Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wild Bunch

This is my first time watching the Wild Bunch and I thought it was an excellent movie. It’s the type of movie that keeps you interested from start to finish because of the strong acting and storyline along with great action and suspense. The movie showed a lot of violence that must have been quite graphic for its time in the 60’s as the director tried to give a realistic portrayal of how they used to live in that era, which was set in the early 1900’s. From the beginning sequence when they robbed the bank to the general cutting Angels throat which subsequently leads into the graphic gun battle of the soldiers massacre and their own death at the end of the movie, there was no shortage of violence. I found an interesting element in the movie when they decide to deal with the general to steal American weapons from the train. It kind of brought to the forefront the issue of arms dealing and how it can affect a regions stability. The idea that money can impair Pike’s conscience to decide to equip an army after he has seen first hand the abuse Mapache has done to his own people such as to the villagers in Angel’s town. But also as he provides weapons to the general he does agree to Angel’s terms to allow him to take some weapons for the villagers for his share of his money as Pike sees the town’s right to defend themselves. And as the terms of the sale are spearheaded by the German advisors it shows that all parties are interested in attaining advanced weaponry to later get the upper hand in their agendas.

I read that the film used some cinematography that was advanced for its time with the use of multi-angle editing with wide angle camera lens which was central for the live action and outdoor shots, such as the scene where just after Pike threatens to blow up the weapons the camera later pans above the canyon to capture the generals soldiers ride off on both sides to retreat back to the camp. This scene captures the grand landscape in the background and the canyon below as you see the soldiers ride quickly. And also the shot of the “long walk” as they make their way back to Mapache’s to get Angel. Another element in the movie was the kind of feeling that the end of an era was upon Pike and the gang and the sense that they new it as he was looking for his last big job to call it quits. He uses a great line “We've got to start thinking beyond our guns. Those days are closing fast” which sums up what they are feeling and coming to the realization that times are a changin. You kind of sense it when Pike has kind of lost his touch as he tries to mount the horse he looses his footing, but also when they check out Mapache’s automobile as they inspect it with such fascination and also the new form of weaponry they find intriguing when they first see the machine gun. Along with the “old ways” was that loyalty that Pike finds so important. The way Pike decides to agree and help the general to steal the arms in order to avoid a confrontation for Angel with the general, or when the four decide to go back to save Angel from being killed, when Pike mentions Deke’s loyalty to the railroad as he pursued him and when Pike has the dream when he realizes he had dishonored his fellow gang member Deke after he leaves him behind during the raid. They all had a sort of ‘code of honor’ among them which was fading with the times.

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