Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia [1974]

The commercial failure of a film generally restricts a filmmaker’s freedom, but, ironically, it was the opposite for Peckinpah. Even though Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid failed at the box-office, he managed to release his next feature Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia just the way he intended; it’s another matter though that this too sunk monetarily. This violent and tragic thriller begins with a wealthy Mexican gang-lord announcing a reward of a million dollars on the head of the titular person – who, as it turns out, has already died – for having had the temerity to make his daughter pregnant. Two American gangsters enlist the aid of Bennie (Warren Oates), a sleazy bar-singer, to collect the prized head. Bennie gets hold of her crooner girlfriend (Isela Vega), as she knows where he’s buried. However, given the rewards at stake, there are other bounty-hunters too on the prowl, and hence things start going awry at every given opportunity. Though initially motivated by the riches that would offer him the chance to start his life afresh, when his fiancée dies, an obsessive quest for vengeance gets added to his agenda – and he exacts that in the bloodiest manner possible. Expectedly, by the time this dark and nerve-racking film comes to an end, hardly anyone worth mentioning is alive, leave alone kicking, to enjoy the money. The director infused black comedy, melancholia, and a harsh and fatalistic portrayal of frontier life along with the associated loneliness and hopelessness, to create a grimy, pessimistic and nihilistic world that was distinctively Peckinpah-ian. Oates was memorable in his portrayal of a man whose fate gets sealed the moment he accepts the self-destructive offer.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Genre: Thriller/Black Comedy/Modern Western
Language: English/Spanish
Country: US

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