Upon moving to Britain to get away from American violence, astrophysicist David Sumner and his wife Amy are bullied and taken advantage of by the locals hired to do construction. When David finally takes a stand it escalates quickly into a bloody battle as the locals assault his house.Written by
Andrew Hyatt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The men open the mantrap for display then ask where to put it. They are asked to hang it above the fireplace. The guns which were hanging there whilst they opened the trap have, in the meantime, disappeared. See more »
The video version was twice rejected by the British Board of Film Classification in 1999 after the distributors refused to cut forcible stripping and any signs that Susan George was "enjoying" the rape. Video versions were available in Britain before the 1984 law which required all videos to be classified. There were two such releases, one of which was uncut, and one which lost some dialogue due to print damage. As of 1st July 2002, the full version of the film has been passed uncut for video and DVD release by the BBFC. See more »
One of the most realistic portrayals of emotion on film.
In the early 2000s, there was a breakout of movies labeled as "torture porn", which all had three main factors. First, they were intended to make the audience feel the same utter desperation as the tortured characters on screen. Second, they almost always had a deep social portrayal. And, third, they were always rejected by hypocritical critics who failed to see intelligence in desperation, then went off and praised hollow "fine cinema" pieces for "saying something about the human condition". These types of films have always interested me because they mix unrelenting pace with a non-genetic message about how humans tend to think. And I find it interesting that Straw Dogs (1971), while not really a "torture" film, has every single aspect I just listed. While it's gained a lot more credit today, in its time, it was just as hated by the critics as "torture porn" is now. It's funny how easily society can completely be in denial when a movie like Straw Dogs says something about the human condition no one will dare say, while society can then go and praise some completely hollow, cliché-spewing film like (excuse the modern example) No Country for Old Men. I find that hypocrisy almost comical. And I think, maybe, that was one of Straw Dog's points.
So what makes Straw Dogs so intelligent? Well, first, it is simply one of the few accurate portrayals of REAL human emotion in cinema. Realism is a word that is thrown around constantly by writers/directors, but as Hollywood gets closer to what it thinks is realism, it just takes five steps back from being truly anything like how real humans think. Very few movies have ever achieved truly expressing how people interact without turning the characters into some podium to preach some idea the writer/director has, or just turning the characters into pieces of cardboard that move the plot along. Contrary to popular belief, the greatest acting in the world can't fix unrealistic characters. That works just about as much as a pretty coat of paint fixes a house that's ready to collapse in on itself. The emotion is Straw Dog's shining point. The two main characters' emotions are portrayed differently in every situation. One scene will end with a loving moment, then the next will open with a bitter one, then the next will open with completely indifference. Things that should have an emotional impact on the characters doesn't have any whatsoever. Actions that should cause them negative emotion cause them pleasure. Just when you find a character totally likable, they'll do something to ruin that feelinga lot like the betrayal of a friend. Put simply: I've seen countless movies in my life, but never once have I seen a movie with this much of a realistic emotional core.
Likewise, without spoiling anything, Straw Dogs goes where no movie in its time dared to go with its subject matter. While I wouldn't necessary call every idea presented here original, some of them are, and not a single one of them is a cliché. It's very relatable to A Clockwork Orangewhich came out the same yearin that way. I find it sad, however, that A Clockwork Orange is now considered some sort of classic, while Straw Dogs is still lesser known to the general public than a lot of foreign indie films. Straw Dogs nearly singlehandedly formed the groundwork for the thriller genre, and its influence can be seen in everything from other 70s movies to whatever cliché thriller is playing at the local theater as I type this. The ending is pure intensity, and very few movies can pull that off. The kills in the end of the film are a lot more graphic than anything I expected from a 70s film, and some are just brutal. Straw Dogs deserves more recognition.
So, if my review is entirely positive, why do I not give this a higher score? As much as I can relate to this movie, and as much as I appreciate it, I think giving this a perfect score is an insult to what the director was going for. Sam Peckinpah didn't want this film to be entertaining; he wanted it to truly disturb the viewer. Though that may be a little hard to do now in 2009, due to the countless rip-offs and rehashes of the subject matter, this is nowhere near easy viewing. Perfection is an extension of contentment, and I personally was not content with this movie. I wasn't supposed to be. It's a point-blank contradiction to the Hollywood formula that states you have to make the viewer go in their pants out of awe/contentment or you haven't done your job. That's why I can't give Straw Dogs a perfect score, but it didn't want one. It's too honest for that. It's too intelligent for that.
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