Top 10 Reasons for Watching “The Wild Bunch”

September 2, 2007 at 4:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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The Filmmuseum in Vienna has just launched the second part of its Western series, this time devoted to later Westerns (and, thankfully in my opinion, because it bored me to pieces which led to people accusing me of having no heart: Brokeback Moutain is not in it). There are only a few movies from the 1980s, one from the 1990s (Jarmusch’s Dead Man), but the main focus is on 1960s’, 1970s’ Western.

It started off with Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (USA, 144 min.). What a movie! If I ever hear anybody say again that 300 had good fighting scenes, I’ll give them a personal slapping and place them in front of a TV set to watch TWB (filmed in Panavision, so a TV would not quite be the real thing). Or any Peckinpah, I figure. Shot bodies gliding through the air in slow motion, evaporating in a crimson explosion whilst being perforated by more bullets, but also (male) bodies, shook by the most throaty, whiskey-stained of laughters, horses collapsing on dunes, tumbling into exploding bridges. Wooah.

So here are my Top 10 Reasons for Watching “The Wild Bunch”:
_The opening scene: dirty, kids, scorpios, ants, the Wild Bunch; the title design that freezes the scene into black and white, reduced still frames
_Ernest Borgnine, for his physical presence and his fabulous set of teeth (pretty much the antithesis to Gary What’s-His-Name’s pearly whites; Jetsam wrote about them recently)
_Ben Johnson’s boyish laughter
_the scene where Angel’s village bids farewell to the passing Wild Bunch (the music, the choreography of the gifts they receive, the flower for Ernest Borgnine)
_the arrival scene at General Mopache’s (the whores, the general’s crowd, the odd German imperial army member, the ensuing bath and celebration)
_General Mopache’s (?) side-kick, the Mexican corporal who looks and talks frighteningly like Borat – can this really be a coincidence?
_the sun glistening on the faces of old and aging men – hardly a youthful hunk in there (Angel, for reasons you’ll witness, doesn’t count)
_the quiet scene in which the Bunch shares the last bottle of whiskey after they’ve secured the rifles – where everyone gets a sip except Ben Johnson, followed by another explosion of laughter
_the look on Angel’s face when they visit the general a last time which gives him away
_and of course the mighty, mighty final shoot-out, framed by the mindless chitchat of the ‘gutter trash’ that follows Thornton, to whom a shootout is nothing but a welcome opportunity to loot the dead

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