Salvatore Giuliano (The Criterion Collection)


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Salvatore Giuliano is a 1962 Italian film directed by Francesco Rosi. Shot in a neo-realist documentary, non-linear style, it follows the lives of those involved with the famous Sicilian bandit, Salvatore Giuliano. Giuliano is mostly off-screen during the film and appears most notably as a corpse.

Derek Malcolm called it “almost certainly the best film about the social and political forces that have shaped [Sicily,] that benighted island.” Gino Moliterno argued that “Rosi’s highly original strategy in this landmark film is to aim at neither an “objective” journalistic documentary nor a fictional recreation but to employ as wide a range of disparate formal and stylistic elements as necessary to conduct a committed search for the truth that becomes, in a sense, its own narrative.”

David Gurevich said that “Rosi marries the neo-realist, black-and-white, populist aesthetic to the mad media circus of La Dolce Vita, tosses in some minimalist alienation from Antonioni, makes the film jump back and forth in time without any markers (so that you realize you’re back in the present only a few minutes after you’re already in a sequence), and makes his despair so infectious that we would probably be disappointed to know the truth.” Terrence Rafferty noted that “Salvatore Giuliano manages to sustain an almost impossible balance of immediacy and reflection: it’s such an exciting piece of filmmaking that you might not realize until the end that its dominant tone is contemplative, even melancholy.”

Director Martin Scorsese listed Salvatore Giuliano as one of his twelve favorite films of all time.

About Salvatore Giuliano

Salvatore Giuliano (Sicilian: Turiddu or Sarvaturi Giulianu) (November 16, 1922 – July 5, 1950) was a Sicilian bandit, who rose to prominence in the disorder which followed the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. In September of that year, Giuliano became an outlaw after shooting and killing a police officer who tried to arrest him for black-market food smuggling when 70% of Sicily’s food supply was provided by the black market. He maintained a band of subordinates for most of his career. He was a flamboyant, high-profile criminal, attacking the police at least as often as they sought him. In addition, he was a local power-broker in Sicilian politics between 1945 and 1948, including his role as a nominal colonel for the Movement for the Independence of Sicily. He and his band were held legally responsible for the Portella della Ginestra massacre, though there is some doubt about their role in the numerous deaths which occurred.

The widespread international press coverage he attracted made him an embarrassment to the Italian government, and throughout his banditry up to 2000 police and soldiers were deployed against him. He was killed in 1950 amid convoluted circumstances. The historian Eric Hobsbawm described him as the last of the “people’s bandits” (a la Robin Hood) and the first to be covered in real time by modern mass media.