Ennio Flaiano (1910 – 1972) was a famous Italian screenwriter, playwright, novelist, journalist, and drama critic. He was best known for his work with Federico Fellini, and co-wrote ten screenplays with the Italian director, including La Strada (1954), La Dolce Vita (1960), and Otto e Mezzo (1963).
In 1947, he won the inaugural Strega Prize for his novel, Tempo di uccidere (Time to Kill), which was translated into English by Stuart Hood and published as Miriam in the UK (1949), and The Short Cut in the USA (1950).
Set during Mussolini's war in Ethiopia, the novel tells the story of an Italian officer who, while taking a short cut through the Eritrean countryside, has a brief encounter with a young Eritrean girl who, following a tragic accident in which she is seriously hurt, he then kills. He is tormented by the memory of his act and then the fear that the girl may have infected him with leprosy.
This is an early Italian literary work dealing with the misdeeds of Italian colonialism in Eastern Africa; the Italian language version of the novel is still in print. A movie adaptation with the same title, directed by Giuliano Montaldo and starring Nicolas Cage, was released in 1989.
Time to Kill (Tempo di Uccidere) - 1989
Time to Kill
The English version of the film is very difficult to find. The version here is actually the Italian widescreen video with the English audio substituted. The film contains some nudity and violence and was given a 15 Certificate when it was released in the UK (and the scene with the chameleon was, apparently, cut out of the UK video release). You may have to turn off any child locks to watch the movie on YouTube.
Nicolas Cage as Lt. Enrico Silvestri
Ricky Tognazzi as Mario
Giancarlo Giannini as Major (Cesare)
Patrice Flora Praxo as Mariam
Gianluca Favilla as Army Driver
Georges Claisse as Dr. Tiberi
Robert Liensol as Joannes
The movie was made during the Ethiopian Revolution and was filmed in Zimbabwe, rather than Eritrea or Ethiopia.
If you prefer, you can watch the Italian version, where Nicolas Cage's voice has been dubbed over (you can turn on English subtitles).