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A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL

Director: DAMIANO DAMIANI

114 minutes| Italy| 1966| Colour| DVD


Zapata (or Tortilla) Westerns are a sub-genre of the Spaghetti Western. They’re essentially politicised leftwing Westerns that use the genre to critique U.S. imperialism, and this is the standard bearer. Scripted by Franco Solinas (who co-wrote The Battle of Algiers), it is an emphatically Marxist reading of the Mexican Revolution and a profound reflection on the savage brutality and indifference to suffering that can consume people caught up in ideological conflict. Revolutionary bandit El Chuncho (Gian Maria Volonte) teams up with American gringo Bill Tate (Lou Castel) to support the insurgent army of General Elias. Unbeknownst to Chuncho, Tate is a mercenary sent to murder Elias and derail the movement. Chuncho and Tate have one of the first openly implied gay love affairs in any Western, which clouds Chuncho’s ability to see Tate as a threat. Violent and affecting, this is one of the finest political films made in any genre. As if that weren’t enough, Klaus Kinski plays a mentally unstable radical priest!

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