Death is Sweet from the Soldier of God Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
Brad Harris had signed a contract for three westerns with a production company called Three Stars, but only two of the three movies were completed, Wanted Sabata and Arriva Durango, Paga o Muori. This third part (See Database Page) was produced by another company, and is said to be an assembly of re-edited scenes of the first two movies, with a couple of new scenes added (*1). The film is best know for a couple of great titles (in Italian and English) plus a wonderful poster design, also used for various releases of the movie on VHS and DVD. Biggest throwback: the scene depicted on the poster, is not in the movie.
Harris is Durango (Django in some versions) and he’s a former sheriff falsely accused of a robbery. He ends up in jail with a guy called Spirito Santo, who was arrested for steeling money he needed for the revolution and his poor family at home in Mexico - at least that’s what he says (he also pretends to be one-eyed). The two are sprung out of jail by a mystery man and subsequently join a gang of Mexicans who are looking for the stolen strongbox: Durango to prove his innocence, Santo to collect money for the revolution. We also get a vengeance tale, with Durango looking for the man who killed his brother and his wife.
As one might expect from an assembly movie, Death is Sweet ... doesn’t hang together. The vengeance tale is particularly stupid: Durango tracks down the killer and takes his revenge, but an earlier scene clearly showed that this man - played by Vassili Karis - was not responsible for the slayings; when he arrived on the spot, Durango’s relatives were already dead and he has been trying to eliminate Durango ever since, because he - Durango - would never believe that he was innocent. What nonsense! Is the movie worth tracking down? Harris is his usual self, steady as a rock and acting like one, but the patchwork seems to hurt Torres' performance: In Arriva Durango ... his hyperactive style worked well in combination with Harris' stoicism, but here his character has no consistency and his overzealous routines - invoking la madre de Dios every other minute or so - quickly become annoying. For completists only. But that poster is a killer.
As said the poster does not refer to any scene in the movie. A forum member, Jonathan Corbett, suggested that the source of inspiration was the 'crucifixion' scene in Valdez Is Coming! released shortly before (*2). It’s not impossible, but it seems more likely that the designer was inspired by the Italian title, Semino’ la morte ... lo chiamavano Castigo di Dio. Il Castigo di Dio, the Punishment of God is a biblical term, referred to in the Book Isaiah (*3), usually interpreted as an annunciation of the Crucifiction of the Christ, God’s own son, being crucified for our sins, bearing our cross. Death - the Punishment of God - is seen as a 'good' thing: it delivered us from the original sin. This idea is also rendered - albeit in a slightly different way - in the English title, Death is sweet ...:
- (1) Some erroneously think all scenes were recycled from the two other movies; on the Italian spaghetti western database it’s called a perfect example of "copia e incolla“, copy and paste!
- (2) See: https://forum.spaghetti-western.net/t/django-adios-1972-roberto-mauri/2823/15?u=scherpschutter
- (3) Castigo was derived from the Latin "castum agere", meaning make pure, chaste, purify; see also: Bilingual (Italiano/inglese) Bible: http://www.transcripture.com/italiano-inglese-isaia-53.html
E, nondimeno, eran le nostre malattie ch’egli portava, erano i nostri dolori quelli di cui s’era caricato; e noi lo reputavamo colpito, battuto da Dio, ed umiliato!
Ma egli è stato trafitto a motivo delle nostre trasgressioni, fiaccato a motivo delle nostre iniquità; il castigo, per cui abbiam pace, è stato su lui, e per le sue lividure noi abbiamo avuto guarigione.
But it was our pain he took, and our diseases were put on him: while to us he seemed as one diseased, on whom God's punishment had come.
But it was for our sins he was wounded, and for our evil doings he was crushed: he took the punishment by which we have peace, and by his wounds we are made well.