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Critics reviews
Salvatore Giuliano
Francesco Rosi Italy, 1962
A fascinating, perceptive and provocative look at a particular Italian region, the men and women who inhabit it and how all factors formed the short but riotous life of the film’s title subject.
July 11, 2018
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[Gomorrah and Salvatore Giuliano’s] thematic similarities are striking—especially their view of crime as a bulwark for the ruling class. What I found astonishing and thrilling was the way both directors marry journalistic rigor to a gritty imagistic splendor. Salvatore Giuliano was Rosi’s breakthrough film, and he and his team innovated a new style of filmmaking to trace the collision and collusion of Sicilian separatists, the Mafia, the cops, and the bandit antihero, Giuliano.
September 18, 2017
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Around Giuliano’s spectral form, Rosi assembles a methodical welter of interrogations, flashbacks and reconstructions, dossier pages scattered across the lumpy, stark landscape. From a Roman reporter to a recruited shepherd to a treacherous comrade, the perspective is continuously slippery, obscured, purposely incomplete. The political and personal forces at play are raw, the scrutiny is analytical.
January 26, 2015
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In his assemblage of just-the-facts vignettes, Rosi anticipates Paul Greengrass, but whereas Greengrass’ functional shot-lengths are tied to a notion of political spectatorship as a kind of instantaneous metabolising of information, Rosi conveys a sense of events arriving at someone else’s pace. So much of the film is waiting, on streets becoming deserted as citizens wordlessly retreat from balconies to behind shuttered windows.
September 25, 2014
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It’s a rigorous investigation (Rosi actually uncovered new facts about the case), but it’s never dry, it has blood flowing through its veins, and it’s shot in black and white that is absolutely electrifying (the cinematographer was Gianni Di Venanzo, who shot many of the greatest Italian pictures of the ‘50s and ’60s, including Antonioni’s L’eclisse and Fellini’s 8½).
February 28, 2014
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Rather than create black and white heroes and villains, Rosi’s film famously exposes the complicity of police, army, business and the Mafia with Giuliano and his gang. But in other ways, Salvatore Giuliano is pure melodrama.
March 18, 2012
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Salvatore Giuliano, for which [Rosi] won the Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Bear in ’62, is a knotted thread of skirmishes, negotiations, and massacres, its chronological meanderings matter-of-factly narrated.
August 05, 2011
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Rosi frames every shot in this film for maximum impact, and his compositions sometimes feel almost too balanced, flirting with mere pictorialism, but there is always a discernable intellectual query behind each image that makes us ponder where we are and why. Stubbornly, Rosi refuses to involve his audience in individual psychology, and he instinctively resists the safety net of narrative.
August 02, 2011
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Having mastered his craft, Rosi inaugurated with Salvatore Giuliano a new kind of realism that, while strongly influenced by neorealism, went beyond its immediate model by examining such issues as power and the relationships between the law and lawbreakers, while also shedding light on the causes and consequences that determine the ways in which society functions.
February 23, 2004
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Clearly it’s one of [Rosi’s] best—although his later films used variations on its flashback structure again and again, ultimately making some of it seem less fresh. Still, this is arguably as good as or better than anything Rosi has done since.
February 01, 1997
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In the opening sequence, Rosi already has laid bare what he conceives to be the real mystery: the process by which potentially disruptive events yield to official control. Bureaucratic language turns out to be the most dangerous weapon used in Salvatore Giuliano–so dangerous that the town official, in describing the corpse, might be said to murder the title character right before our eyes.
January 01, 1995
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The film that first brought Rosi international recognition: a masterly semi-documentary about – or rather around – the notorious Sicilian bandit… If Giuliano himself remains an enigma as the centrepiece of the jigsaw, the complex lessons offered by his life and death in terms of Sicilian society and Mafia politics are laid out with exemplary clarity. Stunningly shot in stark black-and-white by Gianni Di Venanzo.
January 01, 1980
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