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The Wild Bunch (1969)

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Mr. Arkadin
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The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby Mr. Arkadin » August 13th, 2010, 4:57 pm

Image

Tonight, TCM will premiere one of the greatest and most reviled westerns ever made. Love it or hate it, for those who wish to discuss this landmark film--this is your thread.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8mu_kHPniI&feature=related[/youtube]

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JackFavell
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Re: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby JackFavell » August 13th, 2010, 5:56 pm

I can't WAIT to see it again, for the second time. Now that I have discussed it with you folks, I think my appreciation will be more focused.

And I ain't just saying that because Ben is in it, though that never hurts. :D

What snacks to make? fried scorpion and chocolate covered ants?

Uh, wait. Maybe no snacks is better.....

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Re: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby Lzcutter » August 14th, 2010, 12:48 am

this is your thread.


Ah Ark,

I hope you will be joining in on the conversation. This is one of my favorite films and I look forward to talking with you and everyone else about it.
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby Mr. Arkadin » August 15th, 2010, 11:21 am

Time has been short lately and I’ve avoided this thread because I didn’t feel I had the time, or frame of mind to write about this film (babies kind of distract you in that way). Since I have a cup of coffee and everyone appears to be sleeping at the moment, I’ll try to sketch out some basic thoughts:

Peckinpah is a director that causes division. We see this in his personal life, the public life of his films with viewers, and even the themes within his films. When Charles Heston was asked about working with such a person, he replied: “Sam is a man that demands allegiance and commitment” and later commented: “Sam is the only person I’ve physically threatened on a set.”

What is it about the man and his work that creates such controversy? I would suggest that Peckinpah’s style (and personal life) was one of confrontation, where he presented us with the contrasts of life to facilitate choice. We are never allowed to “sit back and be abstract”, but are brought into a world of morality where actions have consequences, and Sam never lets his characters (or us) off the hook.

The Wild Bunch, often touted as Peckinpah’s masterpiece, is not a film about violence, the Vietnam war, or men in changing times. Although these themes exist in the film to some degree, they are not its focus. Instead, throughout this work we see the contrasting of different ideological views: The Bunch robbing the bank while the Temperance Union marches outside (We’ll join em.), Angel’s quiet village and the rowdy border town, Mapache’s men and the Bunch (We ain’t like him---We don’t hang nobody!), Pike and Thorton--two best friends playing a game of cat and mouse, and finally, Pike’s failure to live up to the standards and code he valiantly preaches to others.

Peckinpah’s deconstruction of western myth enables us to see his players not as heroic figures, like many classic westerns, but simple men with the same burdens we share. In his choice of non-glamorous characters (hard, grizzled men with a protruding belly or two), and realization of the savageness of death (is death ever neat and tidy?), Peckinpah then gives us an alternate perspective of the gift of life in all its beauty, which is shown in Angel’s village. Above all, his leading man Pike is allowed to knowingly make wrong choices and live with them on his conscience until he can no longer bear their weight, creating a humanistic outlook of Shakespearean proportions.

While many of his films have tragic endings, perhaps the tragedy of Peckinpah is he is often misunderstood. He was not a gore hound (as Junior Bonner (1972) and The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970) prove), but a filmmaker who believed in honor, redemption, the value of life, and the dignity of mankind. These are traits his characters must often go to extremes to discover within themselves, but they (and we) are grateful to find them.

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Re: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby JackFavell » August 15th, 2010, 10:33 pm

That was really wonderful.

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Re: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby Mr. Arkadin » August 15th, 2010, 10:57 pm

JackFavell wrote:I can't WAIT to see it again, for the second time. Now that I have discussed it with you folks, I think my appreciation will be more focused.

And I ain't just saying that because Ben is in it, though that never hurts. :D

What snacks to make? fried scorpion and chocolate covered ants?

Uh, wait. Maybe no snacks is better.....


I hope you enjoyed it more the second time. :wink:

As for the scorpions and ants, they are a foreshadowing of the final battle where the killing prowess of the Bunch (Scorpion) is overwhelmed by Mapache's flunkie soldiers (ants). It is the children who stir the pile, just as Pike's mortal wound will come from the hands of a young boy with a rifle.

While key line of the film is a yearning for lost innocence and a chance to begin again (We all dream of being a child again, even the worst of us. Perhaps the worst most of all.), these children are growing up, and sadly adapting to their world.

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Re: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby JackFavell » August 15th, 2010, 11:17 pm

I conked out right before it started, so I missed the first 30 or 40 minutes. I can't pre-set my dvdr anymore, so I have to be awake to start it up. Grrrr. I recorded the rest of the movie, but this will now force me to buy the dvd, which is probably a good thing. I have seen at least one of the extra documentaries, and I know they are worth it.

I was thrilled by the way TWB looked this time around, it was so beautiful. Clean and clear. I had time to look at the film, rather than just letting it wash over me, only getting the plot points. I loved the crossfades between Deke and Pike during their mutual flashback. Ryan was terribly moving again to me, warm and compassionate, the real heart of the film, the voice of Peckinpah in some ways. Holden yes, but Ryan.....he is so tender here - I don't mean tender as in sweet. I mean tender as in sore, as if he had been poked and prodded in the same spot for weeks.... at the breaking point, and still able to stand tall, as a man should.

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Re: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby pvitari » August 16th, 2010, 10:11 am

I love The Wild Bunch (if you can love a movie about such vile people). I've had the good fortune to see this twice on the big screen.

The scorpions and ants are not just a precursor to the violence to come but Peckinpah's telling us he believes that the violence is inbred in us. The children are supposed to be the innocents, but here they are delighting in the torment and destruction of tiny creatures who are helpless to escape the destructive will which is manifest in us at our earliest age.

Wasn't Robert Ryan ill during the shooting of the film? I read he was and I think his fragile physical state added to his character's vulnerability.

William Holden -- just no words for his perfection. :)

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Re: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby MikeBSG » August 16th, 2010, 2:00 pm

I like "The Wild Bunch" a lot.

there are so many good performances in here, from William Holden and Robert Ryan in the main roles down to L. Q. Jones and Strother Martin as minor gargoyles. Gee, and wouldn't the film be poorer without Bo Hopkins, and he's gone after about ten minutes.

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Re: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby JackFavell » August 16th, 2010, 3:23 pm

Aaaaaaaghhh! Bo Hopkins...... aghhhhhhhhh!

He LICKED her.

I can't get over it. :D

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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby Mr. Arkadin » August 16th, 2010, 5:35 pm

JackFavell wrote:Aaaaaaaghhh! Bo Hopkins...... aghhhhhhhhh!

He LICKED her.

I can't get over it. :D


Which has ties to this scene:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naXnqW9oXZk&feature=related[/youtube]

Once again, note the children throwing stones on the heads of passers by (later we will see a baby suckling its mother who is wearing a bandolier between her breasts).

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Re: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby kingrat » August 16th, 2010, 5:50 pm

THE WILD BUNCH is one of the most important and influential films in the history of cinema. Unfortunately. More than any previous film, THE WILD BUNCH persuaded--seduced?--intellectuals into accepting a split between the aesthetic presentation of violence and the moral dimensions of violence. Ark, Lynn, and others will correctly point out that Peckinpah's film does have its own code of morality, although in terms of the historical influence of the film and even the original impact of the film, this is almost irrelevant.

The original impact of the film went something like this: 1) This is a much more violent film than we are used to seeing. 2) Violence can be an interesting aesthetic spectacle, especially in the hands of a talented director (intellectual response). 3) Wow, what jolts of adrenaline (just about any spectator). Contemporary viewers did draw parallels between the peaceful Mexican village and the (allegedly) peaceful Vietnamese villages before the American military intervention. The analogy isn't hammered home as in, say, LITTLE BIG MAN, but it's there, and the coding told us that if we were opposed to the war, we should like this film.

The original impact of the film on many directors was that they wanted to do something like this, too.

Is it possible to show sadism on screen, such as the dragging of Jaime around the ring, without either encouraging sadism in the spectator or desensitizing the spectator to violence? I would say 1) Almost certainly not and 2) If it is possible, Peckinpah doesn't manage to do so.

None of this directly affects a discussion of the characters and acting in the film. I think it's also fair to say that when THE WILD BUNCH came out, almost no one talked about any of the actors. Instead, people talked about the violence and Sam Peckinpah.

klondike

Re: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby klondike » August 16th, 2010, 6:31 pm

kingrat wrote:Contemporary viewers did draw parallels between the peaceful Mexican village and the (allegedly) peaceful Vietnamese villages before the American military intervention. The analogy isn't hammered home as in, say, LITTLE BIG MAN, but it's there, and the coding told us that if we were opposed to the war, we should like this film.


Hunh.
I've watched both films several times apiece (then, and since), and never picked up on a Viet Nam angle in either.
Guess my perspectives were mis-skewed . . probably concentrating too much on love, death & the nature of truth.

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JackFavell
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Re: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby JackFavell » August 16th, 2010, 6:39 pm

Little Big Man was about Vietnam?

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Re: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Postby JackFavell » August 16th, 2010, 6:40 pm

Oops. Sorry Klonny, didn't see your previous post saying the exact same thing. :oops: :oops:


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