is chilling (no pun intended) as the villain of the piece, looking more like a character from a horror movie than a western baddie.

A big influence on many of Clint Eastwood's later American filmed westerns, shown by whole chunks of The Great Silence showing up in Hang 'Em High, Joe Kidd and Unforgiven, this is a film whose dark ending as stopped it being seen as a classic for many years, something this DVD release will hopefully put right.

Not being a Masters Of Cinema release from Eureka, we don't get the traditional well informed booklet, but the film does come with the "alternate" happy ending, although clearly in unfinished form.

So this review must finish with the obvious spoiler relating to this film, the bad guys win.......
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on 25 December 2012
Silence is a mute gunfighter with a sense for justice. He is hired by a woman whose husband has been killed to take revenge on Loco, one of the bounty hunters hired to hunt down homeless poor men around Snow Hill. Silence however only kills in self defence and with Loco refusing to draw first things are a lot more complicated.

This is prohaps the greatest Spaghetti Western ever made and on a pare with Sergio Leone's 'For a Few Dollars More' and 'Once Upon a time in the West.

I read that the original role of Silence was meant to go to Franco Nero and even though I'm a big fan of his but I actually think that know one could've played the role better than the man it went to, French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant. The villain was played by Spaghetti Western regular Klaus Kinski who is at his menacing best as the cruel sadistic Loco. American actor Frank Wolff also turns up this time as a good guy in honourable sheriff Burnett who tries to keep law and order.

Sergio Corbucci's direction is faultless and with its great snowy landscapes are amazing and add a ghostly atmosphere to the film which strangely suits the Silence character. As I know most people will have heard about the sad down beating ending but all I can say is it is the best and the most perfect way to end this stunning film.

Ennio Morricone's music is suiting and very powerful.

Overall, what do you get when you have a French hero, a German villain and a Italian director? A amazing unforgettable masterpiece.
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on 13 June 2013
Had been waiting to pick up the reommended issue of this at the right price. Did not disappoint. It is a complete classic. This is an extraordinary Western.

I premiered this with both the dubbed English and the English subtitles. Interesting to compare the differing translation. Look forward to trying them one at a time. Who knows? this looks a good candidate for Mamet's quote "A good film script should be able to do completely without dialogue"
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on 23 November 2012
First off this is an incredibly well shot film. Ennio Morricone's harrowing track accompanies it well, almost haunting the screen with it's melody and accompaniment to the main character- who goes by the name Silence. The story involves bounty hunter- Silence- as he roams the snowy plains, it's very samurai in the way it is, Silence and the other bounty hunters acting like disgruntled ronin who just want to survive in a harsh world. He's hired to protect a young woman who offers herself to him, won't go into too much detail regarding this, but it did remind me of the first Vampire Hunter D animated film, when the young girl offers herself to Hunter D. Another great feature of this film of course is Klaus Kinski who is a force of enigmatic evil all on his own- he stars as the films villain, or protagonist I think would be better to call him, because in all honesty there doesn't feel too much of a definition of good and evil in this, just suffering, might, and death. I saw another review call this a nihilistic western and thats very true, this is a gritty film and full of brooding melancholy, I suggest it for spag western fans and generally for people who love great cinema.
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VINE VOICEon 16 January 2014
This movie is a classic - suspenseful western in an unusual setting. I love this movie and am pleased that the DVD transfer is spot on
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on 9 July 2011
I watched 5 spaghetti westerns over a weekend and this was the best. The snow covered scenery works well with the story. I expected more from the sheriff in the film but his character did not seem to develop as it could. The voice over of Klaus Kinski was chilling whilst Trintignant never had to speak - he played a mute gunslinger. Film explores the reality of the law and how it is applied in a corrupt wilderness. As a result, it is difficult to work out who are the good guys - those murderously applying the law to the letter, or those seeking to uphold the spirit of the law.

Plenty of violence, evil men, honest men, a bit of love interest, a good music score, and, unusually, a moral tale told without rushing. Great viewing.
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on 7 August 2007
The most worthy of Corbuccis Leone rip-offs . Bad dialogue and sometimes clunky direction can be easly overlooked when you consider the overall feel and tone of this fascinating piece . This one truly stands alone in the western genre . And rightly so . Even Leone or any of his other numerous imitatiors never came close to a plot like this . The ending is so downbeat that its producers orderd a whole new ending for distribution to certain countries!!!Guess Where!!
This DVD contains the original unbowdlerized version in its enhanced widescreen format and contains the Totally Daft re-shot ending as DVD extra .
Never has a re-shoot been so unbelievably , comically bad . It compares to the worst carry-on scenario you will ever see .
Mind Boggling .
The original ending of this film set a precedent which,in my opionion,has not yet been equalled.Downbeat.Cynical.Horrible.But a true end to a unique story......peace to y'all
markac
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