The Brigand of Tacca del Lupo | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Brigand of Tacca del Lupo 

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Set in the 1880s, during a tense period in the unification of Italy, this 1952 feature by Pietro Germi follows a battalion of northern soldiers as they try to root out southern bandits from the craggy mountains of Calabria. Clearly influenced by John Ford, Germi turns the rugged terrain into his own Monument Valley, his iconographic placement of silhouettes and bodies against the landscape recalling Rio Grande and My Darling Clementine. (Amedeo Nazzari's stubborn, duty-bound commander might even pass for the John Wayne of Ford's cavalry trilogy.) The story, assembled with the help of Federico Fellini, sidesteps the murky politics surrounding the forceful annexation of the south, but Germi shows a documentarian's eye for the dynamics of social groups, especially the villagers' harsh code of honor and revenge. Though the film was largely unappreciated by critics upon its release, its rich detail seems to have influenced both the uncompromising realism of Francesco Rosi and the subversive, otherworldly westerns of Sergio Leone. A 35-millimeter print will be shown. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Tuesday, May 23, 6:00, 312-443-3737. --Ted Shen


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