Time to Kill (1989 film)

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Time to Kill
Tempo di Uccidere.jpg
French poster
Directed by Giuliano Montaldo
Screenplay by Furio Scarpelli
Paolo Virzì
Giacomo Scarpelli
Giuliano Montaldo
Based on Time to Kill
by Ennio Flaiano
Produced by Leo Pescarolo
Guido De Laurentiis
Starring Nicolas Cage
Ricky Tognazzi
Patrice Flora Praxo
Gianluca Favilla
Georges Claisse
Robert Liensol
Giancarlo Giannini
Cinematography Blasco Giurato
Edited byAlfredo Muschietti
Music by Ennio Morricone
DMV Distribuzione
Ellepi Film
Dania Film
Distributed by Titanus (Italy)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (France) [1]
Release dates
  • September 10, 1989 (1989-09-10)(Venice)
  • October 27, 1989 (1989-10-27)(Italy)
Running time
110 minutes

Time to Kill (Italian : Tempo di uccidere) is a 1989 Italian drama film starring Nicolas Cage, and Italian actors Ricky Tognazzi and Giancarlo Giannini. It is directed by Giuliano Montaldo. The film is set in 1936, when Ethiopia was under Italian invasion, and was filmed in Zimbabwe. [2] [3] It is based on the novel with the same name written by Ennio Flaiano. [4]



Lieutenant Silvestri suffers a toothache and decides to head to the a camp hospital at a nearby construction site. En route to the camp his vehicle has an accident and stops near a rock; Silvestri continues by walking, but no physician is found at the construction site. He is directed by a young man on an allegedly shorter route to the main camp, and on his way through the jungle he meets and rapes a young Ethiopian woman. She stays with him afterwards and he gives her his watch as a present. While they take refuge in a cave Silvestri shoots at a hyena, but the bullet ricochets and hits the woman. He buries her, trying to hide all traces, observing some Ethiopian people arriving nearby. Silvestri continues to the dentist at the main camp, where he tells the story to his superior, who decides to do nothing.

Later his unit kills people in retribution for attacks by insurgents in the area where he recognizes among the dead various civilians he observed the previous day. He also meets Elias, wearing Silvestri's pants (which he seems to have forgotten at the site), and Johannes, Elias' father.

He finally receives news that he has been granted a furlough, but while celebrating with his friend and a superior officer he learns that the white turban of the girl means she was leprous. This and a festering wound on his hand lead him to believe he has leprosy. He seeks out a doctor with the cover story of researching for a book. The doctor explains to him all the signs of lepra, which convinces and horrifies him even more. When the doctor insists on examining his hand, he gives the doctor a false name, and even shoots at him, before boarding the ship to Italy.

As he tries to return to his wife in Italy, Silvestri evades and even steals from his former and finally hides at the father of the girl, Johannes. After he lives through a real or imagined illness, Johannes explains to him that Mariam wasn't ill, and in exchange he tells her father how she really died, leading him to the burial site.

The movie switches back to the actual history of Ethiopia for some moments and Silvestri's former friend tells the aftermath.


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  1. "Time to Kill (1991)". UniFrance . Retrieved 22 February 2023.
  2. "Tempo di uccidere". MyMovies. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
  3. Liliana Ellena. Film d'Africa. Archivio nazionale cinematografico della Resistenza, 1999.
  4. Fabrizio Natalini (2005). Ennio Flaiano: una vita nel cinema. Artemide, 2005. ISBN   88-7575-017-3.