Le Goût de la Violence Review (El Topo)
Le Goût de la Violence
I must start by saying that Le Goût de la Violence is wonderful gem of a little film. Those who know me would probably guess I would love this film, I know its a selfish feeling but it seems Hossein made the film for my personal taste.
STORY & SCRIPT
Written by Hossein himself, it got the pure simplicity of greatness, a love story, a tragic drama, a political statemant, all that in a wonderful study on human behavier and condition, with every character portraiting a specific role showing the most important feelings that - in the end - makes us what we are ... humans, love, hate, greed, courage, sorrow, etc. For instance I liked the part that Perez sister represented, how she tried to convince her brother to give up, and how she ended up being killed by the hands of her brother's enemies, who see her as an enemy, and there's no mercy for my enemies.
The story is set in some a non-specific place in Central America, I would risk to say somewhere in the South of Mexico or beyond, but that's not important. Still Hossein makes one reference to Zapata, near the end of the film in the scene we see the row of hanged man near the church, Perez says to one of the hanged man "Emiliano", in what seems to be a specific reference to Emiliano Zapata. It's common knowledge that Zapata and Villa were both allies during the Revolutionary War in Mexico, but while Villa (also with Indian blood) represented the small tierratenientes/landlords of Northern Mexico, and had more conventional demands, Zapata represented and fought for the native people of Southern Mexico (Chiapas) and their fight for the land against the rich landlords of the region, and of course for the self-determination of the native people. He was indeed betrayed by someone that was infiltrated among his man, that 's how they caught him with the help of a traitor, and he was indeed hanged.
This is a bold statement, but I would dare to say that the film was a major influence in Leone's posterior work. In Perez I can see something of Bronson harmonica man character, even a Coburn of Giu la testa. Like to Leone, Kurosawa was a big influence for Hossein directional style in this film. The solemnity always present in the works of the Japonese master, is also visible here, so Cemetery whithout crosses didn't happen just by chance. And there are several overwhelming scenes, like the one in which they tell the mother that her son is dead. Another example is scene in which the townfolks stalk them to the corn field, and they have to set it on fire to escape; this one scene says more about the revolution and what really matters than so many intellectual works with their meaningless messages.
I don't see any Nouvelle Vague elements in the film, something that you could expect for a 1961 French film. There might be some Clouzot yes, but directional style is quite unique. Some may read it as a counterpoint message about the political situation of France at the time, with the troubles before in Indochina and happening at the time in Algeria, but to be honest that doesn't seem to be Hossein's intention.
The technicall stuff is also great, the camera doesn't move more than necessary, there's some great framing, and the black and white is filmed in all his glory. The soundtrack made by Hossein senior is just beautiful. Every scene is made with a build up tension that is so rare to see these days, it's all about feelings like Fuller once said. It has some fantastic landscape photography. It was filmed in Montenegro so maybe forumate Djvaso can help about the locations, at least for the Cathedral scene.
For many years I thought that Hossein was just the guy from those Angelique flicks or from the French Police thrillers, or that Adorf was only in some weird German flicks after watching the Tin Drum in some TV night session. Thank God for the Internet to show me the overall picture. Both actors are perfect in their roles, no overacting, no nothing, even the unknown actor who played Chico was good in his naïvety, and Giovana Ralli was lovely as ever in black and white, like someone you could fall in love with all too easily. Hossein is the best actor I know always acting with the same expression, but that seems to work for him, and I really think he's a good actor, which is a strange thing if you think about the usual things that are qualities in actors.
A small masterpiece, that to my shame I only had the chance to watch now. I have to pay more attention to all the films Hossein directed, this one is a winner by any accounts, it shows in the most beautiful and poetic way the true meaning of human condition, no philosophies, no hidden agendas, no pamflets, just pure human nature in less than 90m. My favourite scene? Well maybe that one with both man and women at the beach before receiving the news that will separate them, but the entire movie is great.
I agree with forum member Stanton that it's not a spaghetti western, not even a Western. It's of no importance, but I do have a problem, this is just too good to not be in my Top 20, so I will go against my own irrelevant opinion, and I will draw a new line for spaghetti westerns, starting from this one, it does have Adorf and Hossein, so by offical Topo's decree Le Goût de la Violence it's now a spaghetti western, for me at least, and it will go straight to my top 20.
Why this small wonder doesn't have a proper release with so many shit being released, is just something I can't understand.
- To know a bit more about the Mexican revolution, this could be a small, very small introduction to the matter:
--By El Topo
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