Directed by Francesco Rosi, "Salvatore Giuliano" (1962) is a deeply political film that uses a quasi-documentary style to tell the story of the eponymous Sicilian bandit, who became both a folk hero and a symbol of corruption and lawlessness.
The film is far from a traditional biopic. Rosi employs an innovative non-linear narrative, weaving together flashbacks, newsreel footage, staged scenes, and direct addresses to the camera to create a complex mosaic that explores not only the life and death of Giuliano but also the socio-political complexities of post-war Sicily.
The character of Salvatore Giuliano, brilliantly played by an amateur actor who was chosen for his physical resemblance to the real-life bandit, remains a largely elusive figure throughout the film. Rosi seems more interested in examining the systemic corruption and injustice that allowed Giuliano to rise and fall than in delving into the psychological depths of his character.
Rosi's direction is noteworthy for its attention to authenticity and detail. Filmed on location in Sicily, the movie uses the stark, barren landscape to reflect the harshness and brutality of Giuliano's world. The cinematography is striking, with its black-and-white palette underscoring the bleakness of the narrative.
"Salvatore Giuliano" is a challenging film that demands the viewer's active engagement. It's a film that refuses to simplify its subject matter or provide easy answers, instead presenting a multi-faceted exploration of a complex figure and the turbulent socio-political landscape in which he existed.
Despite its challenging nature, or perhaps because of it, "Salvatore Giuliano" remains a powerful and significant work of cinema. It's a film that leaves an indelible impression, not just as a portrait of a controversial figure, but as a stark depiction of a society riddled with corruption and inequality.