Mickey Knox and Mallory Wilson aren't your typical lovers - after killing her abusive father, they go on a road trip where, every time they stop somewhere, they kill pretty well everyone around them. They do however leave one person alive at every shootout to tell the story and they soon become a media sensation thanks to sensationalized reporting. Told in a highly visual style. Written by
Director Oliver Stone calls the frequent cuts to black and white, where dialogue is often repeated with a slightly different intonation, "vertical cutting". Stone explains that the idea behind the technique is to create an outer moment (the color footage) and an inner moment (the black and white footage) at the same time. For example, he explains this in relation to the waitress in the opening scene (O-Lan Jones), who whilst taking Mickey's order in the 'outer' scene is actually flirting with him (or thinking about flirting with him) in the 'inner' scene. Also in the opening scene, when the cowboy ('James Gammon') refers to Mallory as "pussy", there is a flash cut to Mickey covered in blood; this is Mickey's 'inner' moment. See more »
Several times during the Prison riot scenes people's weapons constantly reload 'magically' as no one (save Mickey) is ever seen to be reloading their weapons, nor even seen to be procuring shells or magazines from the bodies of guards, yet they still continue to fire. Again, this comes from reading the film too literally; the riot is not supposed to be taken as a realistic depiction of a riot. See more »
The end credits are superimposed over a vast amount of stock footage, ranging from the future of Mickey and Mallory, stock A-Bomb tests, childhood photos of Mickey and Mallory, time-lapse footage, scenes from the movie, and so on. See more »
After viewing this film many, many times since I first saw it I came to the conclusion that this film basically put on screen my feelings as to why I disliked and still continue to dislike the 90's/Post-Millenium American Pseudo-Culture. At first I did not understand it (the metaphors and such) but having viewed it countless times over the past few years I have developed an understanding of this truly remarkable film.
Critics over the years have panned this film as a 'glorification of meaningless violence', when in fact the film itself is basically the 90's equivalent to Kubrick's 'Dr. Strangelove', where it turns the paranoia of a nation into satire and then deconstruct it in the best way possible. Everybody who is reading this review right now has probably seen the film anyway so I won't reiterate the plot, but what I will do is try and help explain the concept of the film since it's quite obvious that there are a few people out there who don't understand this film.
The 90's - A decade after the Reagan years and a time for the next generation to settle down and basque in the trails of excess that the previous decade left behind. What are we left with in Western Civilization? Media sensationalism and the counter-culture of people who watch car crashes.
Oliver Stone very much plays on the idea of 'serial-killer-turns-media-story-turns-pop-icon' which has been quite evident in the cases of people such as Charles Manson and Richard Ramirez. What Oliver Stone manages to do is portray the negative in the 90's, particularly American pseudo-culture in the 90's. You have Rodney King, O.J Simpson, Tonya Harding, Waco, The Menendez Brothers... and all these things are linked by a single medium, 90's television. The sensationalism of the media saturates most of Western Civilization today, and we live in a world where it's more important to see celebrities on the front of magazines or right-wing televangelists telling us that we need to give them money than it is to focus on the real issues that exist in this world. 'Natural Born Killers' relates to this. What 'Natural Born Killers' plays on is the question - 'why did we, the people, turn on to CNN and watch a white bronco cruising through the streets of Los Angeles one day in 1994?'. In turn, 'Natural Born Killers' plays on the culture-question - 'why do people stop to see car crashes?'. It also asks the question - 'Is that guy on television crazy because he's killed 90+ people or am I crazy for watching a white bronco cruise through the streets of Los Angeles?'. So there are 3 questions that 'Natural Born Killers' raises without a lot of people really understanding them. What the film does - instead of answering these questions - is let the viewer decide for himself or herself whether the serial killer on television is crazy for killing people or we are crazy for actually watching a serial killer talk on television.
So why do the critics despise this film? The critics despise this film because what they see on the film is themselves in Wayne Gale. Robert Downey Jnr accurately portrays the absolute false hysteria and false machismo of tabloid figures such as Geraldo Riviera and Oprah Windfrey et al, in his characterisation of Wayne Gale. He plays the archetypal media figurehead that lives in newsrooms, talking into mobile phones, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, watching television and living deceitful private lives. Another reason why the critics hate this film is because of the subversive message that it portrays in the script. The writers grew up in the 50's and 60's when the paranoia of Cold War was still in their faces everywhere they went. After the Cold War was over these same people started asking themselves, "well, who is the enemy now?". Some of them started realising that the enemy wasn't 10,000 miles away hiding in a mountain, the problem was not attached to a very large metal object that goes 'boom!', but rather the fact that the real enemy is in the corporations and media, the real power of a nation doesn't rely in the leader but the television. 'Natural Born Killers' subversively explains this, that THEY are the problem, and many members of the mainstream media didn't like because they were what the film was about.
Why do the general public despise this film? Because the same people who hate this film are the same people who the film-makers were laughing at when they made it. When the character of Mickey is on the television giving his interview, and the film cuts to a simple black and white image from a stock house of a typical American family sitting around the television, the same people who hate this film are the typical American family sitting around watching the interview, glued to the television like mindless zombies.
Overall - this film is brilliant and it tells it exactly how it is.
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