by Jason Suzuki
The soul survivor of a massacre of Mexicans by Confederate soldiers, a young boy is taken in by some Protestants and raised to be a pacifist. As a man (Lou Castel) his step-sister runs off and his search for her leads him to a town where he can confront ghosts from the past. Once he gets hold of a gun he proves to be a natural sharpshooter, earning him the nickname of Requiescant. Mark Damon is wonderfully sinister as the main villain of the film and Pier Paolo Pasolini turns up later in the film as a revolutionary priest.
Requiescant as a Western lead is a great conception. Despite being causally adept at gun slinging, the massacre of his youth linking him with violence, he is for sure a fish out of water and unique soul in the world of saloons and crooked land owners. Still, his arc reminded me a tad of Scot Mary in Day of Anger. A character who goes from novice to skilled killer, in comparison Requiescant’s arc is much more loose, at times he is conveniently adept at participating in the world of violence and other times more believably acting as if he was born yesterday. The more interesting and well thought out element of the film is its use of religion and Requiescant’s relation to it. At times its his religion that saves him from more obvious moments like a bullet stopped by the bible kept in his breast pocket or his kindness to the downtrodden being rewarded later on in the film. By aligning Requiescant with God the film aligns his cause as well. This is what makes the film more enjoyable as at its core it is being informed by its politics, the film progresses because of them.
Unfortunately if you choose to watch the film in Italian with English subtitles, about 51 minutes in the subtitles suffer from a delay. Instead of appearing when a character speaks there is a good one or two Mississippi in between the audio of the words spoken and the appearance of the subs (depending on how fast you say Mississippi). The film is still watchable, the delay never becomes big enough to seriously hinder the experience so it’s tough to say whether this will prove big enough a problem to have to reissue the disc after a fix. Apart from this Arrow give the film a superb presentation on the audio/video front. The score from Riz Ortolani is good enough reason to crank up the volume.
On the disc are two separate interviews, one with lead actor Lou Castel and the other with director Carlo Lizzani. Both go into great detail on the film and confirm the film’s political origins and the politics at the time that went into the film. Not as extras heavy as other Arrow releases fans of the film should appreciate the two interviews and the presentation of the film itself. A career spanning visual essay on Lizzani would have been great (Arrow will be releasing his Wake Up and Kill released right after Requiescant).
While not as re-watchable, to me at least, as other politically minded Italian westerns like The Big Gundown, Requiescant is a great watch and its eponymous lead character is unique to the genre despite being roughly drawn at times. One showdown in particular which utilizes a pair of nooses and some bar stools is just one reason for the spaghetti western fan to check out.
Jason Suzuki is co-editor to Cinema Adrift.