Monday, 22 May 2017

Alternate Best Actor 1968: Jean-Louis Trintignant in The Great Silence

Jean-Louis Trintignant did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Gordon aka "Silence" in The Great Silence.

The Great Silence is a fairly effective spaghetti western, though its ending is more than a little questionable, about a bounty hunter who will only ever shoot in self-defense.

A common factor in any spaghetti western is the issue of dubbing and the various languages of those involved particularly the star who often was of a different nationality than the majority of the supporting cast. The Great Silence found a way away from any complications of this by having the lead character played by Jean-Louis Trintignant a mute. This is an interesting choice and makes the man named Silence a rather stoic hero even as stoic western heroes go. This forces many characters around Silence to describe Silence leaving himself mostly there for the most intense action. This actually goes to such a degree that one could argue that Klaus Kinski as the chief villain Loco, also a bounty hunter but without a code, is even co-lead with Trintignant since the film focuses almost as much on him as it does Silence. The casting itself also does seem to be an odd thing though with Trintignant certainly not the first man you'd expect to see in any type of western.

Trintignant though certainly offers quite the unique face for a western which obviously comes in handy for this part and it works in creating a certain atypical skew for the character. In that Trintignant carries a steely stare but not quite in the intense way you may expect. There is instead a certain detachment in his stare that actually does work effectively in creating both a menace in regards to the character but also suggests the state of Silence. This is as Trintignant does convey a certain damage right in the man as he portrays almost an underlying pain in Silence not as a man who is fine with his Silence but is rather pained by it. Trintignant handles this sort of detachment rather well as there is something innately broken within his performance while this also never seems to compromise his stance as sort of the hero to the western. In fact Trintignant makes something seem all the deadlier by that detachment as he guns down, not that he is wholly unfeeling, yet rather a no voice to speak any possible distress.

Although for much of the film Silence has the upper hand since he easily kills all who oppose him but this ends when he comes in contact with Kinski's Loco, who rather ironically is just a little too cool headed to get set off by Silence's attempt to pester him into a fight. This finally puts Silence off his course and Trintignant does successfully explore past the strictures of the type as the tides turn against Silence. Trintignant in these moments captures the more emotional rawness of his state through his eyes particularly in the scene where Silence thinks back to when his family was massacred. The film though again messes with its perspective a bit too much perhaps as it almost seems to become Loco's story and it is only in that view where the film's excessively bleak ending makes any sense. An ending where its silver lining is a bluntly stated message that reveals how the villains actions eventually led to good reforms down the road, which offers little solace. This does reduce Tritntignant's performance's impact a bit by the end of the film. He's still good particularly in revealing the final anguish in Silence in the final duel, yet rather strangely in the end Silence ends up being overshadowed in his own film by his rival Loco, and Tritnignant ends up being a bit overshadowed by Kinski.

50 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Ratings/Thoughts on the rest of the cast.

1. Lancaster
2. Von Sydow
3. Davis
4. Mifune
5. Trintignant

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...


1. Lancaster
2. Von Sydow
3. Davis
4. Mifune
5. Trintignant

Calvin Law said...

1. Davis
2. Von Sydow
3. Lancaster
4. Mifune
5. Trintignant

Charles Heiston said...

I very much liked him.

1. Lancaster
2. Von Sydow
3. Davis
4. Mifune
5. Trintignant

omar said...

1. Lancaster
2. Von Sydow
3. Davis
4. Mifune
5. Trintignant

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

My exams are over!:)
Except for Biology, they all went excellently.

Calvin Law said...

Tahmeed: that's great to hear!

RIP Roger Moore

Luke Higham said...

RIP Roger Moore and to the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing.

RatedRStar said...

RIP Roger Moore and to the victims of Manchester.

Calvin Law said...

And of course the victims of Manchester. I should have mentioned them as well, just didn't come to mind on here.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

RIP Roger Moore and the victims of that dreadful attack. It's sad that atrocities like this really don't surprise anyone anymore, and are just one more headline :'(.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Was Meryl Streep a 5 for Sophie's Choice on your first viewing, because I saw a comment you posted on one of Fritz's old reviews and you thought she was absolutely brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Louis what were your thoughts on the cast for the new Twin Peaks so far? also is the new one any good?

Charles Heiston said...

R.I.P Roger Moore, and of course the victims of Manchester.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: He said he loved it apart from Michael Cera.

Anonymous said...

R.I.P. Roger Moore and the victims of Manchester.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Wolff - 3(He offers sort of the right harried quality in his portrayal of the sheriff trying to keep the various intense bounty hunters, he brings an innately likability to it offering a bit of character to a somewhat throwaway role.)

No one else really stands out except Kinsi's who I am saving for the moment.

I suppose so.

Anonymous:

In terms of the acting the standouts so far have been MacLachlan, Matthew Lillard, and Lynch himself. Though all the returnees have been splendid in fitting right back into their old roles, and all the newcomers, which seem to consist of every character actor in America, have been welcome additions, well except the aforementioned Cera.

Anonymous said...

Louis what are your thoughts on Lenny Von Dohlens performance on TP?.

Calvin Law said...

Was surprised to see your thoughts on Show Me a Hero, I'm kind of in agreement. I thought the scenes without Isaac were alright, but he really was the crowning achievement of the show. Damn it Hollywood, give him good stuff to work with.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, this isn't a request, but a suggestion, could you maybe think about reviewing Joaquin Phoenix in I'm Still Here? At the very least, it'd probably be an interesting performance to examine.

Charles Heiston said...

Louis: Your top 10 Clint Eastwood acting moments.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the third, fourth and fifth episodes of Silicon Valley's 4th season.
Also, your top 10 favorite movie quotes of all time. Mine would be-

1. "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer"- The Godfather Part II
2. "If I take you out, there'll be ten more lawyers to take your place tomorrow. They just won't come on the bus, that's all!"- LA Confidential
3. "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore"- Network
4. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn"- Gone with the Wind
5. "Get busy livin', or get busy dying"- The Shawshank Redemption
6. "My fuhrer! I can walk!"- Dr Strangelove
7. "You brought two too many"- Once upon a Time in the West
8. "I absolve you all"- Amadeus
9. "ATTICA! ATTICA!"- Dog Day Afternoon
10."Sometimes, it is the very people no one imagines anything of, who do the things no one can imagine"- The Imitation Game c

Michael McCarthy said...

1. Charles Bronson
2. Malcolm McDowell
3. Burt Lancaster
4. Lee Marvin
5. Vincent Price

1. Burt Lancaster
2. Ossie Davis
3. Max von Sydow
4. Toshiro Mifune
5. Jean-Louis Trintignant

Louis: By the end of this year, is there any chance of you moving Fonda to supporting?

Luke Higham said...

2. Davis
3. Sydow

Anonymous said...

Louis: While Heston did fine, would you have preferred Douglas (who was interested in the role) as Ben-Hur?

Anonymous said...

1. Lancaster
2. Davis
3. Sydow
4. Mifune
5. Trinignant

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: He likely could've been a better choice, but I'm perfectly happy with Heston.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Would you consider upgrading the following-
Alan Arkin in The Heart is A Lonely Hunter
Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur
James Stewart in Harvey

Luke Higham said...

Tahmeed: Louis said Arkin was a possibility.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: Actually, he would've been the perfect choice if it was the late 40s/early 50s but if he was cast in '59, then Boyd would have to go as well, since there's a 15 year age gap between he two.

Charles Heiston said...

Anonymous: I quite liked Charlton Heston in the title role. I'd give him a 4.

Charles Heiston said...

Louis: If you have time, could you upgrade O'Toole's review for the Lion in Winter.

Luke Higham said...

*the two.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I guess after Louis finishes both lead and supporting for this year, O'Toole is going to be #2 behind Bronson, and Fonda will be his #1 or #2 in supporting.
Unlikely as it is, I hope O'Toole becomes Louis's win again.

Charles Heiston said...

Tahmeed: I hope O'Toole retakes the win too. I love him there.

Luke Higham said...

I can't see it happening guys, though he should remain in the top 5.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Douglas sure would have been perfect in the late 40's. Who do you think would have been cast in Boyd's role if Douglas had been cast?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Luke: I'm sure he'll remain in the top 3 at least, I remember Louis saying like a year ago that he and Fonda are basically on the same level.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: Dirk Bogarde or Tony Curtis.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Also, massive correction on my own top ten movie quotes list
*4. 'You have bled with Wallace, now bleed with me' - Braveheart

Calvin Law said...

I actually consider Fonda supporting as well, Michael, and he'd actually be #2 to Robards for me.

Louis: would Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern in True Romance made it a better film for you? Cage in particular makes sense because I can imagine him being a bit like Clarence in real life with his love of comic books and all.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'm still not sure if i consider Fonda co-lead or not.

Charles Heiston said...

I'm fairly confident that i consider Fonda co-lead with Bronson.

Matt Mustin said...

I haven't actually seen the film, so what's the argument for Fonda being lead?

Charles Heiston said...

Matt: To me he's treated as a lead character. He's focused on and is essential to the main story between Harmonica/Frank. And i think they have equal screen time up until the very end. It's just my interpretation and i have no problems with people calling him supporting as he easily could be considered.

Alex Marqués said...

Speaking of lead/supporting, does anyone else think Sarsgaard could be considered co-lead for his role in Shattered Glass?

Robert MacFarlane said...

Alex: He's definitely borderline.

Matt Mustin said...

I have a very loose definition of what constitutes lead or supporting.

Michael McCarthy said...

Every time I watch Once Upon a Time in the West, I try very hard to see Fonda as a lead performer, but it never quite sits right with me.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

von Dohlens - (His performance is part of the reason why I love Lynch's work so much. In that even among all the violence, humor, and strangeness there can still be a real emotional impact. That was found in von Dohlens's performance as we first meet him as he brings this sort of quirky charm to his role making Harold just seem like an unassuming guy at first. He though effectively brings in the red flags to his performance in revealing such painful desperation in his performance. What is so remarkable though is that he ends up bringing such humane sorrow that is rather heartbreaking showing that Harold wasn't really scary by the end, just a lonely disturbed man who was essentially misused.)

Matt:

I could.

Charles:

Eastwood:

1. "I'm here to kill you Little Bill" - Unforgiven
2. Nightmare - Unforgiven
3. On killing - Unforgiven
4. Wales and the wounded boy - The Outlaw Josey Wales
5. Stadium - Dirty Harry
6. The drover - Unforgiven
7. Waking up - The Beguiled
8. 6 shots or only five - Dirty Harry
9. "You gonna pull those pistols?" - The Outlaw Josey Wales
10. Wounded soldier - The Good the Bad and The Ugly

Tahmeed:

"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Amadeus
"Forget it Jake, It's Chinatown" - Chinatown
"You Ain't No writer Fink, You're a God Damn write off" - Barton Fink
"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads." - Back to the Future
"You Brought Two Too Many" - Once Upon a Time in the West
"You've Bled With Wallace, Now Bleed With Me" - Braveheart
"I'm as mad as hell" - Network
"You're an inanimate fuckin' object!" - In Bruges
"Deserve's got nothing to do with it" - Unforgiven
"Nothing is written" - Lawrence of Arabia

Yes for Arkin and Heston.

Anonymous:

I don't think so because of just how perfect the dynamic between Heston and Boyd was.

Calvin:

Most definitely. I feel Cage would have kept Clarence likable later on where Slater ended up coming off oddly smug.

Michael:

Maybe, he is in a grey area, I'll see how I feel after I re-watch the film.