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Keoma - Parts enjoyable but not anywhere near the quality of the Eastwood Spaghetti Westerns...
A great little existential western, action, art film
Robert W. Grandcolas | Eatontown, NJ United States | 01/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Review of Anchor Bay DVD production of Keoma
Post-sound production sound work. The voices are over-modulated, hissy, gritty and raspy. The voices overpower the ambience sounds. Every other word breaks up as if the actors were to close to a cheap microphone. The effect is that the voices to seem to be disembodied from the actors. The good mood music and songs are so compressed and muddy that all ambience, and dynamics of the music are lost. The background ambience sounds such as horses hoofs or wind or gunshots are compressed, muffled or to low. The film stock although clear, crisp and colorful has a cheap look.
The accents are at times over the top except the Protagonist. He is supposed to be a half-breed Native American - but has an Italian accent. In one scene a man twists and falls seemingly before the gun is fired. There are a couple of obvious novice actors. There are some embarrassing pretentious macho cliches and campy dialogue... That said...Read on...
Keoma is full of style, artistry, imagination, atmosphere, pathos and symbolism. There are authentic looking frontier ghost towns and western paraphernalia, dust storms, rain storms, dark hazy nights, crazed mobs, smoky bars, gritty costumes and a some good, albeit mostly unknown, character actors.
The camera work is magical. The movie is shot through and or framed with in wagon wheels, fire, running water, fingers, tattered rags, fence-posts, stair railings, halfcocked doors, splits and cracks in lumber and bullet holes.
The editing works well splicing in slow motion scenes far better then others - outside of Peckinpah.
The actors fit their rolls well. The four brothers have an incredible look-alike as the adult versions of the four children.
Keoma might be considered an art film, borrowing from the New Testament (the prodigal son, the healing of the lepers, crucifixion, death, rebirth, (in one scene Keoma actually walks on water!), Hamlet (An apathetic and disillusioned Kemoa is visited by the ghost of his father), Macbeth (a reoccurring old Witch tells the future). There are allusions to Bergmann's The Seventh Seal, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Shakespear's King Lear, and Camus's The Plague.
The film is full of well-written vignettes as homage to numerous other westerns. There is also an obvious similarity between the end of Keoma and the end of Ron Howard's the Paper (1994). Nevertheless, Keoma was made 18 years before the Paper.
The story moves ahead keeping you interested the whole time. Flashbacks are built into the story without special effects. The flashbacks are appropriately dreamlike.
In spite of what some say, the strange music fits the macabre off kilter atmosphere of the story. The fault in the music is more in its post recording and sound production. Not the music itself.
The film ends up being violent, funny, strangely beautiful, fantastic, dreamlike, daring and completely original.
If you are able to overlook the postproduction video and sound shortcomings, along with a little campy dialogue, a couple of novis actors and some pretentiousness Keoma is haunting, entertaining, and very rewatchable. It should be among the list of best westerns, spaghetti westerns, and art films. In my opinion this Anchor Bay version of Keoma (especially if you love film making) is very worth owning.
The Kemoa Song, played during the Anchor Bays main menu has the depth, ambience and dynamics that are missing throughout the sound on the rest of the film. Its obvious that since Anchor Bay could do this with this short piece of music - the same could be accomplished during the rest of the film. I wish one day this film's sound and picture quality gets the love and care it so deserves."
A bizarre, bleak western
Diego Cordoba | 09/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is really a great western and is along with Damiani's A Bullet for the General, one of the best italian westerns along with those made by the three great Sergios (Corbucci, Leone and Sollima). What's even more fascinating is how Castellari managed to make a film with no script, making up the dialogs as the shooting went along (even if he copied a bevy of filmakers along the way; try to figure them out as you watch the film), all this adding to it's really bleak and bizarre look. I actually enjoyed the music which was a reference to Altman's great western McCabe & Mrs. Miller. And Franco Nero never looked better and cooler than in this film! Though the film was made at a time when italian westerns were practically dead, as they had already been made into a parody with the Trinity films, Keoma didn't manage to resurrect the genre. Why? Maybe because nobody could figure a way to top this film, which gives you a general idea of how good it is.The DVD copy is absolutely brilliant, as is anything coming from Anchor Bay, and it features a great commentary by Castellari himself (though I find annoying the journalists Anchor Bay send to view the films along with the directors, as any real fan would have a trillion more questions to ask). Overall, a great film that should be (re)discovered by any western fan!"
My favorite western ever.
firstname.lastname@example.org | Rotterdam, Holland | 03/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie surpasses even the Leone trilogy. It is indeed very diferent than those other ones but they seem to be the benchmark when it comes to westerns. It is entirely unique and Franco Nero hasn't made another movie that even comes close to this.
I truly can't stand the music that goes through this movie but somehow even that can't detract from it.
The story is completely absorbing and enjoyable. The casting of the three brothers is great and I especially liked the flashbacks without the use of effects. Pretty cool stuff.
The final showdown is phenomenal and makes me want to watch it again and again.
Give this movie a try but don't go expecting anything resembling an Eastwood western...or any other for that matter. You won't regret it."
Right up there with Leone
anomj7t7 | Quinton, Va United States | 08/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's no exaggeration to say this film ranks right up there (awfully close anyway) with Leone...There was alot care taken with atmosphere and symbolism...This movie isn't a mindless excuse for loads of violence (A la "Navajo Joe") that some spaghetti westerns (love 'em as much as I do) end up being sometimes.Franco Nero is great as a half Indian Christ-like figure named Keoma and Woody Strode gives a wonderfully sympathetic performance as an ex-slave who is his friend and role model since childhood and has now fallen on hard times.Nero is right up there with Eastwood and Van Cleef...a premier Spaghetti western actor who is the epitome of cool.Dont miss this one!"
A great movie given rightfully excellent treatment..finally!
Michael A. Martinez | Fairbanks, AK USA | 07/31/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"KEOMA is arguably Castellari's best movie, up there alongside HIGH CRIME, THE BIG RACKET, THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS, and STREET LAW. Rarely has Castellari excelled so well at creating pure poeticism through editing and camera techniques. The story often feels disjointed or confusing, but overall the experience is very rewarding with plenty of action, an engaging storyline, well-rounded characters, an excellent cast, and a good (if overused) soundtrack by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis. Where the movie really takes off are its use of slow motion and bizarre seemless scene transitions.The DVD is absolutely loaded as it comes with a dazzling commentary by Enzo G. Castellari. Unlike Umberto Lenzi or Dario Argento, Castellari does not have a thick Italian accent so it's relatively easy to understand everything he says. He does trail off at a few points when he really should be giving background on the actors and techniques, but the commentary does not fail in being one of the most INTERESTING I have heard in a long time. It's too bad the journalist who mediated the commentary didn't seem to have a very wide knowledge of the genre, though he was able to recognize Donal O'Brien from ZOMBI HOLOCAUST.The picture quality is beyond crisp, this is the best the movie has ever looked (yeah I know it's a cliche to say this about Anchor Bay DVDs, but this one deserves it). The film is also the UNCUT version which has never been available in the states, and also is presented in its proper widescreen aspect ratio for the first time anywhere ever. Those like me who bought the old import tape from Holland will be blown away because the look of the film is so different than before.The only flaw is the sound, which sounds a tad hissy when the actors are talking. This is partially due to the fact I have a quiet DVD player and have to turn the sound up to full blast just to hear it regularly, so it amplifies the flaws. On a regular player the sound should be just fine.All in all, there is no excuse to miss this movie. It's not so much a Spaghetti Western as it is an action movie with lyrical and poetic subtexts with an almost hyper-real stylized Western setting. Vastly superior to Italy's many Django films though not quite in Sergio Leone territory. This film is so different from Leone's work that it can't really be compared."