Cemetery Without Crosses Review (korano)
From The Spaghetti Western Database
Cemetery Without Crosses (Une corde, un Colt)
|CEMETERY WITHOUT CROSSES (1968)|
Review A | Review B
Ben Caine and his two brothers steal gold from the Roger's family in respone to them stealing Caine cattle. Ben is hanged in front of his widow. She travels to a ghost town to convince Ben's friend, Manuel, to exact a revenge upon the Roger's. He does so begrudgingly.
This film is simply great. It is full of atmopshere and style. Robert Hossein tells a familiar story but treats it with class and breaths new life into this tired theme. It is very quiet and melancholy. A very well made, acted, directed, and written film.
The themes here, though somehwat used, are treated as if they've never been done before. It doesn't show vengeance in a cool way as maybe Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die does. It shows it as a never ending circle that will destroy all who engage in it. An anti vengeance movie. This makes for a very sad movie. There is not much happiness at all here. But this all makes it more human and a better movie.
To start, this film is very styized. But not in a new age or modern type of way. Hossein tells it through his own style. His style here is very melancholy as I mentioned and very unique. Here, he follows the Leone tradition of letting scenes speak for themselves and not having much, if any dialogue. But Hossein does not directly copy that style. He reuses it. Filming it in his own way. An example would be when Manuel (Hossein) and Maria (Mercier) are in the ghost town. Manuel stares at Mercier in a deeply saddened manner. But she is so preoccuoied with her vengeance that she can hardly see his love for her. She avoids answer Manuel's "calls" by avoiding eye contact. He sees that revenge has poisoned her mind. He sees that she has become something of a monster because, as this is happening, her two half brothers are raping the Roger's daughter. An innocent bystander who had nothing to do with the murder of Maria's husband. But Manuel does nothing to stop it because he loves Maria and this is her will. He underrtook this mission to satisfy Maria becuase of his love for her. He does not have the strength to go against her will. This all happens within about 3 minutes and definitely says more than words. This style of approach makes tis film out to be something of an art film. But becuase of this, the film has a rather slowpace. But with Hossein's skillful direction, you soon forget that knowone has been shot for at least 30 minutes. It keeps the film going to include these seamingly enpty scenes. But the intensity portrayed within these scenes forces out the depth they really contain.
But Leone's influence is still there. The main character of Manuel is a depressed and troubled man and makes for a great anti hero. Somewhat similar to Leone's characters but also completely different. There is far more depth to this character. He has and shows emoton. But never when killing. He is a magnificent killer and kills with almost no hesitation. There are things about his character that make him "cool". Whenever he shoots his gun, he puts on a black leather glove. His character almost never speaks and sometimes it seems he prefers to let the glove do the talking for him. When he is having a drink in a saloon, a quarell between two men arises and during there dialogue, he carelessly puts on the glove to prepare for the inevitable. Also, when the two Caine brothers wish to use the Roger's daughter for there own purposes, Manuel declines to let them take her. But he doesn't say that. He simply puts on his glove ad the two ride off.
With the way this film was made, it leaves a lot to be interpreted. But it is anyone's guesss what they really mean. For instance, the glove. It may either be a very deep and meaningfu gimmick, or a simple question of comfort. Maybe the glove represents the dark side of Mauel that expresses itself throught the gun or violence and to symbolize this, he puts on a black leather glove. A symbol of his dark side. Or, it could simply be the fact that fanning the hammer of a colt revolver can eat away at your hand and the glove is simpy protecting his hand. Either way it works. There is also the question as to why Manuel undertakes this mission which he rejects initially. We find out that Manuel and Maria were former lovers but Maria was abandoned by Manuel. Maybe when she beseeches him to exact the revenge against the Roger's, he thinks he has to act tough and manly or as f the incident didn't have any affect on him. But he immediately prepares for the mission as soon as she leaves. It may be because he has been waiting for a chance to please her eversince he abandoned her. That his abandonment of her has really bothered him. So he undertakes this task to please her and to possibly rekindle there long lost love. Or maybe it is just something to do. The first makes the most sense but like I said, there is a lot to be interpreted here.
This was a French/Italian co production. Mostly Fench though. Beyond there being a lot of Pierres in the main titles, there are things you will only see in a Fench western. Whenever a character is drinking coffee in this movie, it is out of a bowl. Also, there is a scene with about 20 ranch hands all sitting at a table eating soup. Also, although not as noticeable, at the same dinner scene, the Rogers family cross themselves as they do in Catholiscm. It is not that noticeable but I find it French. Most spaghetti western characters who cross themselves or who are catholics are mexicans. Most of the gringos who represent religion in this film are usually quakes or mormons. Never have I seen a Catholic gringo in a spaghetti western. Unless it is a priest.
Spoilers The acting is magnificent. All the actors here stay right within the boundaries of what there charcaters require and this does wonders for a performance. Hossein plays the most anti of heroes. He is sad, which makes him a tragic hero, and he is also lonley and in love. But violent as well. He kills innocents just to complete his mission. He lets the two Caine brothers rape an innocent girl, and almost annihialtes that girl's immediate family. For all his misdeeds, he offers himself to be shot at the film's conclusion to atone for all his sins and misdeads within in the film and his own history. Michele Mercier is also very good. Although she is a very pretty woman, she does not play a vamp or anything of the like. The film is no about sex appeal or eye candy but about mood and atmosphere. She does a great job. She is very emotonal when she has to be emotional and very serious when she has to be serious. Lee Burton, a spagheti western charcater actor, is given third billing here. He does a great job too. He with his brother can be cowardly, violent, mean, and everythng else they have to be to pull off a great perfomance. Danile Vagas is quite possobily the balest person I've ever seen. Bu gives a good enough performance. He does i just right here. Great acting all around.
The directing is excellent. Actors have always made fine directors. Look at Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner, and Rebert De Niro. Hossein makes it high on the lst as well. He tells a great story and directs every scene with class and originality. He also makes great use of sets. His character, Manuel, lives in a dilapidted ghost town that highly resembles a Dali painting. Great direction. There is also a great scene that feels like something from No Country for Old Men. In the ghost town's saloon, Manuel waits inside while a gunman waits outside. They are on either sides of the wall. Manuel douses the light within to blur the mans vision. He rushes in and Manuel shoots him in the stomach. Very tense and a lot like some of the shootouts in No Country for Old Men.
The musical score was performed by Hossein's father, Andre. Not his brother as some believe. It truley is original and very enjoyable. The spanish guitar makes several scenes great if only to listen to the beautiful, melancholic deguello. He also pays homage to 50's American westerns with the main themethat is a mixture of American and Italian western music. See my review of the films soundtrack for further details.
A brilliant Spaghetti Western. Well made and a very high production value. Great all around. Truely beautiful and recommended to everyone. Spaghetti fan or not. A truley moving classic of the genre. Cemetery Without Crosses.
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