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The Wild Bunch / Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid 22 October 14

Section: article

Categories: Film / dvd-mine

Yes, gratuitous violence and sexism. So, there you are. That’s it.

A few points come to mind:

  • These two films are like a membrane between life and death. You feel, I feel, the dirt, heat, sweat, and salt of life and death.
  • The death is on this side of the membrane. Death here is not, for me, exclusively limited to the killings in the film. They are more formal elements, choreographed, gestures: particularly in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid the many shootings are painterly, he literally and clearly uses simple red paint for the little explosions and spatters of blood. The sunlight and grime which permeate both films are drenched in death.
  • The sexist portrayal of women is also strangely formal in the sense that Peckinpah is saying, okay, here is a woman and I will portray her in this form, in this manner, namely how I and, to be honest, much of society sees women. But there is a kind of indifference towards the women which is superficial, simply showing a lack of interest and not cruelty.
    • The women in these two films are certainly portrayed in the oppressive relations, roles, and constraints that women are subjected to in our society. I’m talking here about underlying power relations, not individual circumstances.
    • Yet the women in these two films are more alive and present than the men, though of course powerless and subjugated to them at the same time. The women are more real: in fact they are mostly probably not actresses but just extras, in other words real people, which they mainly come across as.
    • But the men are also subjugated to something, in the grips of some momentum they can’t free themselves from. They talk about going to Mexico for freedom, but that will never happen, it isn’t possible, they can’t liberate themselves from what they are caught up in, which is mainly getting money and shooting anyone who is remotely in their way. And particularly as in The Wild Bunch they prefer to follow their principles to certain death rather than abscond to Mexico with their gold.
    • It is as if women are on the other, “life” side of the membrane, and men are on this death side of the membrane.
  • These films make me think about consciousness, or degrees of consciousness or its lack. This is a tricky theme. We are not as conscious as we would like to think we are. The difference between our consciousness and that of other animals is not as black and white as we would like to think. Our will is not as free as we would like to think it is.
    • There is a relativity of principles and morals driving these two films, a relativity depending on the circumstances as they change and unfold: Borgnine’s character says something along the lines of it not being only about making a promise, but who you make it to.

  • Title: The Wild Bunch / Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
  • Directed by: Sam Peckinpah
  • Writing credits: Walon Green, Sam Peckinpah, Roy N. Sickner / Rudy Wurlitzer
  • Starring: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Warren Oates, Edmond O'brien, Jaime Sanchez, Strother Martin, and more / James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, Richard Jaeckel, Katy Jurado, Chill Wills, Barry Sullivan, Jason Robards, Bob Dylan, Luke Askew, Rita
  • Cinematography: Lucien Ballard / John Coquillon
  • Year: 1969 / 1973
  • Further details: These DVDs were a gift from N.