Cementary Without Crosses Blu Ray review

Maria wants revenge

The Rogers are a nasty bunch, they dominate a town and dish out justice. They are the law until that is the Caine family steal from them and run off. The Rogers boys dish out the law and take revenge by killing Thomas, the eldest and only married of the three brothers of the family. His widow Maria pays Manuel to seek revenge on the Rogers but only after she is warned that revenge never stops, she says she does not care. Her anger spills over and she just wants to see them pay. Manuel goes to town and the saloon the Rogers frequent. While there he shots dead a group of outlaws set on killing the eldest Rogers son. He becomes a hero too them and is given a job. When he kidnaps the familes only daughter however, this unleashes the horror of two familes at war, both out for revenge and both not able to stop the blood letting…

Just hanging around...

Spaghetti Westerns grew from thepost war film world. Where French film was taking the mise en scene and artistic skill of American Film Noir, Italian cinema was replicating the western. Italian obsession with American Western films starring Wayne, Fonda or Peck and directed by Ford or Mann had lead to a healthy market growing inside Italy. The introduction of American actors later on had spurred the films to recieve international attention. This really took off internationally after the success of the three dollars trilogy. Leone was inspired by Japanese cinema and in particular Yojimbo which had itself been internationally recognised. This began in 1964 with A Fistful of Dollars and finished with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in 1966. By the time Cementary came around in 1969, the genre had descended into dark sadism and bleak analogy. The growing horrors of the Vietnam war and political instability world wide had lead to this, as had the growing appetite for violence after the lifting of restrictions by the Hayes code. This influenced much of the world film content as the US market became a very profitable thing to get into.

Hello is it me your shooting at?

Leone’s films were a direct inspiration for Robert Hossein, the film actor who is well known for his role in the crime masterpiece Rififi and who directs and stars here. Not only did he give credit to the inspiration but Leone even directed a scene in the film. Hossein used framing that directly references Leone, as well as Mann and Ford. He also builds tension like Leone did, using sound and the sound scape brilliantly. A favourite is the tingle of cutlery at a critical stage, which builds and builds until it reaches a climax. This is so well done it makes you invest in the scene and the film, totally commited. This could be seen as the average skill of a good director but Hossein then gives a very solid performance. The cast in general are very good, Michèle Mercier in the role of the widow is excellent and her emotive flexibility builds a layer of pathos and horror. When you see the rape scene it will strike you how the performances build this. They add to the texture of the film and its many tidal shifts. This helps the script which is light on much content but has some striking ideas and is not written by Dario Argento as some have suggested.

Now to the point of why these films are so worth even an hour and a half of your time. The film is a bold statement, it is part of a move toward reflecting the growing decay of the movement and the world. I almost cant help but tell you about how later Italian and European Westerns of the period start to look muddy, grotty and grim. This reflection is so powerful that it resonants with the audience as to how the world had dissolved and the early bleached sand, had now given way to lost land and failed development. The new world and its clean, open expanse had died. What was left, as this film brilliantly reveals is self serving and evil people. They have either lost themselves to hubris or worse still, to the land. Powerful stuff and reflect on this as you look at the old ghost town….

  • Brand new 2K restoration of the film from original film elements
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original Italian and English soundtracks in uncompressed PCM mono audio
  • Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
  • Remembering Sergio – an all-new interview with star and director Robert Hossein, filmed exclusively for this release
  • French television news report on the film’s making, containing interviews with Hossein, and actors Michèle Mercier and Serge Marquand
  • Archive interview with Hossein
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet containing new writing by Ginette Vincendeau and Rob Young

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