To achieve a masterpiece with no main character and a jarring non-chronological storyline, Rosi borrowed documentary techniques and the attitude of a journalist.
He and his film crew descended on Sicily to tell the story of the notorius seperatist/mafia thug and bandit Giuliano.
But instead of bringing a cast, Rosi recruited locals. These were people who could authentically portray Sicily and the context surrounding Giuliano's killing.
The result is mezmerizing. Rosi captures sunbleached Sicily and it's people masterfully.
What's more, his refusal to tie the storyline neatly together allows him to show the maddening intricacies of Italian and Sicilian politics.
As the movie opens, we see Giuliano dead. We see him again several times throughout the film, always in his white rain coat, clutching a rifle and scrambling from one moutain hideout to the next.
But the movie itself is only anecdotally concerned with Giuliano. Instead, the viewer follows the course of Sicily's history and what Giuliano's deeds and death reveal about the island's political structure.
In the brilliant commentary track, Peter Cowie points out that some of the political subtleties and loose ends that Rosi uncovered with this film are still under investigation. Specifically, the May Day massacre of Sicilian communists may have been a Christian Democrat operation with ties to the mafia.
The fact that Rosi's film is 40 years ahead of historians is instructive. As Cowie says, this is investigative filmaking.
So with such an authentic artful recreation and a facinating commentary track, this DVD comes recommended.
However, viewers who tend to dislike disjointed, non-chronological, narratives or do not have the patience to soak in this film's nuance should probably stay away.