Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (Sam Peckinpah, 1973)

Seen at Doc Films yesterday: my favorite post-classical Peckinpah (I think), though it's even less coherent projected than on DVD.

If it is in fact a great movie (I'm prone to think it is), then it represents a victory of the cohesion of moods and ideas over any sort of cohesion of narrative, characterization or dialogue (that goddamn sound mix is even worse in the theater; leaving the screening, a young woman aptly jokes: "Well, at least I could understand almost half the dialogue.").

Ben Sachs, seeing the movie for the first time, points out (accurately) that the mood remains more or less the same (visually sunny but thematically overcast), and is only changed by which Bob Dylan song is playing.

Projected, the stasis of the whole thing is even more noticeable. The movie starts and ends in the same place, and Pat and Billy never really do anything. Personal theory (and I think this is everyone's "personal theory" about the movie): Sheriff Garrett knows where Billy the Kid is all along, and the movie is just him killing time (and minor characters) until he finally has to go and shoot his bandit friend.


Jaime said...

My absolute favorite Peckinpah. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Peter Lenihan said...

What do you mean by post-classical here? Ride The High Country strikes me as his only "classical" film in the most rigid sense.

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky said...


I'd say that Major Dundee (personal favorite) is "transitional" instead of "post-classical."