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Hill almost elevates cinema violence into an art form...
As Sam Peckinpah's 'The Getaway,' Walter Hill's 'The Long Riders' almost elevates cinema violence into an art form
Visually, 'The Long Riders' contains much that is stunning, even mesmerizing: the green Missouri scenic landscapes; the train robbery sequence; the stagecoach heist; the crossing of a wild river; but there is no question that it is the scene of the gang's disastrous foray into Northfield, Minnesota - that highlight this film These specific episodes give 'The Long Riders' its rhythm, power, spectacle, and excitement
With his slow motion 'terror shootout,' Hill seems to impress his viewers by showing them an inventive montage of high-level gory violence But Hill's most wonderful sequences are those that were the most reserved: the wonderful moment when Frank is cutting the hardest wood with a forest ax and his brother Jesse, walking with his fiancée, attempting to settle down and raise a family
Hill may have a reputation for being a tough guy, but his best screen moments (in "Hard Times", "The Warriors", "Streets of Fire") are the ones in which he allows his romantic tendencies to slip through, when he gives his characters the dignity that means so much to them Hill tries to debunk the American myth that Western gunfighters were "heroes," and to show these embittered guys for the 'rough men that they really were.'
Hill's real intention is to present us with a gang of four families of brothers, and get us to accept them on their own terms, in their own brutal world The men of 'The Long Riders' are at their most dastardly at the beginning of the film when Ed Miller (Dennis Quaid) indiscriminately shoots an innocent clerk, but for the rest of the film
one by one - Hill reveals their better, more 'human' sides We
further get to appreciate them as we compare them to the awful men around them; next to the Pinkertons killing a simple-minded 15 year old boy, they come out best, the 'good guys.'
To Hill, good and bad aren't on opposite sides of the coin; they share the edge
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