Grande silenzio, Il [1968]

One of the best and most unusual spaghetti Westerns ever made, Sergio Corbucci's The Great Silence is set in the beautiful desolation of the snow-covered high plains. Jean-Louis Trintignant, the romantic French star of My Night at Maud's and A Man and a Woman, hardens his blue eyes into a steely stare to play the mute mercenary gunslinger "Silence." Klaus Kinski (star of Werner Herzog's Aguirre: The Wrath of God and Nosferatu the Vampyre) is his target, a grinning, amiable bounty killer whose deadly logic leaves a trail of corpses in his wake, all murdered "according to the law." Corbucci, whose Django is a genre classics, complicates his trademark cynicism with the compelling contradictions of his hero and villain, and the chilly atmosphere of the frozen mountain community brings a new twist to the phrase cold-blooded murder. Cult director Alex Cox (Repo Man) calls The Great Silence "the greatest spaghetti Western ever made" in a six-minute video interview, in which he explains his love for the film in an insightful monologue. Cox also provides optional commentary on the alternate happy ending (which otherwise plays without sound), an unusual find that was likely shot for Asian territories. --Sean Axmaker

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