Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch tears at
the screen with blood and violence. The violence in The Wild Bunch is not only historical but also revolutionary. While
the film is one of the most controversial movies of its time, today, its
controversy remains a frequently revisited and debated subject among scholars,
critics, and movie patrons (Gronstad 167). When The Wild Bunch was first release in 1969, critics and general
audiences were incredibly divided (Ferrera). Many critics embraced Peckinpah’s
vision and use of violence and blood. Others admonished Peckinpah for his
brutality and vivid portrays of on-screen violence. Some may feel as though the
violence of The Wild Bunch is
antiquated when compared to the portrayals of on-screen violence seen today.
However, according to Ferrera, the way Peckinpah uses violence changed how filmmakers
portray violence, in particular gun violence, on screen. Unlike previous
western films, Peckinpah showed audiences that death and violence are bloody
and miserable. Even today, the graphic violence in The Wild Bunch is a
subject of controversy and debate. Despite the controversy of the past and
present that obsesses on Peckinpah’s use of violence, blood and guns, The Wild Bunch remains of the most
celebrated and influential American Westerns of all time.
the most intriguing aspect of The Wild
Bunch’s reception is the debate among popular critics around the time of
the film’s release. Film audiences had not seen explicit portrayals of violence
before Peckinpah’s masterpiece (Ferrera). Bullet holes rip through clothing and
human bodies, and blood gushes as the bullets rip through a character’s body.
Peckinpah showed the killing of innocent bystanders. The perpetrators of
violence use other humans as shields from cascades of bullets. Children giggle
as hordes of ants devour a scorpion alive, and later, the children set fire to both
the scorpions and ants. The aftermath of gun battle in The Wild Bunch is gruesome and scary. The brightest color in the
film is blood. For its time, the violence of The Wild Bunch was unmatched, and many critics and audience members
were unsettled and outraged (Canby). Vincent Canby of The New York Times suggests that other critics of the time seemed
to have felt as though the film would cause viewers to want to leave the theater
and automatically start murdering people. Canby affirms that an impulse to
inflict violence on people was not present after watching The Wild Bunch, and the film, “Is very beautiful and the first
truly interesting, American-made Western in years.”
many critics felt as though the film was too violent and not suitable for
humanity, Charles Champlin and Roger Ebert celebrated the film. Champlin often
squinted during the film in a futile attempt to escape the violence. He refers
to The Wild Bunch as, “Not so much a
movie as a blood bath,” but affirms that the film is, “Brilliantly made and
thought provoking.” Champlin notes the original test audiences of The Wild Bunch recoiled in horror and
stormed out of the theaters in droves. Apparently, members of test screenings
picketed the theaters the next day, and Warner Brothers made Peckinpah cut 35
minutes of violence before officially releasing the film (Champlin). However,
Champlin defended the film’s portrayal of violence, and notes that death in The Wild Bunch is depraved and gut
wrenching, just as it is in real life. Roger Ebert also celebrated and defended
the film’s use of violence with veracity and eloquence. Ebert affirms that the
larger cultural issue at hand is that we depict cowboys, Indians, and the Old
West as a fun game for children to play. While Peckinpah did not make a cowboys
and Indians film, The Wild Bunch attacks
and destroys the notion of the traditional Western. Ebert notes that Peckinpah
utilized excessive violence, but this violence merely comes as a reaction and a
response to violence enacted throughout the world on a daily basis. This
response to violence continues to reverberate through modern-day culture and
violence. After seeing The Wild Bunch a
second time,Ebert described some of
Peckinpah’s use of violence as, “Blood flowing in an unending stream” and
“Geysers of blood everywhere.” While Peckinpah’s use of violence is graphic and
unlike any other film of its time, interestingly, Ebert’s statements were
hyperbole. Nonetheless, Ebert argues that regardless of how graphic and
realistic Peckinpah’s on-screen violence may have been, the film exists in a
one-dimensional realm, realism is not synonymous with reality, and it is
“Impossible to forget this is a movie.”
addition to the variety of responses and debate among film critics and audience
members at the time of The Wild Bunch’s release,
controversy and commentary continues in modern times. Books, scholarly
articles, and blogs continue to chronical and add to the discussion of
Peckinpah’s portrayal of on-screen violence in The Wild Bunch.In Cowboy Metaphysics, Peter A. French does
not share the same spirit of support for Peckinpah’s portrayals of violence as Roger
Ebert. French categorizes Peckinpah’s use of violence as simply an, “Extreme
consciousness of death” (84). According to French, the main characters are
courageous and heroic, but they are slightly demonic and lack true altruism in
their supposedly heroic actions (126). The concept of a person committing to
their word as the single attribute necessary to achieve the highest level of
moral integrity in The Wild Bunch is
particularly unsettling to French. French argues that this brand of integrity
utilized in The Wild Bunch causes one
to overlook the appalling traits and violence behavior of the film’s characters
(128). In other words, if a character is seen as possessing integrity, their
awful behavior is justified, and to a certain degree integrity becomes a device
that glorifies violent acts regardless of whether the violence is justifiable
critical researcher Asbjorn Gronstad highlights and supports many critically
justifiable functions of Peckinpah’s use of violence. Gronstad compares
Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch to Thoreau’s Walden, not in plot but in
meaning and allegory (169). According to Gronstad, morality is not the
overarching theme of the film and its violence. Instead, the film is an
allegory for the battle between nature and technological progress (Gronstad 170).
Observing and drawing conclusions solely from the lens of morality not only
negates Peckinpah’s sense of morality, but also ignores a deeper and important
thematic dynamic at play in The Wild Bunch. Gronstad frames Peckinpah’s
portrayals of violence as both an admonishment of violence and violence toward,
“Socio-cultural homogenization” (169). Additionally, Gronstad claims that by
re-representing the past, specifically the Old West, in a more appropriate and
accurate light, viewers are able to draw a correlation to the present and
possible futures of humanity (171). In order to understand the present, and
violence situated in the present, we must work to stop glorifying the past.
Violence is not a virtue to Peckinpah. Instead, Peckinpah depicts violence as a
product of a bleak world in which humanity is always at odds with machine, and
in this world, there is no hope for the past, present, or future (Gronstad
controversy and debate about Peckinpah’s use of violence continues over 40
years after the film’s release, The Wild Bunch remains a, “Seminal work
of violence and artistry that forever changed the landscape of motion pictures”
(Ferrara). According to Ferrara, Peckinpah was the first to use violence as a
slowed-down, graphically choreographed visual motif. The sound of flies buzzing
over dead bodies, squibs aggressively flinging blood across the screen,
different angles of the same action, and the double and triple printing of film
were all innovative techniques Peckinpah utilized to depict on-screen violence
(Ferrara). While these techniques are a victory of filmmaking that many
filmmakers utilize today, they are also the source of much of The Wild
Bunch’s controversy. Prior to The Wild Bunch’s release, the
Production Code had not yet been eradicated (Ferrara). According to Ferrara,
the Production Code was eventually eradicated and replaced by the MPAA, yet the
MPAA strongly objected to the violence and required Peckinpah to remove a scene
that graphically displays the cutting of a character’s throat. Upon test screening the film, after making the
necessary cuts, audience members’ reactions were often extremely negative, and
Ferrara quotes one early audience member saying, “Don’t release this film. The
whole thing is sick.” Despite the controversy and the MPAA’s objections to the
depictions of violence in The Wild Bunch, the film received several
prestigious awards. In 1999, The Wild Bunch was added to the National
Film Registry (Ferrara).
own reaction to The Wild Bunch’s release is perhaps one of the most
compelling commentaries on the film’s use of violence. Even though there were
several audience members that recoiled in horror and condemned the violence in
the film, Peckinpah was more appalled by stories of audience members that
cheered and attained enjoyment from the film’s violence (Ferrara). Nonetheless,
Peckinpah ultimately defended his depictions of violence when condemned by
critics, and Peckinpah condemned the idea that he was using on-screen violence
as something that is fun and enjoyable (Ferrara). While Peckinpah romanticized
the beautiful Mexican landscape in which the film is set, the depictions of
violence are brutal, dirty, and devastating. Peckinpah was nicknamed “Bloody
Sam” and the final shoot out of The Wild Bunch the “Blood ballet,” yet Peckinpah
used violence in the film to speak out against the Vietnam War and violence in
general (Ferrara). As Peckinpah himself said, “I wasn't trying to make an epic.
I was trying to tell a simple story about bad men in changing times. I was
trying to make a few comments on violence, and the people who live by violence.”
Peckinpah expressed disappointed that audience members were thrilled and
enjoyed the violence, even Roger Ebert admits enjoying Peckinpah’s use of
violence. While audiences were divided on whether certain elements of The
Wild Bunch are enjoyable or detestable, the film depicts violence, death,
and the gun as gruesome and unenjoyable elements of the world. This depiction
was Peckinpah’s goal, and the film does not glorify violence but rather
condemns violence in the world. If nothing else, Peckinpah managed to produce a
violent film that is still a subject of controversy today. Many critiques of The
Wild Bunch, such as French’s Cowboy Metaphysics, paint a grim
picture of how Peckinpah depicted violence in The Wild Bunch. However,
many popular critics and scholars defend Peckinpah’s use and aesthetic of
violence. Ultimately, it seems as though the individuals commenting on the
violence in The Wild Bunch are more obsessed with violence than the film
itself or Peckinpah, because despite the insurmountable amount of commentary on
the violence in The Wild Bunch, I could not find a source that mentions the
film ending in laughter and song.
Canby, Vincent. “Violence and
Beauty Mesh in Wild Bunch” 26 June
1969. New York Times... Web. Mar.
Champlin, Charles. “Violence Runs
Rampant in The Wild Bunch.” Los Angeles Times 15 June,
1969... Web. 1 Mar. 2015.
Ebert, Roger. “The Wild Bunch.” Chicago Sun-Times 3 Aug. 1969. Rogerebert.com, n.d.
Web. 1 Mar 2015.
Ferrara, Greg. The Wild Bunch: Articles.Turner
Classic Movies, Turner Sports and
Digital Network, n.d. Web. 1 Mar 2015.
French, Peter A. Cowboy Metaphysics. Lanham, MD: Rowman
& Littlefield, 1997. Print.
Gronstad, Asbjorn. “Peckinpah’s Walden: The Violent Indictment of
‘Civilization’ in The Wild
Bunch.”Critical Studies 15.1 (2001): 167-186. ASU Library One Search. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.
Peckinpah, Sam, dir. The Wild Bunch. Perf. William Holden,
Ernest Borgnine, and Robert Ryan.
Yeah! You do your thing Tyler Perry. Don't let these racist douche bags get to you whatsoever. I get that people are quite sensitive to throwing that word "racist" around these days, but I do not care.
I imagine most people that do not like Tyler Perry movies are racists. I might be wrong, but as stated, I do not care. People are more often racist than they think they are, and because they often refuse to admit their racism, they remain racists doing and saying racist shit.
I love Tyler Perry movies.
I often feel as though his films are more for the ladies or Christians than black folk, but therein lies another charm of Tyler Perry: His movies are overtly super Christian, but I do not mind. Under any other circumstances, I would not continue a movie, let alone watch almost all of the guy's movies.
In fact, I think I have seen all of Tyler Perry's movies. I have not seen the animated one nor all of his stage productions on DVD. However, yes, I have seen all of his feature films, except For Colored Girls. I bought the BluRay several years ago for my wife. She was going to wait to watch it with a friend. But they never got around to watching it, so I never got around to watching it. Funny, the only feature film of Tyler Perry's that I have not seen my household owns.
Boo! A Madea Halloween is funny as hell. The comedy is a bit slow to start, but during the second act the film becomes laugh-out-loud funny. Meanwhile, it would not be a Tyler Perry movie if somewhere in the film there was not some level of intense drama. This of course happens at the end of the second act, and as usual, I appreciate the intense somewhat soap-opera drama.Tyler Perry is an outright contradiction to my general tastes.
Boo! A Madea Halloween is simply a fun Halloween ride with one of America's best characters. Madea is not simply a character for black people; she is an American treasure. I read her book years ago, and it's pretty damn funny. To this day, I always clean my bedroom last and make sure any guest areas are immaculate. That's right, Madea is not only an American treasure but also a life coach.
For the record, the animated Madea movie Madea's Tough Love is not "a Tyler Perry film." Tyler voices Madea in the movie, but others wrote and directed it. Also, Boo! A Madea Halloween has a 21% critics aggregate on Rotten Tomatoes. Fuck the critics! They are no fun.
This piece contains spoilers. They are not necessarily blatant spoilers. However, because this “review” is not really a review but rather a piece of pro-feminist propaganda, the brief analysis “spoils” the plot and mystery of the film. If you have not seen Girl on the Train, we cannot recommend reading this analysis.
Despite mostly poor reviews, I thoroughly enjoyed Girl on the Train. The acting is phenomenal, and the story is refreshingly unexpected. Maybe “refreshingly” is not a very useful adverb. Instead, let’s say the film is intense and unexpected.
I have heard that the film adaptation is not nearly as good as the book, but people always say that don’t they?
I always say that I am a sucker for plot twists of a well-made film. My friends walk out of a film claiming that they knew that was going to happen, seemingly as soon as the FADE IN. However, I often remain ignorant and naïve until the big reveal. Girl on the Train is no exception to my naïve ignorance of plot twists. This is not to say that I cannot write a plot twist, but rather when engaged as an audience member, I am a pushover.
Toward the end of the second act, I thought that I had the movie figured out and knew exactly how the film would conclude. Boy was this ignorant pushover classically wrong. Once again, I fell for all of the misdirection that appeared as though it was clues and breadcrumbs. It really is a bit of subtle cinematic magic for a gullible audience member like me.
Even the title of the film is deceptive. The film is not about a girl. The film is about women and the varying degrees of illusion and torment they face within a sociopathic patriarchal society. At the end of the film, the main character Rachel states that she is not the girl she used to be.
However, the reality of the matter is that she was never the “girl she used to be,” simply embodying a role constructed by a domineering womanizing psycho.