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Archive for July 26th, 2009

The Wild Bunch, 1969, directed by Sam Peckinpah

Story: After being set up in a bank heist, the dwindling and aging Wild Bunch (a band of outlaws operating in the American frontier of the early 20th century) crosses into Mexico. Pursued by bounty hunters led by one of their former members, the Bunch agree to steal a cache of weapons for a corrupt Mexican warlord – but eventually, they must decide what’s worth more: his gold or their vaguely maintained code of honor.

The Wild Bunch is notorious as a subversive take on the Western genre, with the opening lines of Pike (William Holden) – “If they move, kill ’em!” – supposedly a declaration of independence from the old-fashioned sanctities of the form. And the ensuing massacre would seem to confirm that we’re a long way from the moralistic shades of High Noon (1952) and Shane (1953), what with old ladies of the Temperance Union being killed in the crossfire by careless deputies, cowering bank tellers being taken hostage and used as live bait by the titular antiheroes, and the innocent babes of the town wandering through a town square littered with the corpses of their elders as they imitate the outlaws’ gunfire. Meanwhile, other children light a bonfire over battling scorpions and red ants, piling violence upon violence in a microcosm of the film’s pathology: lethal but somehow poignant old cretins – the bunch – pitted against the ruthless, small-minded hordes – the bounty hunters and Mexican soldiers and railroad men who are just as violent as the outlaws, but somehow more petty. (more…)

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scenes from 1

by Allan Fish

(Sweden 1973 299m) DVD1 (only shorter 168m version on DVD2)

Aka. Scener ur ett Aktenskap

Love in an earthly and imperfect way

p  Ingmar Bergman  d/w  Ingmar Bergman  ph  Sven Nykvist  ed  Siv Lundgren

Liv Ullmann (Marianne), Erland Josephson (Johan), Bibi Andersson, Jan Malmsjö, Anita Wall, Gunnel Lindblom,

When Ingmar Bergman made Saraband, his swansong to the cinema in his 85th year, it highlighted something I’d always suspected.  There was something about his TV drama Scenes from Marriage that made me think it was the one in which he put most of himself.  It was the first of his major TV works, and here he was, thirty years later, revisiting the same characters of Johan and Marianne, now in old age, and filming on his beloved Faro. 

            Scenes told the story of the disintegration of a bourgeois marriage after ten years of wedded bliss.  Johan goes off with another woman leaving Marianne distraught, then Bergman catches up with them again several times, intermittently, to see how their lives have progressed.  In the shorter film version the structure and the probing analysis fell apart, leaving characters it was hard to like.  In the full version we still may not entirely like them, especially the selfish Johan, and yet we know them, we feel them, and bring our own lives to the mix.  Scenes shows, unlike any other film in his canon, the doubts, fears and insecurities of relationships, the hurt, despair and anguish, coupled with the odd moment of joy.  Sex plays its part, and yet Bergman also looks at the desire just to be held; “I wish we could spend all week in bed, just cuddling” Marianne says at one point. (more…)

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