The Wild Bunch – The Director’s Cut (1969)
Directed by Sam Peckinpah
For breakfast: Biscuits ‘n Gravy
Sam Peckinpah completely demystifies and deconstructs the western in this gritty, beautiful film. I’m a huge fan of westerns and the “myths” that accompany them, but I also have a great appreciation for filmmakers who dare to turn a genre on its head (Kubrick anyone?). I came up with the term ‘poetic brutality’ after watching Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and it more than applies here. From the opening sequence, shootout after shootout plays out more like a graceful dance rather than chaotic destruction. And yet every scene still manages to maintain a level of tension that grips and pulls the audience in. No one, that’s right…NO ONE can put together a shootout like Peckinpah. Up to this point westerns were all about the sharp-shootin’, charismatic hero, but here we get no heroes. We have aging men (played perfectly by one of the best ensembles I’ve seen) in a dying land who live by a code that is dying along with it. Everyone in the film is neither good nor bad, but appropriately colored a shade of gray. They find redemption in the end by adhering to the only set of values they can have in a world that has forgotten them. God I love this movie.