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Natural Born Killers

Tarantino wasn’t too happy with Oliver Stone’s treatment of his Natural Born Killers script, which was extensively re-worked by the director and at least two other writers. ‘My script was pure’, complained Tarantino. Perhaps Oliver Stone saw the original as a pure genre piece, and as such something that needed shaping into a big statement about America. It’s essentially another variation on the criminals-on-the-run scenario, except that Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) are rather extreme sociopaths who get their kicks from killing just about anybody who gets in their way. Their outrages are covered by an opportunistic T.V. talk-show host (Robert Downey Jnr.) whose reports turn the pair into folk heroes. Right from the opening sequence, Natural Born Killers is at once extremely violent and very stylised. Stone pushes his experimentation with film form to the limit, and has made the most avant-garde of mainstream Hollywood movies. Technically, it’s an extraordinary achievement, but for many people the barrage of formal devices seem to have heightened a sense of fear about the author’s intentions. Partly due to scaremongering by the media, censors were worried by the film, but Ireland was the only country where it was banned. After a failed attempt by the IFC to screen NBK for a run in 1995, Stone defended his movie:
‘Natural Born Killers is a work of social commentary, a satire on America’s violent society and the media which glorify crimes of violence. It is not a work of pornography, a ‘snuff film’, or even an ‘action movie’. It’s a movie that makes one think about the nature of our society.’

U.S.A., 1994.
Colour.
Dolby stereo.
119 mins.

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