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Figures in a Landscape (1970)

R  |   |  Action, Thriller  |  11 November 1970 (France)
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Two escapees (Robert Shaw and Malcolm McDowell) are on the run in an unspecified but seemingly Latin-American country. Everywhere they go they are observed and hounded by a menacing black ... See full summary »



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Complete credited cast:
Henry Woolf ...
Helicopter Pilot
Christopher Malcolm ...
Helicopter observer
Andy Bradford ...
Soldier (as Andrew Bradford)
Warwick Sims ...
Soldier (as Roger Lloyd-Pack)
Robert East ...
Tariq Yunus ...
Pamela Brown ...


Two escapees (Robert Shaw and Malcolm McDowell) are on the run in an unspecified but seemingly Latin-American country. Everywhere they go they are observed and hounded by a menacing black helicopter. Written by Jonathon Dabell <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Freedom isn't force. See more »


Action | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence | See all certifications »




Release Date:

11 November 1970 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Figuras en un paisaje  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Filming took four months See more »


Music by Julián Palanca
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User Reviews

Robert Shaw and Malcolm McDowell are pursued by an ominous helicopter through gorgeous country
13 April 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Figures in a Landscape" is an extremely well-done movie, but most viewers who are used to movies with familiar stories and story-telling are unlikely to like it right off. Expose the average person to some great innovative painting and the person will be puzzled and put off by it, not knowing what to think. This movie may or may not be great, but it's sure to puzzle people looking for clarity of exposition or seeking to understand the back stories of its main characters.

The story opens with McDowell and Shaw, hands tied behind their backs, running while being pursued by a helicopter. They are running through a gorgeous landscape, and we see more and more features of it as they pass through gulches, canyons, river beds, lush areas, tiny inhabited villages, cultivated areas, ending up in beautiful mountainous terrain with snow patches. The filming is excellent.

The helicopter pursues them at extremely low altitude at times. The flying skill this takes and the photography both are off the chart. They are that good. The helicopter's intrusions and pursuits are handled in such a way that the meanness and cruelty of the pursuers becomes evident, and that's their character. They are playing cat and mouse. A cat will toy with the mouse once it catches it, and the helicopter's pursuers are the cat. This stands for the cruelty that human beings can and do exercise. The landscape is not cruel in this movie, nor is it benign. It offers the two men a good many opportunities to escape their pursuers. Apart from some rain which is no big problem, the obstacles faced by Shaw and McDowell are human ones, including their own weaknesses, antagonisms to overcome, past memories, habits and hunger.

The men go through one adventure after another during the chase. It's really a sequence of different chases, each one different but with the helicopter usually present. After awhile, the two escapees are pursued by many armed soldiers. As an adventure movie alone, the movie is very good. The staging of many scenes is excellent.

There's a full original score by Richard Rodney Bennett. It's terrific.

The story is a microcosm of many features of life as lived by human beings. One theme is predation. Human beings can be predators. The helicopter is a predator. As predator, Shaw kills an innocent goat shepherd. McDowell is revolted, but subsequently he becomes a predator. And this is not predation for food. Human beings have many motives for being predators.

But another theme is cooperation. The two men differ greatly, but they need to cooperate to have a chance of escape. Eventually, they exhibit loneliness, a need for companionship and love. Their values differ greatly but they cooperate nonetheless.

Shaw plays a character who believes in fairness by his own measure. To him, having to kill while McDowell doesn't help is unfair. Similarly, having been suppressed in his life, he gleefully enjoys getting back at his oppressors, even if it means his own life. His thirst for revenge runs so deep that he would die to quench it.

If you take each aspect of the movie as it comes and simply look at the behaviors of the principal characters, you will see microcosms of life. Reduced to starvation, men will steal. Reduced to imprisonment, they will escape if they can.

Another theme is the hope of attaining a near impossible goal. The two men think of really escaping as being almost impossible, even though their thirst for freedom is strong enough to try.

These are two quite ordinary men with few resources, struggling not against nature so much as against other men who wish to imprison them again and hold them in captivity. How they found themselves pursued is not as important to the story teller as how they acquit themselves and their drive for freedom.

Conventional story telling might have diluted the ways in which these themes come through in the two men without unessential elaboration of their pasts.

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