One of the Best Spaghetti Westerns
Carlo Lizzani’s “Requiescant” (aka “Kill and Pray”) is considered by many to be one of the best spaghetti westerns. It begins with a slaughter and a young boy traumatized by the killing of his family and friends. A passing pastor and his family find the boy and take him in. He is raised to be religious and in turn has become a pastor himself. All is well until one day he runs into the man that slaughtered his family and he then becomes tempted to stray from his strict religious life to get revenge.
Southern aristocrat George Ferguson (Mark Damon) oversees the massacre of a band of Mexicans whose land he has stolen. The small son of the Mexicans’ leader somehow survives and is found wandering in the wilderness by an itinerant preacher and his single-parent sister. The preacher takes the child on as his own and the boy makes an ideal companion for the preacher’s small niece, Princy. The years pass by happily until the day that Princy (Barbara Frey) runs away with a company of traveling stage-players. The adopted Mexican (Lou Castel) vows to find her and bring her home. His search for her takes him straight to San Antonio where a run-in with Ferguson’s men, who are forcing Princy to work as a prostitute and he sets a chain of events on motion that result in his remembering shocking details from his past.
Castel plays a very reluctant and unassuming young gunman from a religious background. He earns himself the name Requiescant when he immediately apologizes to men that he had to kill and says a prayer for them.
Whenever Requiescant is forced to kill somebody, the mysterious Don Juan (Pier Paolo Pasolini) and three members of his war council immediately show up and appropriate the dead men’s weapons for use in their long-planned revolution. When Juan discovers Requiescant’s true identity, he uses the personal conflict that is present between Requiescant and Ferguson as the trigger that makes the revolution become a reality. It transpires that Juan had fought alongside Requiescant’s father and the young gunman is welcomed back into the Mexican fold as a hero who can help them to defeat their common enemy.
The largely allegorical nature of the show’s political content means that it still works exceedingly well as a hugely entertaining, if slightly surreal, Spaghetti Western and there are some really nicely executed bits of business present here. The cute opening credits’ montage, that is as optimistic and as saccharin as anything seen in an American Western, shows Requiescant and Princy growing up. It acts as gentle relief after the horror of the prologue’s massacre but it also works to show how close and loving this quiet and frugal family is. It makes Princy’s subsequent seduction by the glamour and the bright lights of the traveling stage-players all the more devastating. The scene where Requiescant remembers what happened on the day of the massacre, and lets himself be overcome by a flood of inner rage and temporary insanity, also works well. This is essentially a fairly low-budget affair but undoubted care and technical expertise went into producing it.
The bonus materials include:
– Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
– Optional English and Italian soundtracks in uncompressed PCM mono audio
– Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
– An all-new interview with Lou Castel, recorded exclusively for this release
– Archive interview with director Carlo Lizzani
– Theatrical Trailer
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
– Illustrated collector’s booklet containing new writing on the film by Pasquale Iannone