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Wild Bunch, The

Director: Sam Peckinpah's

(USA| 1969. Colour. Anamorphic. Dolby digital stereo. 145 mins.)


Director Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch was a watershed film in the history of the western. In telling of the exploits of a bunch of outlaws committed to finding self-affirmation through bloody violence, Peckinpah apotheosised the death-wish and the death throes of a whole cultural form and destroyed the currency of its language. From the extraordinary opening onwards, launched by a classic Eisensteinian piece of parallel montage where some children (the future) watch a scorpion (the Wild Bunch) being devoured by hordes of ants (the modern world), The Wild Bunch represents a compulsive drive towards death. With the decline and imminent demise of John Ford, it fell to Peckinpah to complete the exploration of the fundamental ambivalence of the American frontier myth. It was Peckinpah’s destiny to articulate this ambivalence definitively in The Wild Bunch. It was his tragedy and his fate that he could only do this honestly by pushing the Western towards self-destruction.

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