Gruesome DVD Documentary Replays Mafia’s Greatest Hits
If you happen to be one of those people who considers Godfather 1 and 2 the best movies ever made, then you’re likely also to deem Excellent Cadavers the best documentary ever made. This very informative flick, set primarily around the Sicilian city of Palermo in the Seventies and Eighties, carefully chronicles the history of the Cosa Nostra, revealing it to have been a savage crime syndicate which had infected the Italian political infrastructure.
The film focuses on the ill-fated efforts of a couple of prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, to end the mob’s stranglehold by bringing hundreds of mobsters to justice. At the time that Falcone and Borsellino began their highly-publicized trials, hits for hire were transpiring about once every three days. And the deadly attacks continued during the court proceedings, because many a defendant had an interest in eliminating judges, prosecutors and eyewitnesses.
Nonetheless, 344 crooks were eventually convicted of crimes, although this development did not sit well with mob bosses who were determined to get even with the two attorneys who had decimated their ranks. Sadly, despite a round-the-clock escort of armed bodyguards, the clearing of streets plus a police helicopter overhead wherever they traveled, and living 16 hours a day in a steel bunker reinforced with concrete capable of withstanding a missile attack, the Mafia finally figured out how to get to this pair of intrepid national heroes.
Besides the ill-fated front story, Excellent Cadavers also features actual crime scene photos shot by Letizia Battaglia, a journalist assigned to cover the killings by her newspaper. Though not a feelgood flick by any means, this bittersweet biopic does pay tribute to two a couple of dudes crazy enough not only to take on the mob, but to win for a while, even if they were finally taken out in 1992.
Excellent (3.5 stars)
In English and Italian with subtitles
Running time: 92 minutes
Studio: First Run Icarus