segunda-feira, 17 de abril de 2023

The Sicilian (Michael Cimino, 1987)

Giuliano robs from the rich conservative landowners to give to the poor, serf-like peasants, who in turn hail him as their savior. As his popularity grows, so does his ego, and he eventually thinks he is above the power of his backer, Mafia Don Masino Croce. The Don, in turn, sets out to kill the upstart by convincing his cousin and closest advisor Pissciota to assassinate him.

Directed by Michael Cimino

Screenplay Mario Puzo, Steve Shagan, Gore Vidal

Stars Christopher Lambert, Terence Stamp, Joss Ackland, John Turturro, Barbara Sukowa and Aldo Ray as Don Siano of Bisacquino.

The novel is a spin-off of The Godfather (set during Michael's exile in Sicily), however all references to the Corleones are omitted from the film.

After location work was finished, Michael Cimino took the footage straight to his editing room to begin cutting. Cimino did not report any of his progress on the editing as the months passed until he delivered a 150-minute cut of the film and declared that he was done. Under his contract with the producers, Cimino had the right to final cut as long as the film was under 120 minutes long. Cimino insisted that no more cuts could be made and pressed David Begelman and Bruce McNall to present the current version to 20th Century Fox, the film's domestic distributor. Before viewing the film, the Fox executives said to the producers that the film was so long that it limited the number of showings a theater could present each day. It had to be trimmed or Fox wouldn't release it.

When Begelman and McNall relayed Fox's ruling to Cimino, he exploded. "I've been cutting for six months. There's nothing more to take out!" he shouted. The producers responded that there had to be a way to tell the story in 120 minutes. Cimino answered, "Fine! You want it shorter, you got it." A few days later, Cimino delivered a new version of the film in which all of the action scenes were cut out. "In the script a big wedding scene in the mountains is followed by an attack on the wedding party." wrote McNall. "In what we saw the wedding was followed by a scene at a hospital, where all the people in nice clothes were being treated for their wounds. He just cut out the battle." Begelman did not wait till the film ended to get on the phone and immediately called Cimino. Cimino said that his contract allowed him final cut in a 120-minute film and what he gave them qualified.

David Begelman and Bruce McNall discovered that the film was over budget and behind schedule. The problems involved mostly hang-ups with personnel and equipment, nothing on the scale of Michael Cimino's Portal do Paraíso (1980). One exception was some low-level Mafia men who controlled certain locations and union workers. Cimino suggested that Begelman and McNall meet with Mafia men to overcome the impasse. Upon meeting them in a restaurant off the main piazza, the producers discovered that the Mafia men wanted to appear in the film. "Once we all understood," wrote McNall, "the fix was easy. There were plenty of little roles for walk-ons and extras. And if a real role didn't exist, we could pretend to involve some of the guys and throw them a day's pay." Once the problem was solved, Cimino had access to the countryside and the local labor pool.

Michael Cimino wanted Christopher Lambert for the lead role and David Begelman was concerned about a French actor starring in a movie about an Italian hero in an English-speaking movie.

The role of Prince Borsa was offered to Dirk Bogarde.

Gore Vidal did some uncredited rewrite work on the film. Vidal sued both screenwriter Steve Shagan and the Writer's Guild of America to receive screenplay credit. "I was defrauded of my work." Vidal eventually won the suit against WGA. In the DVD commentary of O Ano do Dragão (1985), Michael Cimino said he learned a lot from working with Vidal.

Subs: English, Portuguese and Spanish.

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