OVID.tv Presents SACCO & VANZETTI Film Review – Examining (In)Justice

The camera effortlessly scans the courtroom, grasping all of its occupants in view. We find our place as a man stands, cut to a medium close-up when he fully rises. His gaze reaches past the camera and instead is positioned at those that make up this judicial audience.

This man, Bartolomeo Vanzetti. sternly proclaims his innocence of the charges that he and his associate, Nicola Sacco, are accused of. Vanzetti continues his monologue, speaking of his quest for a just world free of oppression and discrimination. His eyes systematically trace the courtroom, being sure to address all who come to witness as well as judge and try. The camera then slowly takes a few steps back to allow the scale of this speech to grow, now revealing Sacco sitting beside Vanzetti with a sedated and withdrawn guise.

Vanzetti’s controlled gestures reaffirm his own words; standing by his own convictions and ideals in the face of execution. He refuses to renounce his beliefs or accept any plea bargain that maintains guilt. He keeps his gaze locked on those that work to convict him. He understands that he and Sacco will outlast them--for they have become symbols, a strong representation of the social injustice that so often plagues the legal system.

As Vanzetti and Sacco conclude their closing statements, we briefly sit with the courtroom. Looking out on the crowd of people that make up the room, we can feel the silence fill the empty space. The thunderous and damning Gavel then strikes and echoes through the courtroom, filling our ears with dread.

OVID.tv Presents a Gripping Historical Drama

With many dramatic moments such as these, the film Sacco & Vanzetti follows the real-life trial of two Italian-born radicalists who stand accused of payroll robbery and double murder in the 1920s. The trial is portrayed as biased and prejudiced against the defendants due to their political ideologies and immigrant status. As the film unfolds and the trial progresses, we begin to grasp the true injustices inflicted upon Sacco and Vanzetti by the judicial process. Perjury and witness intimidation, along with complete and utter bias are unveiled throughout the trial, sparking outrage outside the court room.

Director Giuliano Montaldo blends real footage of global gatherings protesting the trial, delivering powerful context that pulls us as an audience into the political unrest of the time.  Montaldo’s camera uses many zooms and push-ins to bring us up close and personal with the characters. Like this reviewer, you may find yourself wondering if you could possibly have the unwavering strength of the title characters.


In this writer’s opinion, this film finds its greatest asset in the performances of the cast. Characters fill your screen with authentic displays of resiliency and fiery passion. Gian Maria Volontè’s performance of Vanzetti is especially captivating in his presentation of a stoic character who can display passionate emotion when necessary.

Sacco & Vanzetti is for viewers who either enjoy intense legal dramas, or films based on real historical events. Like this reviwer, you too may be tempted to dive deep into the history that surrounds this film and the contents of its story.


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For more information on this film and how to see it, visit the OVID.tv website for Sacco & Vanzetti

Photos Courtesy of OVID.tv

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3 thoughts on “OVID.tv Presents SACCO & VANZETTI Film Review – Examining (In)Justice

  1. I feel this review highlights the tension throughout SACCO & VANZETTI. Relying on film devices such as the camera’s movement or the reveal of scenery Becker mounts pressure emulating what appears to be an intense film. This intensity is underscored as Becker transports us into characters’ shoes as he writes their POV’s.

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