By Staff Writer Sawyer Pollitt.
The iconic sounds of chugging trains, braying horses, tense gunfights, and powerful trumpets played out from the speakers of LARTS 117 on Thursday night as the second film in this semester’s Italian film series, A Bullet for the General began to play. Filling the seats were students of history and Italian, as well as interested community members.
Hosted by Dr. Rose Faccini and Dr. Matthew Sneider, the Italian film series is presented by the Italian studies department and has been a common occurrence since Spring 2016 when the event was founded. This semester the focus of the series is on the Italian westerns of the 1960’s. In the past the series has covered heavy topics such as immigration, terrorism, and the mafioso. Lately, the focus has shifted to genres such as horror, comedy, and now westerns.
The Torch sat down with Dr. Faccini and Dr. Sneider to learn more about the Italian studies department and the Italian film series. Dr. Rose Faccini, professor of Italian language and literature at UMass Dartmouth, spoke on the fact that the Italian contribution to the western genre often goes unnoticed by American audiences “The whole spaghetti western thing that people kind of know a little bit about, but not really what kind of things they reflect in Italian society, American society, and what kind of impact it has”.
Often given the derogatory name of “Spaghetti Western”, these films were responsible for revitalizing the Western genre and popularizing the idea of the stoic “man with no name” style cowboy, made famous by Clint Eastwood, that we all know and love today. A Bullet for the General was directed by Damiano Damiani and showcased the acting talents of Gian Maria Volonté as El Chuncho, Lou Castel as El Niño, Klaus Kinski as El Santo, and Martine Beswick as Adelita.
The film itself was an enjoyable experience. Following the lives of a rag-tag band of rebels turned banditos as they travel Mexico to collect weaponry to sell to the mysterious General, a wild card is introduced to the mix in the form of an American with a shadowed past and a singular goal to earn money and meet the General. This movie, dubbed in English, is filled with the kind of action that one comes to expect from the western genre. It can be slow during periods of long exposition, but these scenes are punctuated by riveting action sequences and an outstanding performance by the whole cast.
Dr. Matthew Sneider, professor of medieval Italian history here at UMass Dartmouth, is able to offer insight and give a historian’s perspective on many of the events of the film. After the movie concluded a Q&A session was held where Dr. Sneider, touched on the fact that the themes in A Bullet for the General mirrors the socialist sentiments of the era, with the idea of aiding the poor and downtrodden.
The Italian studies department also holds a number of talks in conjunction with their films. On November 5th, a talk with Dr. Marco Natoli, professor of Italian at UMass Boston, was held. This talk looked into the filmography techniques used in the genre of Italian westerns, and also how Italian culture specifically was able to leave its mark on the genre.
If Italian culture or history piques your interest, or if you’re just into cowboy movies, the next showing of the Italian film series will be on December 5th at 7pm in LARTS 117, where a screening of Once Upon a Time in the West will take place. Do be warned however, this film has a runtime of just under three hours