Friday, 1 March 2013


The great Franco Nero plays Keoma.

Reputed to be the last notable spaghetti western, coming after the classic period from 1963 until 1973, Keoma (1976) is directed by Enzo G Castellari probable best known in the UK for The Inglorious Bastards (1978) a film which inspired Quentin Tarantino to make his World War 11 drama Inglourious Basterds (2009). Keoma is considered by some to be one of the best of its genre. It stars Django himself Franco Nero as the title character, a half Indian, half American, who has just returned from the Civil War to find that his two half brothers have joined up with an outlaw gang that is terrorising the local inhabitants of a small western town close to his family home. The plague has developed and some of the town folk have been segregated in an old mine workings by the leader of the outlaw gang, a ruthless man called Caldwell. He refuses to allow medicine to reach the inflicted. Keoma also discovers that his old friend and mentor George (Woody Strode) has turned to alcohol and has become the town drunk. Developments become even more complicated when Keoma falls for Lisa a plague victim who also happens to be pregnant!

You can tell that Caldwell is not the nicest man your likely to meet!
The movie was shot in countryside only one hour’s drive from Rome. It has the strangest of soundtracks, a sung narrative that not only tells what’s going on but also lets us know our hero’s hidden thoughts. Also we get a mysterious old woman who represents death, appearing at various points in the film and imparting various words of wisdom to Keoma.  Certainly not comparable with a standard western, in fact the story is very slight but the imaginary is excellent and it has great use of flashbacks. It did have a story but no script so the actors and director collaborated, with Castellari shooting the first scene and the last scene on the first day of filming and shooting the remainder of the film in between writing the screenplay as the film proceeded!  The movie was greatly influenced by the work of Ingmar Bergman and Sam Peckinpah’s classic 1969 western The Wild Bunch. Incidentally the name Keoma was found in a book about the American Indians and it means freedom, which as the director has said is the real meaning of his movie.

Keoma faces the evil Caldwell and his band of bloodthirsty cut throats. 

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