Monday, 1 April 2013

Movie Review: And God Said To Cain... (1970)


A Spaghetti Western with a stale tale of revenge most brutal, And God Said To Cain... gets lost in the darkness of one interminable night, shadows stalking each other as the stock characters wait for the predictable script to run out of bullets.

Former Confederate soldier Gary Hamilton (Klaus Kinski) is released from prison after ten years of hard labour, for a crime he did not commit. Hamilton was convicted of theft after being framed by Acombar (Peter Carsten) and betrayed by Maria (Marcella Michelangeli), and now he wants his revenge.

A wealthy and influential land owner, Acombar has high political ambitions for his son Dick (Antonio Cantafora), who is not aware of his father's immoral past. In the course of one night with a vicious storm battering the town, Hamilton mounts a one-man assault on Acombar, taking on the full complement of his numerous guards before infiltrating the house for a final fiery confrontation.

Klaus Kinski does bring some acting talent to And God Said To Cain..., his pregnant pauses and stares into the distance confirming Hamilton's acceptance of a descent into hell as he embarks on a killing spree to satisfy his craving for revenge. But the threadbare script by Giovanni Addessi and director Antonio Margheriti offers him little to chew on: once the opening scenes of his release from prison conclude, Kinski does little other than fire his gun at hordes of enemies. Peter Carsten brings a Burt Lancaster-type look to the role of antagonist Acombar, but it does not help him much. He spends most of the film smouldering inside his lavish house as the sound of gunfire echoes outside, before finally picking up a weapon to join the merriment.

On paper, setting almost the entire film over one dark night must have seemed like a good idea to someone. But the execution is quite poor and takes the concept to its worst possible destination. Most of the film consists of Hamilton shooting it out in the dark with faceless, barely defined men assigned to protect Acombar. With no opportunity to play with interesting visuals, Margheriti desperately tries to inject some aural style to the repetitive proceedings in the form of a church bell as a doom-laden warning symbol, and birds of prey fluttering overhead signalling impending retribution for Acombar and his family.

There are some sins-of-the-father-catching-up-to-the-son themes articulated too late to leave an impact, and ultimately nothing can save And God Said To Cain... from it extremely limited revenge-in-the-dark scope, as the lumbering action moves with numbing redundancy to a preordained conclusion.





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