In 1864, due to frequent Apache raids from Mexico into the U.S., a Union officer decides to illegally cross the border and destroy the Apache, using a mixed army of Union troops, Confederate POWs, civilian mercenaries, and scouts.
It's 1881 in New Mexico, and the times they are a'changing. Pat Garrett, erstwhile travelling companion of the outlaw Billy the Kid has become a sheriff, tasked by cattle interests with ridding the territory of Billy. After Billy escapes, Pat assembles a posse and chases him through the territory, culminating in a final confrontation at Fort Sumner, but is unaware of the full scope of the cattle interests' plans for the New West. Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
As Pat Leaves Fort Sumner, a young boy throws stones at him. In longer shots, Pat and the boy are in shadow, but the close shots of the boy show him in bright sunshine with clear sharp shadows defined. See more »
[Billy aims a shotgun at Ollinger]
How's Jesus look to you now, Bob?
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I enjoyed the film very much, in part because Peckinpah continues his theme, as he did in "Ballad of Cable Hogue" and "The Wild Bunch", of the illusion of who is "good" and who is "evil." Also, Peckinpah mourns the passing of people such as Garrett and Billy; at one point Garrett says to Poe, "This country's getting old, and I'm to get old with it." Garrett knows that he and Billy, among others, are to disappear from the West as big business and civilization advance, and Garrett tries to avoid this by selling out to Chisum (Barry Sullivan) and the Santa Fe Ring. But Garrett is a torn man; he is trying to avoid the tide of history by avoiding the eventual meeting with Billy, while also trying to avoid the financial forces (e.g., Chisum) that are making individuals such as himself disappear, so that big business will take over. The entire film is really a depiction of Garrett and Billy avoiding each other in order to resist historical forces that they would have a better chance of surviving if both of them left New Mexico or if both of them were on the same side. However, Garrett feels that aligning himself with the ranchers is better for survival, but in the end the hand that fed him, so to speak, is the same hand that destroys him. A truly poetic, and quite elegiac film, one that I feel is underrated among Peckinpah's films.
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