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Film: The Great Silence
The Great Silence or Il grande silenzio is a 1968 Italian spaghetti western directed by Sergio Corbucci. It is considered Corbucci's greatest film and has a reputation for being one of the bleakest westerns ever. It plays with a lot of western tropes, such as the usual protagonist of few words actually being a mute, and intentionally provoking his enemies into drawing first.

Contrast with Sergio Leone's '"For a Few Dollars More". Nicolas Winding Refn's "Only God Forgives" is a Spiritual Successor.

Tropes

  • The Bad Guy Wins
  • Big Bad: Loco.
  • Bounty Hunter
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Inverted as Loco kills Silence after one of his henchmen wounds him only for Pauline to attempt to avenge him leading to her death by Loco, also.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Loco is played by Klaus Kinski, and is therefore characterized by this trope.
  • The Dog Shot First: Played with. Despite being known as a bounty hunter-killer, Silence stays on the right side of the law by provoking those he intends to kill into drawing first, so that he is technically acting in self-defense.
  • Downer Ending: At least in the original version which Sergio intended. Silence, Pauline, and the rest of the villagers all were gunned down by the bounty hunters. However, it's averted in the alternate ending, due to Sergio being pressured to do so for Asian and South African markets because of the original depressing bleak ending.
  • Evil Counterpart: Loco to Silence. While Silence only shoots people in self-defence, Loco kills even those he has promised to let live if they surrender. The contrast between the two becomes even clearer when you think that Loco has the choice of taking his targets alive but he chooses to kill them anyway. Silence on the other hand completely refuses to shoot anyone who doesn't try to shoot him first.
  • Fingore: Within the first few minutes Silence establishes an M.O. of shooting men's fingers off so that they can never use guns again.
  • Genre Blind: The sheriff apparently does not even suspect that Loco's request to relieve himself might be a trap.
  • Genre Savvy: Pauline correctly predicts that Loco will kill all the hostages regardless of whether Silence shows up to the duel or not.
  • The Hero Dies: Silence himself at the end.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • Silence will only draw in self-defense. He does not seem to be very far-sighted in defining self-defense as 'the moment the other guy draws on me', so he passes off many opportunities to kill Loco or the guy making moves on his girl.
    • Pauline is clearly aware of the fact that Loco's demand for Silence to show up for a duel is a trap, and that he will kill all the people there after he kills Silence regardless of whether Silence shows up or not. Regardless, Silence still shows up to his death.
  • Karma Houdini: Loco totally wins.
  • Kill 'em All: After Loco kills Silence and Pauline, who attempts to avenge his death, Loco's gang kills all the poor people and leaves.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Silence is wounded in his shoulder, is handicapped by his right hand being burned and calmly walks up to a building in which six bounty hunters are holed up. To drive the point home, the first thing that happens in the final scene is a bounty hunter shooting Loco's left hand through a window, totally crippling him.
  • The Speechless: Silence.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Sheriff is not exactly the brightest guy in town. There are times when Loco and the banker exchange glances as he impulsively tries to establish his authority.

Go WestIndex of Film WesternsThe Great Train Robbery
Blood RitesFilms of the 1960sThe Green Berets

alternative title(s): The Great Silence
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