The Wild Bunch (Widescreen Director's Cut)
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Here's how director Sam Peckinpah described his motivation behind The Wild Bunch at the time of the film's 1969 release: "I was trying to tell a simple story about bad men in changing times. The Wild Bunch is simply what happens when killers go to Mexico. The strange thing is you feel a great sense of loss when these killers reach the end of the line." All of these statements are true, but they don't begin to cover the impact that Peckinpah's film had on the evolution of American movies. Now the film is most widely recognized as a milestone event in the escalation of screen violence, but that's a label of limited perspective. Of course, Peckinpah's bloody climactic gunfight became a masterfully directed, photographed, and edited ballet of graphic violence that transcended the conventional Western and moved into a slow-motion realm of pure cinematic intensity. But the film--surely one of the greatest Westerns ever made--is also a richly thematic tale of, as Peckinpah said, "bad men in changing times." The year is 1913 and the fading band of thieves known as the Wild Bunch (led by William Holden as Pike) decide to pull one last job before retirement. But an ambush foils their plans, and Peckinpah's film becomes an epic yet intimate tale of betrayed loyalties, tenacious rivalry, and the bunch's dogged determination to maintain their fading code of honor among thieves. The 144-minute director's cut enhances the theme of male bonding that recurs in many of Peckinpah's films, restoring deleted scenes to deepen the viewer's understanding of the friendship turned rivalry between Pike and his former friend Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan), who now leads a posse in pursuit of the bunch, a dimension that adds resonance to an already classic American film. The Wild Bunch is a masterpiece that should not be defined strictly in terms of its violence, but as a story of mythic proportion, brimming with rich characters and dialogue and the bittersweet irony of outlaw traditions on the wane. --Jeff Shannon
Paul Seydor's excellent Oscar-nominated documentary short from 1996, The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage, is included on the 30th Anniversary video. Seydor--a noted film historian and editor, as well as the author of Peckinpah: The Western Films--A Reconsideration--used previously unseen behind-the-scenes footage as the basis for this expertly crafted short. The silent, black and white film is accompanied by reminiscences from principal members of Peckinpah's cast and crew, in addition to voice-over quotations from the late director himself (as read by actor Ed Harris). Filled with anecdotes about the production and Peckinpah's inspired use of improvisation (including the film's climactic scene known as "the long walk"), this 34-minute film offers a rare glimpse of Peckinpah's creative process, his driven personality, and the technical challenges of creating the most infamous shootout in the history of film. Imagine a shortage of costumes and an excess of fake blood and bullet holes, and you'll gain a greater appreciation of The Wild Bunch and the effort that went into its creation. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
What makes this movie special, along with the groundbreaking filmmaking of Sam Peckinpah, is the cast. The whole cast gives excellent performances. William Holden stars as Pike Bishop, the leader of the Wild Bunch who knows time is running out for the bunch. His right hand man, Dutch Engstrom, is played by Ernest Borgnine in a perfect part for him. Robert Ryan plays Deke Thornton, a former member of the Wild Bunch and the unwilling leader of the posses following the gang.Read more ›
Sam Peckinpah's movies have often been criticized as being too violent. Well, as expected, the violence is there in this film, but it is certainly no worse than anything you'd see nowadays. The only difference between Peckinpah's violence and the violence in today's films is that Peckinpah uses the violent confrontations to both help the story and also develop the characters.
The main characters in this film are ornery, yet have a touch of humanity that is absolutely believable. You laugh with them, cry with them and care what happens to them, all with the understanding that you would NEVER want to run into them in a dark alley. This character development is part the work of Peckinpah and part the work of the actors (William Holden, Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates, etc). There isn't a bad performance or wasted word between these characters.
So I strongly recommend this film. It is a treat to behold. And, if you've never seen it, I envy you the experience you are about to have.
A story of a gang of over the hill gunmen whose past glory is an old west being overtaken by modernity. This is more than just a western, it rises above the genre into reflections on what it means to be a man and living up to a personal code even if it's one of violence and crime. Strangley enough you find a sense of respect for these losers and thieves with their special though violent codes of honor. Even the bloody ending isn't gratuitous the way that modern action films are.
The casting is excellent. There are no "heroes" here in the normal sense of the word. The real heart of the movie comes from the decision the group makes near the end that condemns them, a decision taken without any words or discussion, only knowing glances. Their code and sense of honor, intact in spite of their lifestyle, tell's them that's the path they must choose.
The directors cut is even better than the studio release. It is the version of the film that Peckinpah wanted shown before the studio cut it down to ninety or so minutes.
A great film, deserving of its status in the top 100 films of all time.
The acting is first rate. Holden and Borgnine are excellent as always. Robert Ryan, as the "villian" of the piece is soulful and pressed into service with those he despises. The rest of the cast is outstanding as well, making up one of the best ensembles in filmmaking anywhere. Angel ranks right up there with Ethan Edwards,Shane and William Munny as one of the most compelling characters to come from the Western genre.
The action is brilliantly done. The two blazing gunfights, one at the beginning the other at the end, are stunning and mind blowing. These people come alive and we feel for them as they suffer.
Peckinpahs makes sure to show the good and the bad. The outlaws have more fun and laughter than most I've seen, but they are bathed in tragedy.
The most powerful moment in the film is the confrontation lkeading up to the final battle. The villian's actions, condemning him to death. Those few seconds of dead silence before the shooting starts in earnest are stunning and moving.
Recommended if you can take a little violence.
Most recent customer reviews
A classic American western with a great cast. The director brought out drama, sorrow and comedy. All in this wonderful film.Published 3 months ago by Fred Conrad
This movie turns the page on the old mythologies of the Old West. The Old West where outlaws and anti-heroes first started to become romanticized by the American public at large. Read morePublished 3 months ago
There's almost a apathetic humor to the amount of violence in this movie. Starting with the kids torturing a scorpion in a sea of red ants, as the Pike and his gang dressed as... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Johnny Rocker
Didn't think this would be so bloody for such a old film! Awesome.Published 16 months ago by JaCk_CaCk
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