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Straw Dogs 40th Anniversary [Blu-ray]
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One of Sam Peckinpah's most controversial efforts, this film came out at a critical moment in the early 1970s, released in the same month as both Dirty Harry and A Clockwork Orange, causing a furor over film violence. Based on a little-known British novel, the film casts Dustin Hoffman as a bookish American mathematician on sabbatical in rural England, in the town where his young bride (Susan George) grew up. He finds himself forced to defend his home against an assault by local toughs, and discovers a frighteningly feral and vicious side to himself. Though Straw Dogs has a reputation for graphic violence, it actually looks tame by contemporary standards. Instead, the violence is psychological, and the suspense and shocks are induced by the editing--you're more terrified by what you think you see than by what you are actually shown. --Marshall Fine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Despite its superior tone and a few debatable assertions, the Straw Dogs commentary by Peckinpah scholar Stephen Prince is astutely observant and thematically cohesive, effectively placing the film in its proper sociopolitical context. Prince's articulate reasoning corrects decades of misguided critical analysis while supporting Peckinpah's artistic intentions, including the fact that Dustin Hoffman plays the "heavy," and not the British bullies who provoke him to violence. The superb BBC documentary Sam Peckinpah: Man of Iron offers perfect balance from the artist's perspective, as a majority of Peckinpah's closest friends and colleagues reminisce about a difficult man who inspired great extremes of passion. Highlights include anecdotes by Kris Kristofferson and longtime Peckinpah associate and screenwriter James Silke, whose shared memories are heartbreakingly poignant.
A 1971 on-set profile of Hoffman offers a fascinating portrait of the actor at the peak of early success, eager to transcend his Graduate persona. Similar British archival clips show Peckinpah at work; teasing glimpses of a gentleman who never suffered fools. The love-hate dynamic that Peckinpah inspired is especially evident in the illuminating 2002 interviews with Straw Dogs costar Susan George and producer Daniel Melnick, both full of anecdotal affection, humor, and pride in their controversial film; it's a pity Hoffman didn't participate. Peckinpah himself is powerfully present in written response to critics and detractors, and in a prickly 1974 interview with French-Canadian critic Andre Leroux. Taken together, these and other excellent supplements convey the depth and sophistication of a self-proclaimed violent man who had noble reasons for elevating the depiction and discussion of cinematic violence. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Incidentally, right after watching this film I found a documentary on cable about filmmakers from the late '60s to late '70s and one of the directors profiled was Sam Peckinpah. I had always considered his films to be violent and vaguely shocking, which never surprised me, knowing that he was a hard-living maverick who did things his way - an element that is resplendent in most of his films. A brief mention of Straw Dogs was included in this documentary, where they described it as a "sexist film". There are obvious scenes in the film that could support this criticism, but I think that is overanalyzing the film with a political correctness that is out of place. While the two female characters are both victimized, Susan George also has her moments of empowerment. I may be a female, but I don't consider Peckinpah's tendency to make testosterone-driven films any more sexist than anything that Tarantino puts out, and I'm a big fan of his work as well.Read more ›
of course, most people will probably want to see the movie for its infamous rape scene (which got the film banned in the UK, where it was filmed). Not only is the rape graphic, but the victim actually appears to enjoy it; at least at first. Here I must disagree with the lengthy rant of a prior reviewer when I say that the rape scene is not simply an exercise in mysoginy, but rather helps to show just how immasculinated the main character has become. Throughout the first half of the movie we see his wife slowly flirting with the contractors (at one point even letting them see her topless). This suggests quite obviously that she has become so disgruntled with her husbands lack of backbone that she is actively seducing the very masculine contractors, and the fact that she enjoys the rape is simply the logical extreme of her desire to have a truly "manly" partner. Of course, those who've seen the movie know that eventually she's punished for her covetry of man's aggressive nature.
Overall, I highly recommend this movie.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Great movie - loaded with extras and also, fast and quick service by the seller in the UK..Published 17 months ago by W McMaster
I saw the movie years ago and thought it was groundbreaking. The violence is intense but I found myself totally engrossed in the turbulence. Read morePublished on Aug. 17 2013 by John G. Hunter
I bought the DVD to preserve the memory of a movie I saw shortly after its release. I am not sure which genre it fits under but the script is original, the story taut, the acting... Read morePublished on June 20 2013 by Dr. M. Koblic
I'm very glad that I bought this movie.
It's a very nice movie and I can see why they did a remake. Read more
The DVD stops about 3/4 of the way through and then goes to the main menu. If you then choose "scenes" to return to where you were it continues to do the same thing. Read morePublished on Nov. 21 2011 by Geoff
This movie was even more amazing watching it on our large screen tv - we hadn't seen it for more than 25 years and it was crystal clear. Read morePublished on Oct. 13 2011 by Irish Coleen