From Eureka Entertainment comes the first-ever Blu-ray release in the UK of Sergio Corbucci’s 1968 revisionist Spaghetti Western, The Great Silence, as part of The Masters of Cinema Series.
The year is 1898, the year of the Great Blizzard, and a group of outlaws are hiding out in the mountains of Snow Hill, Utah after corrupt banker Henry Pollicut (Luigi Pistilli) puts a price on their heads. Now they are being hunted down and killed by a gang of bounty hunters led by the determined, yet vicious Loco (Klaus Kinski).
The outlaws hire Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a mute gunfighter, who kills his targets – always in self-defence – for a price. When Loco murders outlaw James Middleton, his widow Pauline (Vonetta McGee) offers Silence $1,000 to avenge her husband’s death, which sets him on his own path of personal revenge.
Corbucci’s bleak, brilliant and violent vision of an immoral, honour-less West, is widely considered to be among the best and most influential Westerns ever made. The second in his ‘Mud and Blood’ trilogy, which also includes Django (1966) and The Specialists (1969), it is also the Italian director’s Western masterpiece.
But it has taken decades since the film’s release to be regarded so – mainly due to its bleak and pessimistic tone and the devastating climax (spoiler alert: Loco wins big time) which resulted in the producers insisting on Corbucci filming a ‘happy ending’.
This version played well in Middle Eastern countries, while the original version did mediocre business throughout Europe, and never played in the UK until 1990 (as part of Alex Cox’s Moviedrome) and 2001 in the US. It’s only since its theatrical re-release in 2012 and 2017 that the film has attracted renewed interest – mainly over how Corbucci brilliantly subverts Western genre conventions and adds his own political subtext under the surface.
This Masters of Cinema Series features a 2K restoration print on Blu-ray and it’s a terrific way to see Corbucci’s masterpiece. Boasting terrific turns from Kinski (at his most restrained here), Trintignant (whose character was made mute because he had no command of English) and McGee (in a breakout debut that set her on the path to blaxploitation success); stunning landscapes (with Cortina d’Ampezzo, Veneto and San Cassiano in Badia, South Tyrol standing in for Utah); and Ennio Morricone’s lush, melancholic score (which he regarded as his personal favourite) conducted by Bruno Nicolai, you are in for a wild ride. There’s also a host of extras to savour – with my favourites being the Alex Cox audio commentary and the inclusion of 1968 documentary, Western, Italian Style. Plus, there’s that alternate ‘happy’ ending, which makes for a rather interesting debate.
Available to order from: Eureka Store https://eurekavideo.co.uk/movie/the-great-silence-il-grande-silenzio-limited-edition/
LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY CONTAINS
- Limited Edition (3000 Copies Only)
- O-Card Slipcase
- Reversible Poster featuring the film’s original artwork
- Set of 4 facsimile lobby cards
- 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a 2K restoration undertaken and completed for the 50th anniversary of the film’s original release
- English and Italian audio options
- Optional English Subtitles
- Brand new audio commentary with author Howard Hughes and filmmaker Richard Knew
- Brand new audio commentary by filmmaker Mike Siegel
- Audio commentary by director and Spaghetti Western aficionado Alex Cox, recorded live at the Hollywood Theatre, Portland in 2021.
- Brand new interview with Austin Fisher, author of Radical Frontiers in the Spaghetti Western: Politics, Violence and Popular Italian Cinema
- Cox on Corbucci – filmmaker Alex Cox talks about Sergio Corbucci [15 mins]
- Western, Italian Style – 1968 documentary [38 mins]
- Two Alternate Endings (both fully restored in 2K), with optional audio commentaries
- Stills Galleries
- PLUS: A Collector’s Booklet featuring new writing by Western expert Howard Hughes