salvatore-giuliano-oct-15thRosi here tells the true story of Sicilian bandit Giuliano, who was killed by the police in 1950. In non-linear format we trace the events and treachery on all sides of Sicily’s established order during the post WW2 years of political instability. Giuliano is only seen at a distance and only has a couple of lines – his virtual absence implies the elusiveness of the truths that Rosi seeks. “The birth of post-war Italy is the rabbit that Rosi goes hunting for as the rise and fall of a Sicilian bandit foreshadows postwar Italian politics, revealing corruption and deceit all the way to the top of the political and mafia class. From the Allies pushing to undermine the fascist regime (with the Mob’s assistance), numerous separatist groups waged insurrection against the local government.” DW Mault, CineVue. One of Martin Scorsese‘s top twelve films of all time. (Cert 12)
Dir: Francesco Rosi 123 mins Italy 1962

Programme Notes

Salvatore Giuliano
Italy 1962 123mins Cert 12

You will see very little (and then mostly corpse-like) of Giuliano on screen. Sicily’s ‘most murderous bandit’ (John Dickie in Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia (London, 2004) quoted by Pasquale Iannone) had been assassinated in 1950 and had become a folk hero on the island. According to Dickie, director Francesco Rosi’s decision to keep him largely out of sight played on Sicilian farmer viewers of the film in different ways: they were hardly regular cinemagoers.

“The relegation of Giuliano into invisibility made [the director’s] accusations against the ruling class all the more fierce […]. At the same time, for the ordinary Sicilian public, it confirmed Giuliano’s mythical status” (Dickie).

Here is the problem: how do you portray Mafiosi without prompting some of your audience to glorify them?

It certainly wasn’t Rosi’s intention to film a personal story – a biopic, as it were. He had wanted to call his film Sicily, 1943-1960, which of course suggests that he had contemporary history in mind. Philip French wrote “With the director as voice-over narrator, the film jumps back and forth in time between 1946 and 1951, piecing together the conflict between the competing parties, ranging from the army and the manipulative central government to the Mafia, the regional separatists and self-serving bandits. It’s a demanding but rewarding account of competing social and economic interests in a country in turmoil. It is also a thriller with superbly staged action sequences and a fascinating inquiry into Giuliano’s allegiances and alliances.”

Martin Scorsese, who knows a thing or two about Mafia films, and no doubt also about the challenge of not making gangsters into objects of admiration, rates Salvatore Giuliano as one of his twelve favourite films. See

Acknowledgements: Pasquale Iannone, Salvatore Giuliano, Arrow Films DVD booklet
Philip French,

President of Assize Court – Salvo Randone
Gaspare Pisciotta – Frank Wolff
Salvatore Giuliano – Pietro Cammarata

Director – Francesco Rosi
Producer – Franco Cristaldi
Screenplay – Rosi, Suso Cecchi d’Amico, Enzo Provenzale, Franco Solinas
Cinematography – Gianni di Venanzo
Original Music – Piero Piccione



“I would award this film A*****!”

“From its opening credits to its dramatic ending, this film is a gripping piece of Italian cinema that never ceases to lose its impact. A quintessential masterpiece from one of cinema’s best decades.”

“Gripping from start to finish and so much better in black and white. Not sure I totally followed the action completely, though! Who was who?”

“A gripping and epic documentary [sic].”

“Gripping and still descriptive of today’s world!”

“Excellent restoration but I often found the narrative difficult to follow.”

“Full of sound and fury, also of human interest and drama but full of confusion from the start. How could the court reach a verdict?”

“I found the story difficult to follow but there was a great sense of menace in some of the scenes.”

“A good film but hard going. Reminded me of Jesus and His disciples with Judas Iscariot. Difficult to know who was telling the truth. Good introduction. Coming Soon soundtrack dreary!”

“Lacked the polish of The Godfather but [illegible] film industry.”


“Totally confused!”


A:12, B:14, C:9, D:1, E:0 to give 76%