Time to Kill (1989 film)

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.[1][2] It is based on the novel with the same name written by Ennio Flaiano.[3]

Time to Kill
Tempo di Uccidere.jpg
French poster
Directed byGiuliano Montaldo
Produced byLeo Pescarolo
Guido De Laurentiis
Screenplay byFurio Scarpelli
Paolo Virzì
Giacomo Scarpelli
Giuliano Montaldo
Based onTime to Kill
by Ennio Flaiano
StarringNicolas Cage
Ricky Tognazzi
Patrice Flora Praxo
Gianluca Favilla
Georges Claisse
Robert Liensol
Giancarlo Giannini
Music byEnnio Morricone
CinematographyBlasco Giurato
Edited byAlfredo Muschietti
DMV Distribuzione
Ellepi Film
Dania Film
Distributed byTitanus (Italy)
Release date
  • September 10, 1989 (1989-09-10) (Venice)
  • October 27, 1989 (1989-10-27) (Italy)
Running time
110 minutes


Lieutenant Silvestri suffers a toothache and decides to reach the nearest camp hospital earlier. 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 taking 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 of attacks of insurgents in the same area where all that happened and he recognizes the young man from the constructions site and some of the civilians he observed among the dead. He also meets Elias, wearing his pants, which he seems to have forgotten at the site and Johannes, Elias' father.

He finally receives his permission for furlough and while celebrating with his friend and a superior Major he learns that the white turban of the girl means her being leprous. This and a festering wound on his hand lead him to believe he has leprosy. Elias visits him and he concludes him being Mariams brother and Johannes her father and his belief in enforced by Elias' reluctant answers. He seeks out a doctor with the cover-story of investigating for a book. The doctor explains to him from a book all the signs of lepra, which convinces and horrifies him even more. Upon the doctor insisting on examining his hand he gives the doctor a false name and even shoots at him, going to the ship going to Italy.

As he tries to escape from Ethiopia to his wife in Italy, Silvestri evades and even steals from his former and finally hides at the father of the girl, Johannes. After living 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 also to the burial site.

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



  1. ^ "Tempo di uccidere". MyMovies. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
  2. ^ Liliana Ellena. Film d'Africa. Archivio nazionale cinematografico della Resistenza, 1999.
  3. ^ Fabrizio Natalini. Ennio Flaiano: una vita nel cinema. Artemide, 2005. ISBN 88-7575-017-3.

External linksEdit