Sunday, September 28, 2008

BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (George Roy Hill, 1969, USA) One of the great post-modern revisionist westerns, this self-aware genre blending film neither takes itself too seriously nor descends into a cheap melodrama. Newman and Redford mesh perfectly as the roguish renegades; Butch as the prankster and Sundance as the churlish gunman. This is the rare film when all the elements fit perfectly together: The direction, writing, acting, editing, cinematography, and score. Katherine Ross was fine as the love-interest but really adds nothing to the story: I believe her character was written so as not to confuse audiences as to our protagonist’s sexuality! She was not needed to offer a “jumping-off” point for the narrative because the scene with the sheriff, during the posse chase sequence (who are those guys?) gave them the needed motive. Etta Place may have been the feminine voice of reason but she joins in their Bolivian capers and escapes in the nick of time. Butch is smart enough to understand their life expectancy is rather limited, and the scene just before the Bolivian montage poetically portrays his frustration: he angrily throws the bicycle (which was used in an earlier love scene) to the ground…he knows that this heap of metal will last longer than him. During the final shootout, he and Sundance talk about their future and escaping to Australia to rob more banks; but their eyes reveal the terror and knowledge that this is finally it. The final freeze-frame ending is profound. (A+)

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