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Spaghetti Western

This is a genre that everyone has heard of but no one quite realizes its film-historic significance. "Spaghetti Western" was originally a pejorative term invented by journalists who appreciated the genre, which was considered inferior to the Westerns made in America. These Italian-European Westerns emerged thanks to a small market slump in the mid-1960s, a time when classic American Westerns and other big names of the genre (like John Ford and Anthony Mann) moved out of cinemas and onto television screens. Although these films received little attention at first, their reputation grew over the years, allowing filmmakers such as Sergio Leone to emerge as forerunner directors of the genre. His Dollar trilogy blossomed in the art’s birthplace (with a very young Clint Eastwood as the "Man with No Name"). Directors like Sergio Sollima and Sergio Corbucci, actors like Franco Nero or Tomas Milian, and the composer Ennio Morricone defined the Spaghetti Western through their use of baroque images, gratuitous fighting, elegant soundtracks and politically-incorrect storylines with strangely named anti-heroes such as Ringo, Sartana or Django. These low-budget films were shot in the desert sands of Almeria, Spain, and persisted in breaking every possible convention of the genre. Italy and Italian culture was a heavy influence, infusing their visual aesthetic and storylines with Roman Catholic iconography and biblical references.
Keeping with the political climate of the times, some directors and screenwriters used this popular genre as a vehicle for their Marxist and anti-imperialist sentiment. Such was the case with the famous "Zapata" Westerns, which played out against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution. From 1969 on, several productions segued into parody, even slapstick. But by the mid-1970s, the genre had run dry and its era of glory came to an end.

The notorious connaisseur and Spaghetti Western aficionado, Alex Cox, will be present to introduce every film from this section screening at Nova.



The Price of Power

Il prezzo del potere

Tonino Valerii, 1969, IT-ES, 35mm, ov st ang, 108'

The film takes place in Dallas in 1880, but the events evoke those of 1963. A progressive president is cold-bloodedly killed during a visit to the city. Someone is quickly arrested, but is assassinated while being transferred. State agents investigate but uncover nothing, and journalists and other figures die under suspicious circumstances. According to the official version, the murderer operated alone. Bill Willer, with the help of an honest reporter, wants to reveal the truth: the first suspect was just a poor innocent guy, and he was killed. The President may have in fact been killed by snipers hired by rich Southern racists, with the Vice-President involved in the conspiracy.
"The Price of Power" adapts the story of Kennedy’s murder to a Western: a notable example of the Political Spaghetti Western that is a must for Eurowestern fans. The director Tonino Valerii recycles sets and part of the cast from Leone’s famous "Once Upon a Time in the West".

19.03 > 22:00


Carlo Lizzani, 1966, IT, 16mm, vt ang , 92'

The son of a Mexican bandit arrives in a village controlled by a deranged former Confederate officer who is stealing land from the locals. An overtly political Spaghetti Western with the added pleasure of film director Pier Paolo Pasolini in the role of a revolutionary priest.

19.03 > 24:00


The Great Silence

Il grande Silenzio

Sergio Corbucci, 1968, FR-IT, 35mm, ov ang st de & fr, 105'

Winter 1898 in the snowy Utah plains: a group of famished farmers and loggers pillage the surrounding roads and towns in order to survive the harsh winter. In an attempt to stop the violence and promote his electoral campaign, the state Governor is ready to grant them amnesty and provide them with food. He sends Sheriff Burnett (Frank Wolff) to maintain order until the treaty can be signed... but not without the help of a group of mercenaries hired to assassinate outlaws, a group of which Tigrero (Klaus Kinski) is a member. Tigrero is an evil and merciless headhunter who’s obsessed with money and the smell of death. A mute, trigger-happy stranger named Silence (Jean-Louis Traintignant) arrives out of nowhere and agrees to avenge one of the outlaws’ deaths by wiping out all the headhunters. A fight between the sheriff and the cruel, ruthless mercenaries ensues; a battle for justice and equality.

20.03 > 20:00


Giulio Questi, 1967, IT-ES, 35mm, ov st ang, 100'

Two Indians come across an injured bandit (The Stranger, a role created especially for Tomas Milian) climbing out of a tomb. He was left for dead by his former accomplice Oaks and their gang, who fled with their stolen gold. Once healed, the Stranger plans his vengence. He loads his gun with golden bullets and heads to a small city where he learns that Oaks was the only one to escape the sadistic fury of the city’s denizens and that the stolen gold has disappeared. The Stranger is caught between two rival factions: the black leather-clad Mexican muchachos headed by Sorro, and the city folk led by the saloon’s innkeeper (whose parrot never fails to comment the action). And this is only the beginning...
"Django kill!" is a phenomenon of its own within the Spaghetti Western sub-genre: Few films are as brutal, surreal and gothic. Realized by a friend of Fellini’s, Giulio Questi ("Death Laid An Egg"), it’s one of Alex Cox’ faves.

20.03 > 22:00


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