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« #90 : March 13, 2009, 02:54:13 PM »

My review from the Rate the Last Movie thread... well, not much of a review...

Keoma - 9/10

I bought this one already some time ago, and didn't watch it for a while, because I wasn't in the right mood...
Then, last Tuesday, I woke up with a sore throat and knew I had to stay at home, so while pondering over possible activities for a day of illness, I decided it was the right time to watch Keoma.
I was blown away.
I'm not quite sure it was the best idea to start the day with watching it, though: I forgot all about breakfast.

The one point down is probably for the kid playing little Keoma (I didn't like the kid much, don't know why) and the vocal main theme... it's not bad at all, but it's there all the time and there were moments I wished there was a different kind of music in it as well... It's similar to Watch Out, We're Mad which I watched during my illness as well, that's also got the de Angelis brothers (I suppose they're brothers) as musicmakers, it's also got a main theme song, and it's also rather overused...
Otherwise, a perfectly thrilling and moving film. I loved the intertwining of different time levels, not just the flashbacks, but also when Keoma's brothers return to the town... that was really nicely done.


I'd really love to point out the scenes of the brothers' return, the way they're shown walking at peace, planning, and it's mixed up with their action... it was simple, but amazing, I've never seen such thing in a film before. I guess it must be used somewhere else as well, there are thousands of films I haven't seen (and will never see). But here it was awesome for me.



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« #91 : November 25, 2009, 12:05:15 PM »

A very good SW. Overall, I liked it, the only exception being that I found the vocal theme annoying at times.

8/10

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« #92 : November 25, 2009, 04:54:13 PM »

Yea it would have been nice to hear it as just an instumental in some spots, but its not grating to me like it is to some.


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« #93 : November 25, 2009, 06:25:07 PM »

It's similar to Watch Out, We're Mad which I watched during my illness as well, that's also got the de Angelis brothers (I suppose they're brothers) as musicmakers, it's also got a main theme song, and it's also rather overused...


By coincidence i was watching Franco Nero in Castellari's STREET LAW  yesterday and i got totally distracted by the WATCH OUT,WE'RE MAD theme tune as background music in a tense barroom scene. ;D  I do love that theme however along almost everything that the De Angelis brothers did including KEOMA.Drawing from several different sources for each film score they provide, they seem to have an uncanny knack of composing the perfect musical backdrop whatever the genre.However,i'd need to recheck the STREET LAW Franco Nero interview special feature but i think Nero said  that either him or Castellari were at least partly instrumental in the brothers coming up with a Cohen/folk based score for KEOMA.Nero continues that the brothers were always receptive of idea's for their compositions with Nero claiming some credit for the brilliant STREET LAW soundtrack.

Someone burnt the KEOMA dvd for me a couple or so years back and i still haven't listened to Castellari's commentary so i think i'll rectify this very shortly. :) 

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« #94 : November 26, 2009, 02:29:03 AM »

Unfortunately, my DVD is from a cheap edition and doesn't have any commentary.
I like the songs as well, it's just that after watching said films, the themes are playing in my head for the rest of the day, if not longer, and that's something I could live without.



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« #95 : February 10, 2010, 02:40:51 PM »

This is a tough movie to rate. There are great scenes, especially the opening. But the flashbacks were laughable and over used. I lost it when they showed a young Nero with long hair. The movie also takes itself way too seriously--the christ symbolism, for one--yet the film is quite campy. The soundtrack is so bad that it's amazing, I love it. I just don't feel this movie has any momentum or rhythm. It was tough to watch in its entirety, but I understand how hardcore fans of the genre hold it dearly. The sets are pretty good for Spag standards and there is atmospheric charm but it's such a mess. There were some great camera movements but the action was too repetitive and slow-mo was over utilized. Interesting movie though.



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« #96 : February 11, 2010, 02:02:33 AM »

This is a tough movie to rate. There are great scenes, especially the opening. But the flashbacks were laughable and over used. I lost it when they showed a young Nero with long hair. The movie also takes itself way too seriously--the christ symbolism, for one--yet the film is quite campy. The soundtrack is so bad that it's amazing, I love it. I just don't feel this movie has any momentum or rhythm. It was tough to watch in its entirety, but I understand how hardcore fans of the genre hold it dearly. The sets are pretty good for Spag standards and there is atmospheric charm but it's such a mess. There were some great camera movements but the action was too repetitive and slow-mo was over utilized. Interesting movie though.

Comes close to my opinion on Keoma. A very disparate film with some great scenes always on the verge of total kitsch. 6/10

All in all Castellari never had the feeling for directing westerns, and Keoma is his best, but still the best scenes in Keoma are not necessarily typical western ones.


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« #97 : February 12, 2010, 06:35:06 AM »

That's more or less what I thought of it when I saw the first minutes on TV a couple years ago.


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« #98 : February 12, 2010, 12:26:22 PM »

Haven't seen it in ages, I'll give it another try (hopefully soon).




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« #99 : January 25, 2013, 10:43:38 AM »

Well here it is almost 3 years later  ;)

It was a good day to re-watch Keoma:

Films like great paintings, are there for us to view, experience, and interpret.  This go round, watching I think it finally all clicked. This is my interpretation.  A truly Mythic Western, an amalgamation of American Western Legend and Myth, Greco-Roman Mythology, and a touch of Catholic theology.

Darkness, we enter the Dreamscape from darkness, the roar of time floods your ears and you see a sliver of a crack in the continuum of the universe. Through it we see a horseman punctuated with now the sounds and sights other human artifacts, we cut to frantic hands combing through the debris of humanity. The rider is in a Dream/Ghost town or perhaps Limbus. The hands belong to a Witch/Medicine Woman/Fate and she clutches discarded treasures that she loads on her barrow. She spots the rider and hides.

As he passes she calls out a question "Why did you come back? Why did you come back?"

So begins Keoma

The De Angelis brothers' weird soundtrack, especially the female voice now suggests an eerie Native American chant and whole film has a dreamworld atmosphere constantly enhanced by the incredible cinematography reinforcing the tone of this last of the great operatic Spaghetti Westerns.

From IMDb

Oneiric murder tapestry, 12 April 2007

Author: oOgiandujaOo from United Kingdom
Review of English-language Blue Underground version:

My, my these Spaghettis. In Keoma (Franco Nero), we have a man who has descended into hell, he has become an annihilator. The landscape is infernal, from the Breughelesque sets to the leering henchman to the blasted mountains. For his enemies, he has two barrels of a shotgun, and no pity. The hell is as much in his mind as it is in the town he rides into. He is a man with no place, ideology or purpose. Unlike Eastwood's characters in the dollars trilogy who are without history or neuroses, with Nero as Keoma we have a profound psychological portrait of a man in spiritual agony, on the road to obliteration and self-immolation.

The scenario is also hellish, we have a town and a region that has been taken over by a warlord. He and his henchman block access from and to the outside world. The townsfolk are all infected with a plague, and rather than given access to medical aid, they are put in a concentration camp and forced to mine for silver, or simply murdered. The town is left to the henchmen and their trollops. This for me is very unlike a western in the traditional American sense. In the American western, there are always the upright people of the town to appeal to, there is a sheriff, or as a last resort the cavalry. People may be run off their land or be claim-jumped, but they are never forced into slave labour.

What we have in Keoma, and in similar movies such as Django and Django Strikes Again, is a fundamentally African western, which is probably why Spaghetti goes down so well on that continent. The town in Keoma is more reminiscent of somewhere in Sierra Leone than the Sierra Nevada. There is total brutal oppression of the populace. There is a reckless attitude towards the value of life. Keoma is likewise a more fitting hero for such a landscape, he is almost a Christ-like figure in the sense that he is betrayed or deserted by everyone in this movie, his family, the oppressed, and the liberated. When Keoma is crucified on a wagonwheel the artisans, politicos, henchmen and whores celebrate a change of leadership in the saloon that was entirely down to him. He is constantly grimy, his hair is totally overgrown, he is hirsute, sweaty, and wears no overshirt. Seeing him shove his pistol down the back of his trousers against his bare back will make the ladies a little queasy.

This movie has a very dreamlike atmosphere. The reason for this is that there is no real cohesive plot. Apparently Castellari threw the script in the bin immediately prior to shooting and adopted a completely improvisational approach. The only consistency to the movie is that of image and emotion. Throughout the movie is laced with the anguish of haunted souls, and punctuated by the slow-mo killings after the fashion of Peckinpah. The improvisation can unfortunately be quite clear. Some of the actors were writing their own lines the night before shooting. The dialogue is not always brilliant to say the least, and it is not helped by Nero's far from accent-less English. However this is about the only film where improvisation could work, simply because it is entirely beneficial to the oneiric, logic-less atmosphere.

The De Angelis brothers' soundtrack will be interesting to some because of the untrained voices. Nero sings quite a lot of it himself, and you will have to suspend disbelief and accept it, because although the man clearly has no singing talent, there is an authenticity to his singing that is refreshing.

I'm not sure what Woody Strode was doing in this picture, but flashbacks of him shooting his bow add to the trippiness. Keoma the movie is not quite as far-out as something by Jodorowsky, but it's on the way.


Definitely, yea El Topo has an influece on this a sign post on the way to the Twilight Zone 8-9/10

« : January 25, 2013, 06:49:50 PM cigar joe »

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« #100 : January 26, 2013, 04:57:07 AM »

Looks like you're in a SW classics marathon! Because of Django Unchainned?


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« #101 : January 26, 2013, 04:09:33 PM »

Looks like you're in a SW classics marathon! Because of Django Unchainned?

Yes


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« #102 : April 29, 2014, 05:54:24 PM »

Film as Art: Keoma
Danel Griffin

http://uashome.alaska.edu/~dfgriffin/website/keoma.htm

***1/2 out of ****

Bleaker westerns than Keoma exist—films more dedicated to the desolation and corruption of the human heart. But I have never come across a sadder western. Oh, this film is sad. At times, it is almost agonizingly so—it is so saturated in disquieting, unsettled sorrow that we find ourselves wanting to turn off our televisions, to venture into our backyards, wiggle our bare toes in the grass, and feel the warmth of the sun on our faces. Yet Keoma propels us forward with its haunted images and pained personalities; it leads us face-first into its sadness by asking us to consider its elegant elegy as a romantic song of praise. Parting remains such sweet sorrow.

            This elegy is for the Spaghetti Western, a genre that existed from the mid-sixties to the late-seventies. “Spaghetti Western” was the phrase coined to embody a decade when Italy took the American West and mythologized it with images and stories that exaggerated its origins into legendary proportions. The resulting six hundred-plus Spaghettis leave little room to doubt that Italy adored the Western—for many directors and actors, the genre was their longevity as well as their passion. This era consequently produced some great directors and wonderful films (Sergio Leone of the Dollars trilogy, Sergio Corbucci of Django); inevitably, it also produced mediocrities of stupefying proportions (the less said about White Comanche or Boot Hill, the better). Regardless of the often questionable quality of these films, the spaghetti western remains an invaluable epoch in film history, not only because of the ways it exposed the West as the most significant American contribution to world mythology, but also because of some of the important actors it introduced to the cinematic arena, among them Clint Eastwood (who himself has gone on to become a major American director), Lee Van Cliff, Klaus Kinski, and Franco Nero. Additionally, films by modern movie giants like Quentin Tarantino, Sam Raimi, and Robert Rodriguez certainly would have never existed in their current forms if not for the brilliantly overplayed qualities of the Spaghetti.

            By 1976, the Spaghetti Western was finished. After hundreds of hits and millions of dollars earned, it had lived out its life; as a craze, it was quickly fading from the psyche of a public now more interested in vigilantes walking city streets, touting Gatling guns instead of six-shooters. Keoma has been called the “twilight western,” because it was intended as the last hurrah—a love letter celebrating all the greatest conventions of the genre and waving sadly goodbye to its brief run as the dominating king of European cinema. Certainly other, cheapo Spaghettis have come out since, but for fans of the genre, Keoma is indeed the last Spaghetti western. It plays as a film painfully aware that its legacy is in its final death throes. The entire movie, in fact, is about such death throes.

            First of all, it is written and directed by Enzo G. Castellari, an Italian filmmaker who made a living off of Spaghettis. Possibly realizing that this would be his last Western, he pulls all stops to include as much homage as he possible can. Every shot is lifted from Leone, Corbucci, and even Peckinpah (whose graphic violence of The Wild Bunch was certainly inspired by the often brutal bloodletting first realized in the Italian westerns). Every plot point is taken from archetypes made famous by other Spaghettis—the lone stranger, the deserted town, the revenge subplot. There is frankly not one original idea in Keoma, but Castellari is not concerned with new ideas; rather, he embraces these tried and true motifs and reworks them so that they play like poetry instead of plot. Consider an early scene where Keoma, an Indian half-breed returning to his childhood town for the first time in a decade, relives a flashback in which he literally interacts despairingly with his childhood self. In this sequence, he reflects on his painful, early years of torment from his white half-brothers, and he appears literally in the same frame with his ghost from the past. The camera filter is foggy and dreamlike; the child and man stare at one another as if the barrier separating the past and present has dissolved, allowing them to interact. Almost every spaghetti western eventually has a flashback, as they all deal primarily with their protagonists seeking justice for being mistreated as children (the best two examples are Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West and Corbucci’s The Great Silence), but no other film better reveals the motivation and passion that these flashbacks provide their heroes. Other Spaghettis stress that these men are haunted by their past, but Castellari reveals here how memories linger like ghosts, driving the men obsessively forward whether they openly desire justice or not.

            The film also boasts a cast of Spaghetti regulars. Keoma (which means "far away" in Cherokee) is played by Franco Nero, who began as the title character in Corbucci’s gothic western Django and was instantly propelled to international stardom. In his day, Nero’s films out-grossed Eastwood’s in Europe, so it is appropriate that he was brought back for this swan song of the genre that made him famous. This is probably his best performance, as a war-scarred veteran of the American Civil War (“I just happened to be on the winning side.”) drifting silently back into his childhood village because he has reluctantly reached the unavoidable conclusion that he has nowhere else to go. Nero’s chiseled good looks and deep blue eyes make it very clear why he became a global superstar; it helps that he is also an actor who is very good at portraying great angst by simply standing still and watching the movie play around him. Two other major Spaghetti actors also have significant roles: William Berger as Keoma’s father, who loves his estranged son more than he ever loved his three legitimate sons who now work for a brutal crime lord, and Woody Strode (famously gunned down by Charles Bronson in Once Upon a Time in the West) as an ex-slave and childhood friend of Keoma’s, now reduced to the town’s token drunk. All three men work hard to create distinct characters that resonate beyond the obvious nostalgia that their pairing brings to viewers familiar with Spaghettis. Strode in particular is excellent as the town’s inebriate, who makes a good foil for Keoma: He is trapped by past guilt and has consumed his pain with alcohol, just as Keoma has countered his own repressed anger with acts of extreme violence.

            To reflect on the plot is to encounter a fitting metaphor for the state of the Spaghetti Western in the late 1970s. Keoma is a legendary gunslinger who returns grudgingly to his old village. His homecoming blindsides everyone, who expected him to wander the world forever. His only excuse for returning: “The world keeps going around and around, so we always end up in the same place.” If this line is an appropriate summation of why the Spaghetti lasted as long as it did, then the town itself clearly represents this film’s need for existence in an age when the Spaghetti was dying: Death has come in the form of a plague, and most of the citizens of the village have been quarantined by the corrupt major and quietly await their death. Yet when Keoma drifts in, he decides to encourage the hope of life again; he does not try to stop the unpreventable plague, but he does instill pride among the dying. What does he do this? Even he doesn’t know—some deeply rooted, inexplicable instinct compels him forward that he cannot placate, so he only obeys its voice.

            The dying village, of course, symbolizes the Spaghetti Western, and Keoma’s mission stands for the genre’s refusal to go quietly into the good night. The western genre has always worked with similar themes, which are what drive Keoma back to “the same place”—the “same place” being the familiar tropes of the western storyline. “The same place” is also perhaps a reflection that even later, post-Spaghetti westerns would continue to embrace the archetypes that the Italians established (and it certainly did, as later, violent epics of Clint Eastwood and Kevin Costner proved). The nagging question that Keoma constantly faces—why did he come back?—is the voice of an audience that has given up on what they perceive as a dead genre. Keoma’s challenge that the dying villagers find courage in their final moments represents Castellari’s determination to end the Spaghetti on the strongest possible note while still accepting that its time has passed. Keoma knows that its strength is in the knowledge of its forthcoming death; it does not want to die, but it comes to terms with its fate and thus relishes the last drops of its life as they slowly, despairingly drain away.

continued....


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« #103 : April 29, 2014, 05:55:43 PM »

 This knowledge of its own fate is ultimately what makes Keoma such a sad experience: Every tiniest detail here understands that it symbolizes a finished era in European cinema. The film’s characters are certainly lost in their personal sadness; its themes deal with impending death; its camera work, which often rests thoughtfully on a character’s conflicted face as its gloomy music plays, is slow and despairing; even the film’s infamously maligned soundtrack, which features a wailing woman who comments unnecessarily on Keoma’s actions, eventually comes across less as annoying screeching and more as a frantic desperation to justify Keoma’s actions as pending apocalypse surrounds him. (Though it is a justified criticism—this music is so piercing that it could make glass shatter; it has its defenders, but it certainly does not make us forget the ethereal opuses of Ennio Morricone.) The action sequences, which are composed as operatically as anything shot by Leone, are not exhilarating, but instead seep with tragedy as they reveal that as every character is killed, so too the Spaghetti Western approaches the precipice of its final moment, when there will finally be no one left to die.

            The most important symbols in the film come in the form of two women, one of which is literally Death (Gabriella Giacobbe), and the other a pregnant woman representing Life (Olga Karlatos) who Keoma takes under his wing and constantly defends. It is difficult not to compare the image of Death and her interactions with Keoma to Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, as both films also feature a disenchanted soldier returning from war to an environment riddled with disease. Both Keoma and Von Sydow’s knight argue relentlessly with Death, trying to justify their disillusionments at the world and blame human frailty for the tragedies surrounding them. Both also find hope in a new Life that comes in the form of a newborn, who signifies that existence, for all its despair, still goes on.

          What’s extraordinary about Keoma is that it compares favorably to Bergman, and it enhances our appreciation for that earlier masterpiece. In Bergman’s film, Death is inescapable but does not hold all the cards—when asked about the divine secrets of the universe, he admits ignorance. In Keoma, Death seemingly knows why the universe works the way that it does, but she is ignorant of the human heart. She can also be one-upped—instead of Keoma pleading with her (as Von Sydow does), Death pleads with Keoma, and asks him why he has come back to restore dignity a town that she has doomed. The film’s final line, regarding the new birth that comes even as death eclipses everyone else, is Keoma’s response to Death: We all die, but Death will still never win, because fresh life replaces those who fall. This is perhaps Keoma’s final, powerful statement regarding the Spaghetti western: It is gone, but its residue will always remain. Tarantino and Eastwood no doubt agree. The film thus suggests that Bergman’s immortal image of the Grim Reaper leading a dance into death is not the final word. We are not required to surrender to transience, even as it appears inevitable. Here, by God, is Keoma, who can utter, “The free never die!” and choose to fistfight Death instead of dance with him. Yes, he will lose, but not before Death desperately beseeches him to give up. Gilgamesh could not have done better.

          Keoma is one of five profound cinematic elegies for the Western. Also on that list: Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, and Eastwood’s Unforgiven. The other four deal more directly with the genre in general—Ford meticulously peals away the layers of fabricated romance surrounding the west and reveals the more mundane truths hidden under the legendary, Leone reflects on the end of the desert ’s lawless freedom as civilization and order progress, Peckinpah drives the last of the violent gunslingers into hellish oblivion, and Eastwood provides the residue of the lone outlaw in a newly-enlightened frontier that has begun to mythologize his type of scum. Keoma concerns itself more specifically with the fairy-tale Spaghetti west, and it uses the best of its motifs to bid adieu. Any of these films play fine by themselves, but it helps to know the genre that created them to understand the depths of their earnestness.  Keoma is not the best of these eulogies (that’s probably Unforgiven, though I’m personally partial to Leone’s film), but it is certainly the most heartbreaking. Above all else, the Italians loved the Western; even if the genre was guaranteed to survive in one form or another in America, Italian filmmakers closing their books to it heralded the end of a wonderful love affair. Keoma represents the end of that affair, and it walks away into the sunset with both proud dignity and bitter tears. For once, the dying have justified their existence in a way that forces Death to grasp her victory with reluctance. 

Cast:
Franco Nero: Keoma
Woody Strode: George
Olga Karlatos: Lisa
William Berger: William Shannon
Death: Gabriella Giacobbe

A film by Uranos Cinematografica Productions. Directed by Enzo G. Castellari. Written by Castellari, with Nico Ducci, Mino Rolli, and George Eastman. No M.P.A.A. rating, but contains plenty of stylized western violence. Running time: 105 minutes. Original year of release: 1976.

Questions? Comments? E-mail me: danel_the_tinman@hotmail.com


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« #104 : April 30, 2014, 01:33:33 AM »

''FILM AS ART: KEOMA'' ?
wow.
One must really love that film to put in on a list with BUNCH, VALANCE, OUATITW...


I hope I'll get it before I die. I tried to like Castellari's work for 35 years now. Can't
remember one single fiilm I won't forget or even could watch in its entirety.
I'm sure there must be some. Surely not KEOMA.
Since the glorious invasion of DVD's I saw quite a lot of films by director's like
De Martino, Lenzi, Di Leo I really enjoyed, although I couldn't stand their work
in the 80s. Always saw the wrong films back then (a question of availability also).

What are Castellari's best films? There must be something for me there too :)
So far I saw about 10-15 I suppose.

I always wished KEOMA was as good as the German 1-sheets:

« : April 30, 2014, 01:36:25 AM mike siegel »


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