Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Straw Dogs [1971]


Straw Dogs polarized its audience upon its release; four decades hence, it still hasn’t lost that ability – that shows how relevant and topical the movie is to the current times as it was during the Vietnam War era. Considered the finest non-Western from Sam Peckinpah, Straw Dogs is a deeply disturbing meditation on the vicious cycle of violence that is intrinsic to human nature and society. Dustin Hoffman, in one of the most remarkable roles of his distinguished career, plays David Summer, a soft-spoken, mild-mannered and nerdish American mathematician, who has relocated with her wife to a small Cornish village where she was born, in order to escape the commotion back home in the US. The promiscuous nature and overt sexuality of Amy (played brilliantly by Susan George), heightened by her boredom, attract the attention of the young men working for David, and soon enough the film enters harrowing territory that is both powerful and distressing in its stark and relentless portrayal of primal human instincts. David’s inevitable journey from deliberate avoidance of to headlong plunge into masculinity and animalistic violence is thus as nerve-racking as it is liberating, quite akin to David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence. Aided by the eerie score and jittery editing, this visceral Sam Peckinpah classic remains one of the most explosive and provocative films ever made.








Director: Sam Peckinpah
Genre: Drama/Thriller/Psychological Thriller/Crime Thriller
Language: English
Country: UK

12 comments:

Meredith L. Grau said...

Fabulous! Can't go wrong with Peckinpah!!! :)

Yayaver said...

This movie was quite strong for my test on first viewing. I could not believe the transformation of Dustiman Hoffmann from mild manner mathematician to animalistic revenger.Thus story can happen to anyone in this society. People of the town avoid rogue elements silentl till one day avalanche falls on David summer. Sam Peckinpah createda masterpeice..

Doniphon said...

While I do slightly prefer Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia and a few others, it has a hell of a lot going for it. It is a tad bit more messagey than some of Peckinpah's other films, but it really does have something to say, and this is Hoffman's best performance.

John said...

Wow! you beat me on this one. I plan on watching this again within the next fews days or weeks and do my own review. I too think this is Peckinpah's best non-western film.

Shubhajit said...

Meredith:

Yup, I feel the same too. Thanks for stopping by.

Shubhajit said...

Yayaver:

Yeah, the transformation of Dustin Hoffman's character was offbalancing and believable too.

Shubhajit said...

Doniphon:

Well, I agree in that the movie does have message(s) for its viewers, but that never comes in the way of watching the film. The message is subtle and coincidental to the plot. And yes, Hoffman is terrific to say the least, if not his career's best.

Shubhajit said...

John:

Would love to read your detailed take on the movie. Its always a pleasure :)

Sam Juliano said...

"Straw Dogs is a deeply disturbing meditation on the vicious cycle of violence that is intrinsic to human nature and society."

Indeed Shubhajit, and it is one of the finest examples of its kind, and may well be my own favorite Peckinpah film. Basically this is a kind of revenge drama in the sense that the violence inflicted by Hoffmann is more savage even than that initiated against him. Hence, one can think of teh connection to Bergman's THE VIRGIN SPRING a decade earlier. I'll agree with Donophon that this is definitely one of Hoffmann's best performances.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. All it took was a couple of moments to transform Hoffman's character from pliant to brutal, thus making the impact so nerve-racking and real, cos that's all it takes. I agree with all that you said here.

CMrok93 said...

Great film! That rape scene although disturbing, is still something that gets me every time, mostly cause of its utter realism.

Shubhajit said...

Yeah, that might just be one of the most disturbing scenes ever shot.