June 18, 2020

Birthday of The Wild Bunch

On June 18, 1969 the premiere of the film The Wild Bunch was held in Los Angeles, California (USA). Directed by Sam Peckinpah.

The main distinguishing feature of the film noted by almost all critics is the level of violence that goes beyond the limits (for that time!). Today, in my opinion, in the films of, for instance, Tarantino, blood, probably, flows many times more. But observant film critics have calculated that in the The Wild Bunch there is an average one dead body for one minute of screen time.

They say that at the pre-premiere show many viewers vomited from the abundance of blood on the screen. A few dozen people could not watch the film to the end. Here are some gentle nerves of the American audience in the late 60s!

Perhaps for this reason, The Wild Bunch did not take part in the most prestigious film forums and, accordingly, cannot boast of prestigious film awards. Although the film still obtained 6 prizes.

But since then, much has changed dramatically. It is not by chance that the protagonist of most American westerns, the legend of American cinema John Wayne, according to film critic John Rieber, stated that “The Wild Bunch” destroyed the myth of the Old, Good West. As for me, in this statement the key word is "myth."

And John Ryber himself develops Wayne’s thought, stating that the “The Wild Bunch” marked the beginning of a new wave of cinematographers who strip away the sugarcoating from the "noble" conquerors of the West and showed a complete analogy of the "old, good West" with the country’s folly in Vietnam.

I cannot help but quote the respected film critic Roger Ebert, who wrote as many as 3 reviews of this film (in 1969, 1995 and 2002), rated it with a maximum of 4 stars and included it in his list of “Greatest Films”: " I suppose "The Wild Bunch" is the most violent movie ever made. Hundreds of men, women and horses are slaughtered. A man is dragged behind a horse. Throats are slit, broken, strangled. Blood flows in an unending stream. Thanks to recent advances in special effects, the blood actually spurts when somebody gets shot; there are geysers of blood everywhere. A friend of mine describes "The Wild Bunch" as being 200 simultaneous blood transfusions with no recipients.... I am aware that the shootings in "The Wild Bunch" are the most realistic ever filmed. But realism is not the same thing as reality. The wounds look terribly real in "The Wild Bunch," yes, but it is impossible to forget that this is a movie. Indeed, the extreme realism of "The Wild Bunch" actually reminds you that it's a movie."

In the USSR, this film was not shown. In Russia, the official premiere of the film took place in 2011 in frames of the Moscow International Film Festival.

According to rumors Mel Gibson is shooting a remake of this picture. We'll see.

According to the FilmGourmand version the film has a rating of 7.878 and ranks 877th place in the Golden Thousand.