The Great Silence

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Great Silence is a 1968 Spaghetti Western film that pits a mute gunslinger, fighting in the defence of a group of outlaws and a vengeful young widow, against a group of ruthless bounty killers and a corrupt banker.

Directed by Sergio Corbucci. Written by Vittoriano Petrilli, Mario Amendola, Bruno Corbucci and Sergio Corbucci. English version by John Davis Hart and Lewis E. Ciannelli.
His voice was the silence of death!


  • You were wise to put your trust in the law, boy.
  • Well, Petes. What times we live in... when a black's worth as much as a white man!
  • If anybody draws first... it's gotta be you.
  • And now, boy... I've been waitin' a long time for an amusin' day like this.
  • Calm down, friends. Since when are wolves afraid of wolves?
  • I want the mute to come shoot it out with me. Just him an' me. Tell him if he don't... I'm gonna shoot every one of these people here. My friends won't interfere. So it's my life against every one of theirs.
  • [last lines] There's a bounty on each one. We'll come back and collect 'em later... all according to the law.


  • Once, my husband told me of this man. He avenges our wrongs. And the bounty killers sure do tremble when he appears. They call him "Silence." Because wherever he goes, the silence of death follows.
  • I didn't get the money... but I still want my revenge. I don't want you to work for nothing. There is one who'd give me the money, right away... if I wanted to... do what he wants. Well... what he wants in exchange is too high a price for me to pay... but I'm willing to pay you. Now, before, after, whenever.
  • My husband was a good man. They forced him to steal, to give me a decent life. Because... Pollicut could put a price on his head. He thought if I became his mistress... well, he thought wrong.
  • There wasn't time! I'm sorry. I tried... but that Loco had captured 'em. He'd taken them all as hostages to the saloon. He wants to shoot it out with you, just you and him. He said to tell you... if you don't, he'll kill every one of them! But... you can't, Silence! You're hurt real bad. Besides... I'm certain it's a trap. You can't trust him. Don't get involved. You're just one man. Please don't go. Let's run for it. There must be some place we can go. They're gonna kill 'em either way, they're all gonna die! I don't want you dead. I love you.


  • Charlie: Lucky I didn't hit this critter in the face, or else they couldn't tell who he is!
  • Sheriff Gideon Burnett: Poor old Betsy. Everything I had... was on that horse. The only thing I ever loved.
  • Martin: Cold, ain't it? I reckon I'd head for a better climate if I was you... more like Haiti. Oh, I meant no offence, Pauline, no offence.
  • Henry Pollicut: [shows his mutilated thumb to Silence] Look at my hand. Remember what you did?! You cripple just to spite the men you hate... so nobody'll be able to use a gun, against you. Maybe you ruined my hand, but still, what I come here to get, it won't matter much!
  • Regina: If you come here, Loco, you'll find out I can shoot a pistol, too!


Governor: This manhunt is inhuman. An amnesty will end it, if that's what the voters should decide on. The old West is finished. We must learn to live with people of all races and persuasions, and unite to make a new West. [to his advisers] Yes, use that in my next speech.
Burnett: [jokingly] Yeah, a politician would promise amnesty to the murderer of his own father to win an election!
Governor: Do you infer that I do, sheriff? What do you mean, sir?
Burnett: [sheepishly] N-nothin'. Excuse me, governor. I was just thinking out loud.
Governor: Thinking is not your business.
Burnett: Yes, governor, you're absolutely right, sir.
Governor: Now, get out there, and do your job.
Burnett: Yessir, yessir!
Governor: [pointing to a map] Now, then... here's where you go: Snow Hill, Utah.

[Silence has just killed Charlie]
Deputy Sheriff: Hey, Al. Shall I arrest him?
Sheriff Al: No. Charlie provoked him, and drew first. Well, I guess he had it coming, alright. Stranger shot in self-defence. It's a pretty good way to kill someone; the law can do nothin' about it.
Deputy Sheriff: Charlie was pretty fast with a gun, but this one's faster than the Devil.
Sheriff Al: For all I know, he is the Devil.

Walter: A frozen gun ain't gonna stop us, Sheriff. Up here, we learned by experience to keep our guns good and warm, and we can use 'em! What are you gonna do 'bout it?
Burnett: [holding his rifle like a club] First one of you takes a step, I'll bash his head in!
Walter: [laughs and shoots the rifle out of Burnett's hands] Don't you worry! We don't wanna kill you.
Burnett: And what do you want?
Walter: We just want that horse of yours.
Burnett: You want my horse? There's an awful lot of ya. What are you gonna do with just one horse, anyhow?
Walter: Eat it! [shoots Burnett's hat off his head] We're gonna feed off that beast for at least a week.

[Burnett, Loco and Silence are riding the stagecoach to Snow Hill]
Burnett: [referring to Loco's wanted posters] Hey, which are they? According to these posters, there ought to be four. Who are the two on top?
Loco: The second and the third... there's another one, waiting to be buried, soon as I've been paid.
Burnett: You know what it says here? "Dead or Alive"... I'll lay a bet you never take 'em alive.
Loco: Those are dangerous men, Sheriff. They're enemies of God and Man. The things they preach... what if one had his say in court and got acquitted? They'd be all be using the courts to spread, whatchamacallit. Nah, it's our patriotic duty to exterminate 'em!

[Loco is having dinner with Pollicut and Martin]
Loco: No - if you want me to kill him, put a good price on his head.
Pollicut: You ought to do this for nothin'! It's in your own interest, Loco. Have you forgotten who he is?
Loco: I know him. He picks a fight, and when somebody draws, then, he shoots them! [chuckles] Then the law calls it "self-defence". Now, I'm no fool... he's too fast for me.
Pollicut: But you're the man he's here to get. He's paid by Pauline. He'll pick a fight with you.
Loco: I can control my temper; he won't shoot off my thumbs. [wiggles his thumb in front of Pollicut, who cringes] Uh-uh. And he ain't gonna kill me in self-defence, either. [chuckles] What did you want to get rid of Pauline's husband for? I shot him 'cause that's what you paid me for, but nothin' more. If you want people shot, you pay.

[Silence remembers the first time he encountered Pollicut - after a bounty killer disguised as a Sheriff shot his parents]
Silence: Mama! Mama! Mama! [cries]
Fake Sheriff: [referring to Silence's father] Well, Pollicut? You got no call to worry about Gordon now.
Pollicut: Maybe not. But the kid...
Fake Sheriff: Nah... [pulls out a knife] He'll never talk again.

[Pauline has arrived at Pollicut's store to raise her payment for Silence]
Pollicut: Pauline. A pleasure to see you. What can I do for you? Is there something you wanna buy?
Pauline: I didn't come to buy. I came to sell.
Pollicut: And what are you sellin'?
Pauline: Our house. It cost at least five thousand dollars. I'll give it to you for a thousand... 'cause you like cheap things.
Pollicut: Well, come in. Mind the store, Martin.
[He leads Pauline into his office, and pulls a wad of cash out of a safe]
Pollicut: May I ask what you need this for? It's a pretty good sum.
Pauline: No.
Pollicut: I shouldn't have brought it up. Just the same... is this to pay a man for a certain crime?
Pauline: That's my business. Just tell me "yes" or "no"? Are you interested in my offer?
Pollicut: Not really. You know you shouldn't crawl for money like this. I wouldn't take advantage of your situation for a thousand dollars. I want you to have it...
[He hands the money to Pauline and forcefully kisses her. She pushes him off her, spits at him and discards the money]
Pauline: I wish it were poison! [leaves]

[After Silence has shown his marksmanship skills with his Mauser]
Burnett: Good shot - too good. I'd sure like to know what a man who can shoot like you is doing, hanging around here. You ain't by some chance one of them no-good bounty hunters, are ya? [Silence doesn't respond] I asked you a question, so answer. I'm a Sheriff. Well? Where you come from? How long you intend to stay? [getting annoyed] If you think you're bein' smart, just watch yourself. Now then, stranger, let's have it... [grabs him by the arm]
Pauline: He can't answer, Sheriff. He's a mute.
Burnett: [turns to Silence, embarrassed] Well... I'll be. At least you coulda told me. I mean... you coulda let me know, ya know what I mean?

Burnett: [to Loco and his card-playing friends] I knew this fella once, from Cindrel Rock. He was second-cousin to a friend of mine who used to be in my troop. He was a joker, like you. [to the bartender] Whisky.
[Sometime later...]
Burnett: He used to complain about the cold. So, one day, I decided to do that boy a favour. And I made him a nice overcoat, out o' wood. It cured him o' sneezin'. [chuckles] I reckon I won't forget him... if I live to be fifty.
Loco: The fellas and me are wonderin' what possessed you to tell that story.
Burnett: Well, if one of you gentlemen feels a sneeze comin' on... best let 'er fly, outsida town.
[Loco chuckles in amusement]

[Loco is aiming a rifle at Burnett as he stands on a frozen lake]
Burnett: Loco! Now listen: killing a Sheriff will cost you plenty. If I were you, I'd think it over!
Loco: Uh-uh. I don't need to. You're on the side of the law. We, we're on the side of the law of survival... survival of the fittest!
[He shoots part of the lake. Burnett screams as he falls in]

Loco: Now, in Snow Hill... we can't miss a couple of opportunities. First, all those outlaws in the mountains are headin' there. There's a modest price on their heads. Still, it's a powerful lot... when you add 'em all together, and it's nice and legal, too. But then we have this other one...
Sanchez's Brother: Who's that?
Loco: The mute who shoots thumbs off. The one who hates bounty killers...
Sanchez's Brother: Uh-uh. Since you murdered Sheriff Burnett, I don't go for that.
Loco: But it was the mute... who killed your brother.
Sanchez's Brother: [angrily] The hell did you say?!
Loco: [beat] He had no chance to defend himself.
Sanchez's Brother: C'mon!
[The bounty killers ride to Snow Hill]

Ending Title Card[edit]

  • The massacres of 1898, year of the Great Blizzard, finally brought forth fierce public condemnation of the bounthy [sic] killers, who, under the guise of false legality, made violent murder a profitable way of life. For many years there was a clapboard sign at Snow Hill which carried this legend: MEN'S BOOTS CAN KICK UP THE DUST OF THIS PLACE FOR A THOUSAND YEARS, BUT NOTHING MAN CAN EVER DO WILL WIPE OUT THE BLOOD STAINS OF THE POOR FOLK WHO FELL HERE.

About The Great Silence[edit]

  • People don't go to the cinema to see love scenes. Buñuel was right when he said the most embarrassing thing, for a filmmaker, is to point a camera at a couple kissing. Nothing is more banal than a kiss. Generally you can't have love scenes in stories which are action-based – though in The Great Silence I shot quite a beautiful love scene between a black woman and a mute. There was something very beautiful and very morbid about it. This was the only love scene I ever included in a film of this genre, where the women are generally bizarre.
  • Although The Big Silence is [Corbucci's] best film, it has never been shown publicly here or in the United States. It's easy to see why. The film, like most Italian westerns, is incredibly bleak and pessimistic; but worse, it has the most horrible ending of any film I've ever seen ... The beginning of The Big Silence is a little ragged, but bear with it. Once you're aboard the stagecoach with Trintignant and Klaus Kinski – who plays the politest murderer out west – you're in for an amazing ride. The music is by Ennio Morricone: it's a great and very unusual score.
    • Alex Cox in his introduction to The Great Silence on Moviedrome, 1990
  • Corbucci's heroes can't really be called heroes. In another director's western, they would be the bad guys. And as time went on, Corbucci kept de-emphasizing the role of the hero ... In Il Grande Silenzio, he has Klaus Kinski playing a villainous bounty hunter. I'm not a big fan of Kinski, but he's amazing in this movie — it's definitely his best performance in a genre movie. The hero of Il Grande Silenzio is Jean-Louis Trintignant, playing a mute. By taking his hero’s voice away, Corbucci reduces him to nothing. And Il Grande Silenzio has one of the most nihilistic endings of any western. Trintignant goes out to face the bad guys — and gets killed. The bad guys win, they murder everybody else in the town, they ride away and that's the end of the movie. It's shocking to this day. A movie like (Andre de Toth's) Day of the Outlaw, as famous as it is for being bleak and gritty, is practically a musical in comparison to Il Grande Silenzio. Silenzio takes place in the snow — I liked the action in the snow so much, Django Unchained has a big snow section in the middle of the movie.
    • Quentin Tarantino on Sergio Corbucci and The Great Silence's influence on Django Unchained, 2012
  • I play the part of a mute. The audience won't realize it because during the first two-thirds of the film, there's no reason for him to speak. I like it because in most Westerns, they talk too much and say nothing.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Wikipedia has an article about: