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THE WILD BUNCH

Director: SAM PECKINPAH

U.S.A. • 1969 • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 35MM • 145 MIN


The Wild Bunch are an outlaw gang committed to self-assertion through action and aggression. We follow them from a bungled bank robbery which erupts into indiscriminate slaughter to their final confrontation with the Mexican army which explodes into choreographed carnage. In the process, we watch the pieties of the classical Western being blown apart.
The film’s extremes of violence might seem a response to a contemporary era of political assassination and Vietnam, yet there is something more: Peckinpah’s ambivalence about an American adventurism that can no longer be endorsed with the usual swagger, yet a lament for a vitality and individualism being lost with the closing of the frontier. All this is anticipated in the film’s famous opening, as children (the future) watch a scorpion (the Wild Bunch) being assailed by hordes of killer ants (the modern world). Avenging itself on Western myths of heroism, The Wild Bunch paradoxically revitalised the genre, dragging it, kicking and screaming, into the twentieth century. After this fabulously directed masterwork, the Western could never be — and has never been — the same.

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