int.: 100 Horsemen. Sog.: Vittorio Cottafavi, Giorgio Prosperi. Scen.: Vittorio Cottafavi, Jose Maria Otero, Giorgio Prosperi, Enrico Ribulsi, Jose Luis Guarner. F.: Francisco Marin. M.: Maurizio Lucidi; Scgf.: Ramiro Gomez. Mus.: Antonio Perez Olea. Int.: Mark Damon (don Fernando Herrera), Antonella Lualdi (Sancha Ordonez), Gastone Moschin (frate Carmelo), Arnoldo Foa (don Gonzalo Herrera), Wolfgang Preiss (Jeque), Barbara Frey (Laurencia), Rafael Alonso (Jaime Badanos), Hans Nielsen (Alfonso Ordonez, l’alcade), Mario Feliciani (sceicco Alben Gabon). Prod.: Domiziana Internazionale Cinematografica, Procusa Productores Cinematograficos Unidos, International Germania Film. DCP. D.: 110’. Bn.
Presented at Cannes outside the official selection to a small audience of mostly Cottafavi’s friends (including Freda and Pasolini), I cento cavalieri shone brighter, as can happen, than many of the competing films. […] Narrated like a dramatic and ironic chronicle of events, the film tries to describe seriously but not pompously the mechanism of collaborationism and the resistance movement and what is universal about these two concepts. For this reason, the images have the quality of a fairy tale. What is exciting about Cottafavi’s style and what makes it valuable is his interest in making popular but responsible films, something that is more evident here than in Hercules and the Haunted Women. Sophisticated form, the supple beauty of movement and colour, deft narration are not ends unto themselves but a suitable vehicle for a kind of humanist idea that the filmmaker never loses sight of. By constantly and skillfully attending to this need, this wonderful film occupies a sweet spot between film-as-entertainment and film-as-social commentary: I cento cavalieri is one of the rare historical adventure films that can be rightly defined as ‘modern’. One of the film’s basic qualities is proof enough: the importance of the word, or discussion and intellectual disagreement. For once, action does not mean an explosion of gratuitous violence simply to meet the needs of the genre but the visible result of a moral and political decision: the film is consciously built around long dialogues that alternate with deliberate actions resulting from them.
Jean-André Fieschi, P.-S. À Cannes: Le cent cavaliers, “Cahiers du cinéma”, n. 180, July 1966
In I cento cavalieri I tried to apply the canons of the ‘new epic’ to the medium of cinematography. That’s why the film begins and ends with a monologue by the painter directed at the audience. It’s why tragedy and farce alternate with each other until they appear one and the same. It’s why the actors do not identify with the characters, rather they represent them in a detached fashion. The dialogue comes from outside the historical setting, and its meaning tends to be ambivalent, so as not to permit the viewers the option to escape into the fairytale. They are forced to remain outside the story and to attempt to clarify the meaning of the events and ideas, and in the end to make a choice.
Vittorio Cottafavi, in Paul Gilles, Vittorio Cottafavi parie des Cent cavaliers, “Cahiers du cinéma”, n. 207, December 1968