Sunday, 23 October 2011

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid [1973]


Sam Peckinpah’s career was fraught with a plethora of troubles, more so when it came to his cinema – Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid was no exception. In fact, so hostile was the situation, he had even strived to have his name removed from the movie’s credits. Now that the “Director’s Cut” has surfaced, film aficionados can once again appreciate the man’s vision. A bleak yet lyrical meditation on the mysticism and lawlessness of the West, the movie is about the friendship between former comrades Pat Garrett (James Coburn) and Billy the Kid (Kris Kristofferson) going south when the former, now a Sheriff, goes after the head of the latter, an enigmatic outlaw. Unlike conventional Westerns, this movie, set at the turn of the 20th century, was not so much as about spectacular shootouts, as it was about a reflection of the slow but inevitable demise of this legendary American landscape. The superbly paced movie boasts of great cinematography, marvelously capturing the harsh psychical as well as psychological terrains. Further, though Bob Dylan might not have been particularly great in front of the camera, his wonderfully scored and exceptionally written songs (the fabulous title song and the iconic “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”) did a terrific job in supplementing the mood and fatalism of the plot. Yes, the movie is uneven at places and the proceedings a tad uneventful at times, but the overall viewing experience of men residing at the very edge of the human frontier was satisfying to say the least.








Director: Sam Peckinpah
Genre: Western/Psychological Western/Revisionist Western/Buddy Film
Language: English
Country: US

3 comments:

Sam Juliano said...

"Unlike conventional Westerns, this movie, set at the turn of the 20th century, was not so much as about spectacular shootouts, as it was about a reflection of the slow but inevitable demise of this legendary American landscape."

Excellent point as is the subsequent observation of Dylan's music. I will confess I've always found this uneven myself, but I can't deny there are some brilliant components. This is one I need to see again, as it's fans have always sung its praises with vigour.

Great work Shubhajit!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot Sam. Yes,despite some unevenness here & there, on the whole I felt it to be a excellent, moody Western. And Dylan, if I start speaking anymore about him, I'll start speaking in hyperboles :)

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