by guest writer
Serpico (1973) is, in my opinion, Al Pacino’s best movie and one of the most enduring screen presentations of a corrupt society. Sidney Lumet’s film stands the test of time not only because of the subject’s notoriety and actuality, but mostly through its crafty direction. Having been made in only 5 months, it was a real test for both Pacino and the director. To begin with, finding and convincing Dino de Laurentiis to join the production team took some work on the part of producer Martin Bregman, mainly because of the nature of the subject. Choosing Lumet was another great achievement. And then Pacino, who grew out his hair and beard to the longest length seen in the film, and the movie was shot backwards, trimming the actor’s image as they went along. An entirely new challenge for Pacino, who was only at his fourth substantial film role. He does such a great job (this is probably his best performance) that you feel the evolution of the character, and that’s all the more impressive when you think it was done in reverse order.
The director chose to use music only for 15 out of 130 minutes to emphasize the reality of the events. The editing was done almost instantly after the filming day was over to gain time and to be on schedule with the opening. The American society and its core issues are illustrated with honesty in this movie, touching even the most controversial parts that denote deep corruption of the local authorities. What strikes is how a policeman’s integrity is broken to pieces for reasons that relate more with the group’s protection and security in front of the law. Sidney Lumet’s movie echoes to this day through is groundbreaking realism of a doomed society.
photo: film poster | Produzioni Dino de Laurentiis | Artists Entertainment Complex