July 5, 1950—Sicilian bandit Salvatore Giuliano’s bullet-riddled corpse is found facedown in a courtyard in Castelvetrano, a handgun and rifle by his side.
Local and international press descend upon the scene, hoping to crack open the true story behind the death of this young man, who, at the age of twenty-seven, had already become Italy’s most wanted criminal and celebrated hero. Filming in the exact locations and enlisting a cast of native Sicilians once impacted by the real Giuliano, director Francesco Rosi harnessed the facts and myths surrounding the true story of the bandit’s death to create a startling exposé of Sicily and the tangled relations between its citizens, the Mafia, and government officials. A groundbreaking work of political filmmaking, Salvatore Giuliano established Rosi’s reputation and assured his place in cinema history. —The Criterion Collection
The films of Francesco Rosi stand as an urgent riposte to any proposal of aesthetic puritanism as a sine qua non of engaged filmmaking. From Salvatore Giuliano to Illustrious Corpses and Chronicle of a Death Foretold, he uses a mobilisation of the aesthetic potential of the cinema not to decorate his tales of corruption, complicity, and death, but to illuminate and interrogate the reverberations these events cause. If one quality were to be isolated as especially distinctive and characteristic it would have to be the sense of intellectual passion, of direction propelled by an impassioned sense of inquiry. This can be true in a quite literal way in Salvatore Giuliano, in which any “suspense” accruing to Giuliano’s death is put aside in favour of a search for another kind of knowledge; and The Mattei Affair, in which the soundtrack amasses evidence that is presented virtually in opposition to the images before us; or, in a more metaphoric sense, Christ Stopped at Eboli, which represents… read more
I think all political films should be measured against this one. The structure is superb as the facts are presented almost like newspaper articles but the film always remains extremely cinematically intriguing. A masterpiece
A selection of striking posters by a little-known East German designer.
Posters for an essential retrospective in New York of the films of the great Italian chronicler of crime and punishment, Francesco Rosi.