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  • Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid
    • Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid
    • Runtime:122 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-17 12:19:33
    • Director: Sam Peckinpah
    • Genres: Drama, History, Western
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid


Where to start? First and most obvious is the truly annoying
'soundtrack' provided by the droning voice of Bob Dylan, If you're a
fan, I'm sorry. Bob Dylan can't act (or sing) and this movie is proof
positive of that, but I'm sure it put butts in the theater seats due to
his celebrity. Second, The story was obviously revisionist history run
amok, the movie loses points for that as well. Third, I can't stand
Kris Kristofferson, not to mention that he's completely mis-cast in the
roll of Billy the Kid. Fourth, Sam Peckinpah is highly over rated as a
director (not that anyone else could have made this mess of a movie
more palatable)

Are you getting the point?

James Coburn did an admirable job but I got the feeling that he knew
this movie was doomed from the start.


I would really like to know/see Sam Peckinpah's vision for what this
film should be, but apparently no one knows. It was some of James
Coburn's best work, nuance behind the icy stare. Yes, Kris
Kristofferson was clearly too old to play the historic William Bonney,
but the historic Bonney couldn't possibly have had the charisma, and
had time to form such friendships, at his age. So, you just have to
accept that it's not a documentary. It was neat to see so many
well-known faces in small parts. And Bob Dylan did just fine playing an
enigmatic character. So many singers, and lately wrestlers and other
athletes have done acceptable acting jobs that it makes me think that
acting isn't really that hard. They are not DeNiros, or Streeps, but
they frequently get the job done. Anyway, PGABTK, I found, to be well
worth the investment of time to watch.


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just saw this film again, and watched the 88 version this time. Pat
Garrett & Billy the Kid is a brave film. It is a western about people
who don't want to fight! Pat tries for the longest time to not face
Billy, hoping that he runs away to Mexico. This means that there is
really not much of an action, except in the beginning and the end. So,
how does one fill up the middle part? Sam does it by making a film, not
so much about Pat and Billy but more about the dying wild west (a theme
you will find in almost all of his films). There is a melancholy which
runs through the whole film. Like we are at a funeral of an era and no
one really knows what's coming. The mood reminds me of Days of Heaven
(Terrence Malick). This is an Autumn film, a twilight film, an evening
film or what ever you would want to call it. A film about knowing that
the end is drawing near and not wanting to face it.

I'm a huge Bob Dylan fan but I don't think he was good in this film and
I really don't see why he had to be in it. His character makes little
sense. The music is good, though I wish the 88 version had the lyrics
to Knockin on Heaven's Door.

The trouble with the film is the editing. What Sam was trying here is
so delicate, so fragile that it has to be perfectly edited to really
fly. Just think Mirror by Tarkovsky. There is really no other way to
edit that film. Tarkovsky tried 30 ways (if I remember correctly)
before he discovered the right one. He later said that the film would
have been a disaster with out that cut. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
has the same poetic heart and it needs the same poetic touch to really
make it work. I wish Terrence Malick was hired to cut the film anew. I
can't think of a better person to find the film Sam wanted to make.

SPOILERS (I guess). I like that Sam does not make too much out of the
killing of either Pat or Billy. The film is not really about that, it
is about a long funeral that precedes it.

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