By: Alessandro Cunsolo
The 1976 was a year that gave a lot to Italian cinema and more. E 'was the year of "King Kong" by the great Carlo Rambaldi, was the year of the first "Rocky" played magnificently by Stallone and again, the year of "Taxi Driver" the extraordinary cult movie of the couple De Niro / Scorsese. But 1976 was also the year that marked the end of almost more than a decade of some Italian genre cinema, the end of the so-called Western Italian style, or as some said, almost to denigrate the Spaghetti Western.
The Italian-style Western born timidly in the early 60's but especially towards the end of the first half of the 60 states that vigorously in Italy and abroad, thanks to the first of three films of Sergio Leone, who will be part of the famous trilogy of the dollar: "A Fistful of Dollars", "For a Few Dollars More" and "The Good The Bad and The Ugly". From then on, for about 10 years will be routed almost 200 films, some successful, others less, and still others for nothing.
But back to 1976, year in which he left practically the last real Spaghetti Western, a film that has become a cult beloved by audiences around the world, one of the films from which Quentin Tarantino was inspired by the his "Django". The name of the movie is "Keoma" and today, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this masterpiece, this extraordinary and almost poetic westerns, are here in the company of the director: Master Enzo G. Castellari.
Maestro, first I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to celebrate with you the 40th anniversary of his "Keoma", as it is first of all?
40 years have passed, yet still riguardandolo "Keoma" manages to be very present and exciting, he never asked why his films like and liked it so much?
We start from the "principle" that I am the first spectator of my films ... when I'm making a scene I always wonder: "This I'd like to see it on the screen?" And if the judge applies to me, as a viewer, I think that will be appreciated even others ... at least almost all !!! Returning to Keoma, is the film, among many made by me, that I love the most, the one in which I recognize myself completely as a director, screenwriter, for the sense of the scene, the use of slow motion, creator of the shares, the choice of characters, rhythm, original solutions of assembly, personal interpretation of flashbacks, creating pictorial shots ... !!!
The original story of Luigi Montefiori, foresaw a "Keoma" a little 'different, which has since been modified during construction, why he decided to change it?
I was engaged in the edition of the film "The Big Racket" and I could not write the script as in all my films, Manolo Bolognini, the producer, entrusted the writing with other writers ... the preparation of the film was made on the basis of the subject of Montefiori because we had a "stop day" Franco Nero that had to do another movie soon after, so there was the need to have the script immediately ... started shooting without the script, making only action scenes with horses that I knew would still remain ... the script came the second day of shooting ... I read it at night and I was unhappy, bewildered, unhappy and pissed off !! Woke up all the phone giving the news: "The script sucks!!!" DRAMA!!! What do we do? I asked Franco and Bolognini ... let the rest of the night to think of a possible way to continue and tomorrow, on the set, I will give you a solution ... my morning fire ... but my proposal was the only chance to continue filming " invent the scenes every day! "The story is valid, then the creation of the scenes and the dialogue will take place on September, fortunately John Loffredo, the American actor who played one of the brothers Shannon is also a writer and shooting the film in English , the I anticipated that I had every intention for the scene, providing ideas and themes and so he realized the dialogue ... and this is where THE MAGIC ... I was inspired by all the movies that I loved, all the directors who had idolized, all the scenes that I had remained in my heart and poured into every scene my passion for the American Cinema (also Swedish !!!) carrying out processing !!! ... To be able to realize a dream!!! Extemporaneously scenes that I had adored in other movies and "make them my own, completely mine!!!" It 'was really a fantastic experience!
I know who to turn Keoma had to overcome many unexpected difficulties and various problems, he wants to tell our audience what happened?
The problems were only the script but it gave me the opportunity to change it to my taste ... with the consent of the actors and the producer. Franco often asked me: "This change is fine but after that?" "How should I know ... for now it works then I will have other ideas and solutions ..." And the ideas were flowing and continuous, magically !!! The character of Woody Strode was not provided in the subject, but the actor went to Rome and was greeted Manolo Bolognini ... as I saw him I went into a trance: "Please Manolo, do stay, do take part in the movie !!!" "For what role do? "" I do not know, but I invented! "And there was a great role !!! Woody was on the set every day and how I had the idea he was ready. At the end of the film, in greet and thank the extraordinary experience he had done, he confessed: "I Enzo I watched you every day as thou didst, inventavi your shots, as realizzavi actions, as escogitavi situations, such as talking with attori..e I have to say congratulations ... especially since you seemed every time John Ford ... I have made several movies with him and you remind me so much! "At times fainted! What I said I've always considered my Oscar !!!
His relationship with Franco Nero has always been a special relationship, a relationship of esteem, respect and friendship by both, but how does the choice of Franco in the role of "Keoma"?
There was no choice, when Bolognini took me to the subject was inherent that was for me and Franco! We left and I Manolo Franco for Monaco where he was filming "21 0re in Monaco" (the story of the tragedy of the Olympics where a command of Palestinians attacked the residence of Jewish athletes) brought you the story and re-formed again the couple Black-Castellari.
Keoma, boasts the participation of important actors among which of course in addition to Franco Nero, Woody Strode, William Berger, Olga Karlatos, Orso Maria Guerrini, Antonio Marsina, Joshua Sinclair, Donald O'Brien and Wolfgang Soldiers about Wolfgang Soldiers, there is a famous scene, starring Franco Nero and precisely Wolfgang Soldiers, I am referring to that of 4 bullets; He wants to tell our audience how it was built? But above all (smile) who it is to hand counting bullets?
(Smiles) And 'one of my many "scenic inventions" during processing ... but every time I turned in my films framing weapon in the foreground with the barrel pointing toward a goal, I always made myself as cameraman using my own hands, always!
How did the title of the film?
The title Keoma we found it in a magnificent book that Woody brought from America, the history of the red, gorgeous, with beautiful illustrations ... in one of the stories that name appears that belonged to an Indian woman who was brutally murdered. It seemed a perfect name for your character, graphically by "me cojoni" !!! ... Later I have always said that in the dialect of the tribe of Woody Strode meant "freedom" ... and no one has ever challenged this imprecision, taking for real !!
Notwithstanding that, from first to last, I loved all the roles and interpretations of the various characters in the film, I found, however, really interesting differentiation of the three brothers Shannon, masterfully played by Orso Maria Guerrini, Antonio Marsina and Joshua Sinclair (John Loffredo); how did their participation in the film, but mostly what the criteria chose their roles representing three brothers with three styles so different?
The reason is simple: Orso Maria Guerrini, John and Antonio Loffredo Marsina were among the protagonists of "The Big Racket" I had just turned around and I thought it appropriate, given the relationship created during processing, to repeat the good experience with these three actors.
There is a scene in the movie, that every time I see her, even after several years, so it makes me shiver and exciting, I refer to the sequence ranging from the killing of the father of Keoma, (the brilliant William Berger ) up to the so-called "Crucifixion of Keoma". In this scene, she used different filming techniques including slow motion, that made this really addictive. What tells me about it?
I must confess that I, too, whenever I see the sequence me you put a lump in my throat. The killing of the father of Keoma remains for me one of the best pieces I've ever done! The crucifixion instead I kept the heart from when turned "Johnny Hamlet" with the commissioning of the cross of the protagonist, Andrea Giordana. I knew I could turn much better and so, taking advantage of my freedom to invent all the scenes of the film ... I got this my desire to perform in a spectacular emblem of the "ultimate sacrifice" and I did it ... I love !!! deeply this scene and I recognize to have turned good !!!
Another of the important components of his film, are the beautiful music of the brothers Guido and Maurizio De Angelis, how did their participation in the film?
You should know that I mount all my films every night, working on set over the great gift that I give myself is to go immediately in slow motion ... I have to edit the film simultaneously with the shooting, I can have the same creative fever that I have had on September also in slow motion, without running long time since I created the scenes on location and then mounting varies with the shooting ... you knew the "slow motion" in many countries ... I did get in the trailer, in hotel rooms , in the basement, in the back of the shops, in the depths of the saloon, in deserts, in the mountains ... always !!! It's my narrative necessity to edit what I've filmed in the days before. But to this I add that I cannot fit without music !!! So Keoma, Gianfranco Amick, my editor, and I chose the music of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen with their ballads and adattavamo extraordinary scenes and vice versa. Since I had decided that my Keoma had an ongoing dialogue with Death also thought to what text should inspire us every time she sang, it was always my Keoma who spoke about his life and its events ... After the installation, complete with music, we called the De Angelis who saw the film mounted "full of music" and did not have to do anything but "interpret" what I had already chosen as "driving music"!!!
I happened to see Keoma in the company of several friends, in different periods of my life, but almost all at the end of the film have wondered: "Why Keoma leaves the child in the arms of Death?" Death, that we remember is interpreted a talented Gabriella Giacobbe. He fails to satisfy the curiosity of my friends and many of his fans that perhaps you will be made the same question?
Good question !!! All the start and the end I shot the first few days in a small village destroyed in Palestrina, near Rome. Clearly not having the script, I ventured to realize the start and end of the film in this place knowing that so I liked the beginning and as I turned, I liked the ending ... especially the death of the brothers Shannon commented only by cries of the woman in labor, without the noise and music ... then I sewed and justified everything by turning the rest of the movie ... you do not notice the fragmented nature of the various stages and the real miracle is that in the end the film seems really super thought and discussed for months instead ... I invented daily !!! ... I gave infinite giving "a rip off" Death forcing her to save a life ... then assembling everything, perhaps the finalissimo left me puzzled ... I tried several times to give me an explanation for this final ... but in the end the 'I recognized as my rumination genuine, which I did not have to explain, in fact I always replied: "But how do you not understand the meaning of the newborn creature in the arms of Death?"
Keoma in 2007 was honored at the Venice Film Festival, within the retrospective on spaghetti westerns, with what emotion recalls this prestigious award?
With so much emotion, emotion and infinite enthusiasm!!!!!!
We're almost at the end of our interview, but before closing, I feel obliged to ask this. Some film critics, believe that one of the causes of the end of the Spaghetti Westerns were a few films set in the West but too comical, she thinks that one reason is this?
And 'one of the causes ... if they made too much of western ... too many bad ... someone ... invedibile other poor, poor, sloppy, repetitive ...