Just days ago, we were graced with a teaser trailer to Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming snow western, The Hateful Eight, and it’s already generated plenty of chat and excitement. Here at FilmMunch we have decided to take a trip back in time to 1968 and showcase Sergio Corbucci’s own snow spaghetti western, Il Grande Silenzio (The Great Silence). It is the perfect preparatory film for The Hateful Eight.
Sergio Corbucci is probably known best for his directional work on Django and The Great Silence, both films also having had influence on the work of Quentin Tarantino, particularity his own Django Unchained and the upcoming, The Hateful Eight. First of all, The Hateful Eight is not a remake of The Great Silence, but there are some interesting similarities. The major similarity is the setting it takes place in, snow. Sergio Corbucci really captures the beauty of snow laced mountains so much so that you actually feel cold watching this film. The events of this film are supposed to take place during the great blizzard of 1899. A blizzard also features in The Hateful Eight. Look at the costumes, there are certain striking similarities. Who composed the score for this film, and who will compose for The Hateful Eight, the one and only, Ennio Morricone!
Jean-Louie Trintignant is Silence, who is our hero in the film, and opposing him is Klaus Kinski, Loco, the crazy bounty hunter. Up until the release of this film, the majority of spaghetti westerns, had portrayed bounty hunters as the anti-heros, but here Sergio Cobucci opts for having the tables turned, which makes for a very different feel to the genre. Klaus Kinski as Loco is my favourite part of the film, he is a horrible man, driven by greed, always having a hidden agenda, plus his performance is top notch. Worth mentioning is the performance delivered by Vonetta McGee, Pauline, who represents the very injustice the town of Snowhill face.
Although not as refined as the work of Sergio Leone and his Dollars Trilogy, this film is indeed a classic snow western worth considering. The music builds perfectly and carries you through an eerie but hopeful melody. The editing works well in parts to create moments of intimacy between Silence and Pauline, but falls short in managing to create intensity and tension in some shootout scenes. It does feel a little rough around the edges, but it’s still managed to leave it’s mark. Numerous directors have quoted this film in one way or another as having had some influence on their work, Quentin being the more notable.
Il Grande Silenzio’s legacy will live on this christmas when The Hateful Eight hits cinemas, it’s on us to acquaint ourselves with what came before. Grab your scarves and coat and prepare for the bitter and cold ending!
TRIVIA COOKIES: Jean-Louie Trintignant was a friend of one of the producers, as such agreed to do this film, with the condition that he didn’t have to learn any lines. As a result the story was written around the fact that the character he plays is mute.
The set used to film the Snowhill scenes was not snowbound, so they used heavy fog and gallons of shaving cream to create the snow look and feel.
The ending to this film is cold and bitter indeed. To appease African and Asian audiences an alternative, ‘happy ending’ was filmed. I prefer the original ending, it makes it much more memorable.