The Sicilian is a 1987 action film based on the novel of the same name by Mario Puzo, directed by Michael Cimino and starring Christopher Lambert and Terence Stamp.
Tagline: Only one man ever tried to stand alone
Patriot and real-life Robin Hood Salvatore Giuliano
, the infamous bandit who, together with his rag-tag band of guerrillas, attempted to liberate early 1950s Sicily from Italian rule and make it an American state. Giuliano robs from the rich conservative landowners to give to the poor, servant-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 adviser Gaspare to assassinate him.
Cimino sued the producers of the film in an attempt to prevent them from releasing an edited and shortened version of it to theatres, though the suit failed. An extended director's cut
was later released on DVD (see "Alternate versions" below).
Critical reaction to the film was mixed to negative. It holds a rating of 13% on Rotten Tomatoes
, based on eight reviews. Vincent Canby
of The New York Times
said, "Cimino's fondness for amber lighting and great, sweeping camera movements are evident from time to time, but the film is mostly a garbled synopsis
of the Puzo novel." Roger Ebert
of the Chicago Sun-Times
praised Cimino's direction, but felt the film was "dark, gloomy, brooding, and completely confusing. Hal Hinson of the Washington Post
felt it was "unambiguously atrocious, but in that very special, howlingly grandiose manner that only a filmmaker with visions of epic greatness working on a large scale with a multinational cast can achieve.
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 due to copyright issues.
Originally released at 115 minutes in the USA. A 146-minute director's cut
is available on video and at least in Europe as a region 2 DVD.