To Kill in Silence (1972) New Developments in an Ongoing Treasure Hunt

Even though I’ve already got a copy, I’ve still been holding out hope these last two weeks for a cleaner print of Uccidere in Silenzio to make its appearance. Yesterday on a whim I googled some variations of its translated name (say, “Killer in Silence,” “killing in silence” and even just “Kill in Silence” etc.) I ended up learning that the production company who made the movie (Nova Rolfilm) stills exists and presumably has a pristine condition copy TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH in their possession. This is evidenced by their “About Us” promo film, uploaded to Vimeo as well as YouTube, containing snippets from the film in restored DVD-caliber resolution. That blew my mind because up to now, I thought the film had never been officially translated. This makes me curious if there really is an English dub somewhere, but even just a cleaner print of the Italian language cut would be a fantastic discovery.

I also found a second source selling used copies of the film which I will link below, and some more publicity stills. I discovered all that, and this newspaper clipping. (It reminds me of all the Him (1974) newspaper ads on the various lost media sites.)

This is the second source I’ve found on the entire internet selling (second hand) officially released home media of Silenzio. This site seems to confirm in its product description what I have long suspected to be true. That being, To Kill in Silence was never re-released on DVD in any region. Look at that simplistic box cover, the red label on the tape…it’s like the perfectly designed little obsolete, curiosity.

The Mysterious Figure of Giuseppe Rolando

So in any case, I wrote the kind folks at Nova Rolfilm an email, hoping something productive might come from it, maybe they’d be willing to sell me a (digital?) copy of their well-preserved print, or put it online somewhere, or at least just tell me more about the film’s production. Fingers crossed. If nothing else, their company bio says that Juan Rolando, son of the original director Giuseppe Rolando, runs things now. Maybe he will at least enjoy knowing that his dad’s film still has an audience. If my correspondence yields fruit, I will share an update in a future blog post, otherwise you can assume I never heard back.

I’m hoping, if they’re palatable to sharing Uccidere in Silenzio, the nice people at Nova Rolfilm might be willing to shed some light on Giuseppe’s other filmography as well. This man, judging by what I can best piece together from scattered references across the internet, was an independent filmmaker with a sincere love of the medium. He worked as Director, Writer and Producer on at least four religiously-slanted films. Besides Uccidere, there are (in reverse order) Suor Anna Rosa (1966), The Green Tree (1966) and Appuntamento in paradiso (1960). These three movies are somehow even less preserved online than the object of my recent obsession; at least Uccidere has some posters, soundtrack releases and a few cursory reviews out there. The others often aren’t even listed as part of Rolando’s filmography on certain websites, only Silenzio is consistently cataloged wherever his name and work are noted at all. (It appears that Suor Anna Rose is the least publicized or remembered of the four; it’s the only one for which I can find no trace at all whatsoever.) There’s even some scattered references to other films which IMDb doesn’t have record of either, including a “Laura un amore così grande” (1988), “Tralci di una terra forte” (1969), and a “Juan, el chico del sueño” (2005–a posthumous release?)

This all leads me to speculate that perhaps Silenzio was the only film Mr. Rolando created to get any kind of widespread release. (And when I say “widespread” that’s a relative term because Silenzio clearly didn’t get too much attention or home video tie-ins outside of Italy.) It does appear that Giuseppe was able to get some fairly big-name Italian talent to work on the film with him–maybe Uccidere was supposed to be his big break into mainstream success? That same Nova Rolfilm promo feature is the only place I have yet to see any evidence these other movies still exist, and I imagine the surviving prints are probably held by his surviving family and company. (As it should be, unless they wish to re-release them to the public, but I do hope steps are taken for long-term preservation. No one’s entire body of work deserves to be lost.)

Apparently, Mr. Rolando passed away in 2001. Not only is this a personal tragedy for those who knew him, but it means there are probably many behind the scenes facets of his films which we will never know. Personally, I was hoping to learn more about Silenzio’s release and success (or lack thereof), if there were any discussions of a less abrupt ending, and what it was like working with Stelvio Cipriani. I will admit that Uccidere in Silenzio is a flawed movie and it’s likely Mr. Rolando’s other work wouldn’t be my cup of tea either. But his was the story of a passionate underdog adding to the rich heritage of the cinema against all odds and for that alone, Giuseppe Rolando deserves more recognition going forward.

According to this source, this is a picture of Giuseppe Rolando. If true, that makes it the only image of him I could find on the internet.

A Final Note on the Soundtrack

I also learned yesterday that the soundtrack album for Silenzio was far rarer than I had first thought, with only a limited 500 copies printed on CD in 2015. Miraculously, there are still some copies of this pressing available for purchase and, for the most part, the prices they command are still very reasonable despite their rarity. There was no contemporaneous soundtrack release with the film itself in the ’70s, except a 45 rpm single of “Antla.* ” That’s a shame because this soundtrack is good enough to where I wouldn’t mind shelling out some green for a vinyl copy.

* Antla’s the really fantastic song that I began my last essay with, and which I’ve embedded again below. I can now say that Antla, bizarrely, doesn’t appear in the movie itself, though it does use and build upon several musical themes from the rest of the film’s score. This is one of several mysteries associated with this project which I’d appreciate an answer to. Did Stelvio present this track to Giuseppe who then decided not to use it, or did Cipriani keep it for himself, as an “off-shoot” of the soundtrack proper? So many questions…

This is what it all comes back to. This haunting piece of music which sparked and feeds my obsessive drive to demystify this humble little movie. I feel comfortable at this point to call it my new favorite piece of music I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear.

EDIT: Since posting this essay, I did manage to find two more of Mr. Rolando’s films online. I’m not going to review these because there are no English subtitles and therefore I have no clue what’s going on.

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