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>
There have been three different cuts of this film: (1) the 106-minute theatrical release; (2) in 1988, a 122-minute restored version, known as the Turner Preview Version; (3) in 2005, a 115-minute restored version, known as the Special Edition. See more »
I saw this was on TCM the other night and I recorded it, merely because I knew it was supposed to be good and I hadn't seen a Peckinpah film before. Despite how massive TCM's black screen banners are, and despite how quiet the film was, it still kept me engaged. James Coburns' masterful performance as wrinkly bandit Pat Garret was smouldering, his lawman bubbled with a mix of sadism, violence, and broken honour. He was far and away the best actor in the film. Comparatively, Kris Kristofferson just didn't hold up, I just plain didn't like him, and he didn't come across strongly enough as anything. It seems to me he's grown more expressive and nuanced as he's gotten older, though it may just be that against a giant like Coburn he seemed like little more than a distraction.
Though his performance was woeful, Dylan's soundtrack is a thing of beauty and joy, setting the tone of the movie, perfectly complimenting some scenes and brilliantly offsetting others. The scene in which Knocking On Heavens Door is used is possibly one of the most beautiful and moving sequences in any film I've seen, it was utterly breathtaking.
Much of that is done by the cinematography, which is frequently fantastic. There are several shots that had my mouth wide open, agape. Peckinpah is also well versed in directing shoot-out's,and building tension before and after. Though the make up and special effects look laughable now, the brutality and voyeurism of the violence haven't faded one iota.
The print was very quiet though, so it was often hard to decipher what people were saying. As such, there were various moments when I was just waiting for the next scene, as the one playing was too quiet to enjoy.
This is a film that I can't wait to watch again, and will certainly be buying on DVD, along with the soundtrack on CD. A brilliant, moving western from a great director.
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