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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 1:46 am 
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Question: is Lionel Stander the preacher in the beginning of The Wild Bunch?

That's Dub Taylor as Mayor Wainscoat leading the South Texas Temperance Union meeting. He quotes from Leviticus 10:9, and Proverbs 23:31-32:

Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou nor thy sons with thee least ye shall die. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red and when it bringeth his color in the cup when it moveth itself aright. At the last, it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder. Now folks, that's from the Good Book. But in this here town, it's 5 cents a glass. Five cents a glass. Does anyone really think that that is the price of a drink? The price of a drink - let him decide who has lost his courage and his pride who lies a groveling heap of clay not far removed...


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 12:31 am 
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zedz wrote:
Ste wrote:
Until just recently I would have agreed with your take on the Peckinpah Posse commentaries. But I have to say, for the most part the ones on the new boxed set just don't do it for me. Maybe they were recorded too close together or something, but they sound tired and uninspired to these ears.

Maybe I spoke too soon. I haven't got through the latest batch of commentaries yet (only High Country, which I thought was up to scratch). I suspect I'll part critical company with them on The Wild Bunch at least, as I find it well over-rated.

After two more Peckinpets commentaries, I'm starting to see what you guys mean. Their take on The Wild Bunch was pretty standard and, as noted above, I need a bit of convincing with this one. Still some interesting background detail, but the personal-history oneupmanship ("When I visited the location. . .") started to get irritating.

The Ballad of Cable Hogue - a cherishably bizarre film that I hadn't seen before - was a completely different kettle of fish. It was one of the first films where there seemed to be a distinct lack of consensus among the commentators about key aspects of the film, but this potentially profitable difference of opinion wasn't at all well-coordinated. Instead, they'd talk over one another then politely retreat without, it seemed to me, fully airing their different arguments / interpretations. Enjoyable enough, but I sensed there was a much more interesting discussion struggling to get out.

The Stella Stevens interview on the Hogue disc is a great extra. She's not a Peckinpah admirer, apparently, though she seems pleased enough with the end product. Very annoying amateur-arty photography and editing, however.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 12:47 am 
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zedz wrote:
... but the personal-history oneupmanship ("When I visited the location. . .") started to get irritating.

I still have to get through the last 20 minutes of the commentary track, but based on what I've heard so far, it sounded like they had all visited the locations together. I got the feeling that Warner sent them down there, or that they all travelled to Mexico together in order to visit the locations and have a common experience to discuss during the recoding session. I didn't hear too much competition between these men. I actually sounded like they admired one another's work and deferred to each others' opinions at various points throughout the track.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 12:53 am 
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Andre Jurieu wrote:
zedz wrote:
... but the personal-history oneupmanship ("When I visited the location. . .") started to get irritating.

I still have to get through the last 20 minutes of the commentary track, but based on what I've heard so far, it sounded like they had all visited the locations together. I got the feeling that Warner sent them down there, or that they all travelled to Mexico together in order to visit the locations and have a common experience to discuss during the recoding session. I didn't hear too much competition between these men. I actually sounded like they admired one another's work and deferred to each others' opinions at various points throughout the track.

It's more like they're trying to be the first one to relate the experience. The fact that the trip is documented as a featurette on the disc makes it all generally redundant anyway (not that redundancy among the extras on a major studio DVD is unusual), and watching the featurette before hearing the commentary probably didn't help!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 2:18 pm 
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The most interesting thing about these commentaries is the interpersonal relationships between the Posse members themselves:

Nick Redman is in love with Paul Seydor.

Paul Seydor is in love with himself. Definitely the Alpha Male of the group.

Garner Simmons and David Weddle: not much to choose between these two. Simmons is clearly the more intelligent (check out his 20-minute interview segment on the R2 Fremantle DVD of Straw Dogs), but both come off as rather too eager to please. They are like that kid at school who agrees with whomever he is talking to just to remain popular. The Cable Hogue commentary is a case in point, as Zedz rightfully points out.

The only real voice of dissent on the whole boxed set comes from David Weddle, who makes his preference for the Turner Preview Cut of PG&BTK known, but fails to back it up in any meaningful way. This is one gang that isn't about to let a good thing get ruined by something so trivial as open debate. As for the four-go-mad-in-Mexico stuff on the Wild Bunch DVD, it's kind of the audio commentary equivalent of watching your parents' holiday slides i.e. not very interesting to an outsider.

Rumour has it that Warner's was offered some wonderful extras by another well-respected Peckinpah documentarian, but was, allegedly, discouraged from taking up the offer by none other than Nick Redman himself. And what do we get in their place? Five - count 'em - FIVE badly shot, badly edited featurettes by...wait for it...Nick Redman! The Posse clearly isn't taking applications anytime soon.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:12 pm 
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Ste wrote:
Garner Simmons and David Weddle: not much to choose between these two. Simmons is clearly the more intelligent (check out his 20-minute interview segment on the R2 Fremantle DVD of Straw Dogs), but both come off as rather too eager to please. They are like that kid at school who agrees with whomever he is talking to just to remain popular.

"Exactly!"


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:24 pm 
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For those with more than a passing interest in Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, a lovely two-disc collectors' edition has just been released in Japan. You can read my thoughts, among others, over at the Home Theater Forum:

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htforum ... did=251016

Needless to say, it comes with the full recommendation of this Peckinpah nut!


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 11:31 pm 
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Thought I'd resurrect this and give my own take on the misogyny charge, because I don't think its been done justice to. I'm willing to let Struthers in THE GETAWAY slide -- I do think that the character is SO distasteful that she reveals something of what Peckinpah feels about women, but if other people don't agree, the point is moot; besides, why CAN'T someone caricature "women" at their lowest, now and then? I think a much stronger argument can be found for reading STRAW DOGS as misogynist, tho' -- and not just because of the central rape; the argument against this film I think is ultimately strong enough that it has implications for reading every other film he made. There is definitely a "she was asking for it" tendency to that scene -- and I think that male audience members are invited to feel an uncomfortable degree of sympathy for the (teased and tormented) rapists (which resonates against the sympathy shown Kristofferson in ALFREDO GARCIA, which scene also seems to contain Peckinpah's suggestion that a truly good woman will feel this sympathy and nurture and freely give love to her rapist, rather than fighting or just submitting) -- but another poster mentions that the progress of events in STRAW DOGS could be read as an illustration of just how devastating it can be once the line of consent is crossed, and I can't REALLY argue against that, either.

Still: I think the ENDING of the film requires that we be a little harsher to the film than some people are being. The young girl who leads the known pedophile played by David Warner into a private place is shown as "tempting fate" and playing in dangerous sexual realms, much as Susan George has been, suggesting this is in women's nature; given that there are only two main female characters in the whole damn movie, and both invite a sort of rape in parallel plots, Peckinpah DOES seem to be generalizing. And again, Warner, despite his sexual history and despite the fact that he kills the girl, is presented as an innocent victim of HER perversity, such that again we're put in a sympathy-for-the-rapist viewpoint; the men whom Dustin Hoffman is obliged to kill could also be seen as being victims of Susan George, who engineers the conflict; and, insofar as Dustin Hoffman is the one who rescues Warner and both are presented as fellow travellers at the end, both rendered spiritually "homeless" by the events of the film -- it SEEMS like Hoffman too is to be read as the innocent victim of female perversity, which forces men to compete with each other and constantly tempts them... This seems to be the thesis of the film, in fact, that the violence in male nature comes FROM women, is their fault -- it's a horrible way of presenting the female, and in that light, the rape scenes in STRAW DOGS start to seem just a little sadistic, a little like Peckinpah letting his own dark fantasies off the leash. Surely we feel invited to identify with the men during these scenes, not the woman? Susan George is constructed as so grotesque in the film that it doesn't seem like we're EVER supposed to identify with her, or see her as a victim. She's "getting what's coming to her," isn't she?

Or am I alone here? Don't other men feel revulsion and hatred at the Susan George character thoughout the film? She's presented so unsympathetically and grotesquely that I start to feel my own inner misogynist's blood begin to boil during her scenes (Shelly Duvall in THE SHINING does the same for me -- doesn't Kubrick seem to want us to be rooting for Jack to get her with the baseball bat?). I think the film incites hatred against women and sympathy towards men who are destroyed by their perversity; I have seen it more than a few times, and looked at it from every angle I could, and I can't see it any other way...

I have to admit loving BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA, tho' -- I also am delighted so many people say good things about it here.

A. (alienatedinvancouver.blogspot.com)


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 12:30 am 
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Thanks for the thoughtful post. I need to watch the film again, but, from memory, I find Susan George far more sympathetic in the film than Dustin Hoffmann. Peckinpah very aggressively forces us to Hoffmann's side during the climax of the film, but I find this a very uncomfortable experience, and it seems to me a deliberately uncomfortable one of the part of Peckinpah. It's a film that really tests received notions of audience identification and forces the viewer to question just what it is that is conditioning their responses.

I think this is also very much the point with the rape scene, which deliberately raises all of those messy "was she asking for it?" questions while dramatising the withdrawal of consent. I can't watch that scene from a single, static viewpoint (such as "she asked for it and she got it" or "this is non consensual sex and she's the victim"). To me, Peckinpah in that scene is really daring us to take a stand, and to interrogate the nature of the act we're viewing: "Is this consensual sex?" "Is this rape?" "No? OK, is it rape NOW?" "What about this?" "What's really changed here?"

Those tipping points between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour are a theme of the entire film. Does Hoffmann's sadism towards his wife (e.g. making her find the cat) arise from or provoke her behaviour? What's really motivating his defence of Warner?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 6:29 pm 
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pemmican wrote:
I think a much stronger argument can be found for reading STRAW DOGS as misogynist, tho' -- and not just because of the central rape... There is definitely a "she was asking for it" tendency to that scene -- and I think that male audience members are invited to feel an uncomfortable degree of sympathy for the (teased and tormented) rapists...

While I agree that Peckinpah does cast some fault upon Amy within the scene, I don't really think the audience is invited to feel sympathy for the rapists, no matter how much Susan has teased and tormented them. The real achievement of the scene is that the viewer has no real firm footing to make any solid moral judgment of (most of) the characters. I do believe Peckinpah is attempting to convey that Susan has been naive about the consequences of her previous actions. She does display a certain degree of arrogance in relation to the sexual power she holds over David, but at the same time he displays a similar arrogance regarding his own "intellect". While I agree that she has teased the crew of men throughout the film, I'm not really sure she has really tormented the crew. I would actually say she has attempted to torment David by teasing the crew.

The complexity of the scene has a great deal to do with the fact that the initial sexual act is between Susan and her former boyfriend, and stems from the fact that we understand they have a past sexual history with one another. It also feels as if their connection is much stronger (given that they presumably grew up together and that they appear more compatible) than the rather loose bond between David and Amy. Once he attacks her, it happens so gradually and almost casually - in stark contrast to how rape scenes are usually filmed (quick violence, loud screams, and cut-aways) - that we have to make moral decisions we are uncomfortable with. We know the scene probably logically constitutes rape, but the details start to get in the way.

However, once the second rapist appears, I doubt we are supposed to feel any sympathy for either male (or any male within the movie) that takes part in the rest of the scene. It's an overload that Peckinpah almost tortures our own morality with. Amy's previous actions might have provoked such actions, but I doubt we can say she deserved such abuse.

pemmican wrote:
(which resonates against the sympathy shown Kristofferson in ALFREDO GARCIA, which scene also seems to contain Peckinpah's suggestion that a truly good woman will feel this sympathy and nurture and freely give love to her rapist, rather than fighting or just submitting)

Again, I'm unsure that we are supposed to feel any sympathy towards Kristofferson's character. He's not around long enough for the viewer to sympathize with him, and he certainly isn't fleshed out a whole lot. I also don't believe Peckinpah is suggesting that Elita is a truly good woman. i remember being incredibly frustrated with her character once she allows Kristofferson to have his way with her. However in retrospect, it's a rather pathetic action and it's more of an expression of her indifference towards sex. She is resolved to allow this to happen, partially because (I believe, at least from what I remember) she has experience as a prostitute, and partially because her life has beaten her down into accepting her miserable position within the world. She isn't so much purposely nurturing towards this man as it's just another display of the type of life she knows.

pemmican wrote:
Still: I think the ENDING of the film requires that we be a little harsher to the film than some people are being. The young girl who leads the known pedophile played by David Warner into a private place is shown as "tempting fate" and playing in dangerous sexual realms, much as Susan George has been, suggesting this is in women's nature; given that there are only two main female characters in the whole damn movie, and both invite a sort of rape in parallel plots, Peckinpah DOES seem to be generalizing.

I agree that many viewers do let Peckinpah off the hook, and I agree that the scene involving Janice is shown to be "tempting fate" and playing in dangerous sexual realms. However, I think the point of the scene is also about youth attempting to adopt adult behavior without the necessary knowledge of the world that surrounds them. Again, I believe this has more to do with Peckinpah displaying how naive we can be towards the potential threat of violence. I believe Peckinpah is making his point using young women, but I doubt we can say he believes all women to be similar, considering Elita's sexual encounter is based around her world-weary viewpoint. In some ways it appears Amy and Janice's problems are a function of their naive nature, while Elita understands how to navigate through a cruel world because she is far more knowledgeable.

pemmican wrote:
And again, Warner, despite his sexual history and despite the fact that he kills the girl, is presented as an innocent victim of HER perversity, such that again we're put in a sympathy-for-the-rapist viewpoint;

Again, I don't believe there is a strong sense of sympathy created by the events Peckinpah exhibits. It just seems to be problems associated to circumstances. Henry (Is that his name?) is only considered innocent to a point, because he is incompetent and lacks the mental capacity to understand his own actions. In a sense, Janice dies because of her own curiosity, but it's not really her fault - again, she does not deserve her fate just because she is a teenager curious about sex. Similar to Amy, Janice simply makes the mistake of trusting that she can control the effects of her sexual power. The complexity is created from the fact that we know Henry is a sexual predator and shouldn't be able to roam free within this town given the fact that he cannot comprehend his own actions. Unfortunately, while we do know he killed Janice, we don't know conclusively if he deserves to be killed for his actions, given the fact he is mentally incompetent. David understands that Henry doesn't deserve the fate the town has chosen for him, while Amy cannot resolve the morality of protecting a rapist. The problem for the viewer is that we have no idea who is absolutely correct in this circumstance.

pemmican wrote:
the men whom Dustin Hoffman is obliged to kill could also be seen as being victims of Susan George, who engineers the conflict; and, insofar as Dustin Hoffman is the one who rescues Warner and both are presented as fellow travellers at the end, both rendered spiritually "homeless" by the events of the film -- it SEEMS like Hoffman too is to be read as the innocent victim of female perversity, which forces men to compete with each other and constantly tempts them. This seems to be the thesis of the film, in fact, that the violence in male nature comes FROM women, is their fault -- it's a horrible way of presenting the female, and in that light, the rape scenes in STRAW DOGS start to seem just a little sadistic, a little like Peckinpah letting his own dark fantasies off the leash.

We could read the film this way, but to a certain degree, the women are by-standards to the conflict between the men. The tension between David, the towns-folk, and Henry seems to be present even when the women are not around. There is certainly a conflict created simply out of social status and having a foreign presence in what one considers their "home". The violence seems to be present no matter what the spark is. It feels as if these men are waiting for an excuse to destroy one another.

I also think Peckinpah is being critical of this natural male tendency to find an excuse for violence. I don't believe he is saying this is the right action to take, but merely displaying the grotesque methods by which men justify their violence.

pemmican wrote:
Surely we feel invited to identify with the men during these scenes, not the woman? Susan George is constructed as so grotesque in the film that it doesn't seem like we're EVER supposed to identify with her, or see her as a victim. She's "getting what's coming to her," isn't she?

On this point I have to disagree. I don't believe Amy is constructed to lack any reason for our sympathy. The problem here seems to be that we are using the idea that we are supposed to sympathize with someone, just because it's our natural tendency to do so. I'm of the opinion that Peckinpah doesn't believe we are supposed to sympathize with one particular party at one point in time. Instead, I think he is constructing a scenario where our sympathy becomes useless and we are instead supposed to finally understand the scene from a distance.

pemmican wrote:
Or am I alone here? Don't other men feel revulsion and hatred at the Susan George character thoughout the film? She's presented so unsympathetically and grotesquely that I start to feel my own inner misogynist's blood begin to boil during her scenes (Shelly Duvall in THE SHINING does the same for me -- doesn't Kubrick seem to want us to be rooting for Jack to get her with the baseball bat?).

You're probably not alone on this, but I certainly didn't feel revulsion and hatred towards Amy throughout the film. I'll admit her behavior is annoying at times, but there are many times where I felt she was being treated unfairly by other parties (and not just in the rape scenes). Surely, David is a jerk towards Amy on more than one occasion. (I do agree with you on Shelley Duvall being nails-on-chalkboard annoying in The Shining).

pemmican wrote:
I think the film incites hatred against women and sympathy towards men who are destroyed by their perversity; I have seen it more than a few times, and looked at it from every angle I could, and I can't see it any other way...

I honestly think the normal conception of "sympathy" is rendered next to worthless in Straw Dogs. That's not to say that we cannot sympathize with different characters, but simply that our regular conception of sympathy at the movies is that it should all reside on one or two characters, so that morality is rendered overly simple. In Straw Dogs, Peckinpah pulls our sympathizes in so many directions that our regular concept/tendencies regarding sympathy should be re-examined so that we can get a better handle over our concept of morality in relation to how we use violence.


Last edited by Andre Jurieu on Thu Apr 20, 2006 12:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 1:20 am 
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The complexity of the scene has a great deal to do with the fact that the initial sexual act is between Susan and her former boyfriend, and stems from the fact that we understand they have a past sexual history with one another.

This is something most people seem to overlook. Peckinpah milks it for all the complexity it holds.

Now what gives it its ambiguities is the way that David and Charlie Venner's sexuality, and their sexual relationship with Amy, are juxtaposed. When Venner removes his shirt, Peckinpah inserts a shot of David doing the same, the angle and the motion exact replicas, as a parallel. The parallel is ironic, however, and depicts Amy's conflicted emotions during this scene. That earlier moment, as Stephen Prince aptly points out in his commentary, had David sexually frustrating his wife by delaying her satisfaction with pointless and childish brush offs, games (the clock), as a kind of emotional torture. We may take from this that he is not satisfying his wife, both sexually and as a figure of manhood (his ability to take command is relegated to trying to wrest control of sex by emotional games). By linking Venner's action with David's it suggests that, while this is still rape and Amy does not want it, Amy does confusedly discover that Venner embodies what she was not getting from David. However, to add further complexity, their climax is intercut with an act of meaningless violence: David shooting the birds. However Amy may seem to have accepted the act, it is still the product of violence, and the supposed moment of pleasure is linked with unpleasantness. This formal technique points to another meaning: Charlie's sexual violence is an equivalent to David's physical violence here. Violence is, in both forms, equally destructive, and David is no less violent and beastly than the rapists.

The scene combines the pain of rape, the complexity of a relationship with a previous lover, and a paradoxical sense of finding fulfillment and finding loss in the wrong places. I would suggest that Amy has little idea of what she is doing, but is reacting to very complex emotions--ambiguities shared by the audience. It is a difficult scene because it takes a strong, visceral idea we are used to understanding in black and white terms, and suggests many layers of complexities in the act that are not normally explored, and are not easily stomached.

However, Peckinpah does not suggest that rape is in any way deserved or enjoyable. The movie clearly manifests its sympathy for Amy; Peckinpah draws out her pain with the slow motion cuts to emphasize unpleasantness in Charlie's actions. The second rape functions as a finality to the judgement: it is rape devoid of the earlier complexities and I doubt anyone could point out that Peckinpah meant this act to be anything but awful. Note Charlie's reaction to it: he is confused, as it is not the same thing as what occurred earlier: it is brutal and violent to a degree beyond his actions. However, despite his confusion, he still holds her down, and is culpable in that action too--something he tries to make up for when he murders Scut in the end, remembering the earlier moment where Scut held the shotgun to him. Yet where in a more simple movie this would be a redemption signifying Charlie's newfound 'hero' status, it here earns him only the most sickening death in the movie; and our actual "hero" appears as cold blooded as any villain.

Also, take the crucial church festival. I don't have time to analyze it with the detail it deserves, but formally it demonstrates a sympathy with Amy by entering her point of view for the duration, using quick, jarring cuts and ominous framing of the minister and the actions on stage to give us a clear experience of the damage Amy has received. This scene in no way suggests that the movie feels Amy deserved what happened, nor that the movie is misogynist. Were it, the film would hardly take such time to demonstrate the effect of the rape with such complex editing and construction.

I fully believe that Amy is the most sympathetic character in the film. I do agree with Andre that many of her choices are questionable and even exasperating; yet I think it adds to her humanity by making her as troubled as everyone else in the situation. As much as it sounds like a cliche, she is human and makes the according mistakes. But her mistakes are frankly small next to what is perpetrated by the men around her, and I think she comes off looking pretty well by comparison. Certainly one cannot be sympathetic with David at the end when he leaves her with some disgust after she has just performed the violent act he was begging of her, saving his life. She deserves better than what he gives her.


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You guys see the film so remarkably DIFFERENTLY from me that I'm tempted to give it another look... but it really does seem to me, from my current vantage point, that you're trying very hard to sweep some very troubling things under th' proverbial carpet.

A.


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pemmican wrote:
but it really does seem to me, from my current vantage point, that you're trying very hard to sweep some very troubling things under th' proverbial carpet.

It seems to me that everyone in the last few posts is dealing with everything quite plainly, the only difference is that some are allowing the troubling aspects to remain out in the open as troubling aspects, whereas you seem more anxious to label the troubling aspects as this or that so they can be more simply understood and thus rendered less troubling. And I don't intend that as a criticism, I expect it's a common and normal reaction to this film.

I can't add much to Andre's post above, except that I wanted to comment on this:

pemmican wrote:
There is definitely a "she was asking for it" tendency to that scene -- and I think that male audience members are invited to feel an uncomfortable degree of sympathy for the (teased and tormented) rapists

I agree, and I think that is precisely the point. What makes the male audience members so innocent? If the audience accepts the invitation to sympathize with the rapists, that says far more about the audience than it does about Peckinpah or his characters. To my view (which is mostly in sync with Andre's) this fits in with Peckinpah's larger purpose in Straw Dogs, which is to systematically tear the audience's sympathies to shreds in order to make them question their own sense of morality and draw their primal instincts out into the open. If someone truly finds rape offensive, they should be offended by it regardless of how it is portrayed. If a viewer finds that their sympathies are starting to lean towards the rapists, I would hope that once they are done questioning the director's moral resolve they will start questioning their own.


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Allright, well, I guess I have to pursue this a little. Zedz writes:

Quote:
I can't watch that scene from a single, static viewpoint (such as "she asked for it and she got it" or "this is non consensual sex and she's the victim"). To me, Peckinpah in that scene is really daring us to take a stand, and to interrogate the nature of the act we're viewing: "Is this consensual sex?" "Is this rape?" "No? OK, is it rape NOW?" "What about this?" "What's really changed here?"

Andre adds:

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Once he attacks her, it happens so gradually and almost casually - in stark contrast to how rape scenes are usually filmed (quick violence, loud screams, and cut-aways) - that we have to make moral decisions we are uncomfortable with. We know the scene probably logically constitutes rape, but the details start to get in the way.

Mr Sausage:

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It is a difficult scene because it takes a strong, visceral idea we are used to understanding in black and white terms, and suggests many layers of complexities in the act that are not normally explored, and are not easily stomached.

These seem like basically the same point, framed slightly differently, and I buy all this, actually, but still find the need to interrogate rape in this way morally suspect. Certainly we do this – during rape trials, for example, the issue of consent is indeed a “normally exploredâ€


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 1:08 pm 
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pemmican wrote:
I'm not sure I'll emerge feeling kinder about it, but I'd like to hear the commentary track -- I confess that I haven't, yet!

Didn't think so! The majority of your questions are answered therein by Stephen Prince. You might not agree with him, but at least you will have the alternate point of view that Andre et al have been trying to put across.

Prince's commentary for Straw Dogs is the finest such track I've ever heard. (Don't listen to the Peckinpets - they are idiots.) If you wish to delve even deeper into Prince's reasoning, I can strongly recommend his book, Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultra-violent Movies.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:43 pm 
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and I'm really not sure I need to see the question of women's complicity in rape raised and lived through in art at quite this level of detail. Peckinpah is seriously asking whether women sometimes ask for rape; of all the questions one could ask about rape, why is he tabling these? Does it not reveal ANYTHING about his feelings about women?

Well whether you "need" to see anything is hardly the point. I'm not entirely sure it is about the amount of complicity in rape as a general statement. In fact, I wonder if there is anything in that scene that can be taken as any sort of general philosophy on the matter. It is very particular and peculiar, tied to the specifics of character and situation.

As to what Peckinpah felt in his heart towards women, I am not concerned. The films are what interest me, not making the director's deepest emotions my private peep show.

[quote]Mr. Sausage writes about it as if the film is “disapproving of male violence, but SURELY one of the points the film does make is that SOMETIMES A MAN'S GOTTA FIGHT? David IS justified at the end of the film, no? He is more of a “real man…?â€


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 5:06 pm 
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Sorry for the length (and I have no idea why the font gets bigger out of nowhere)...

pemmican wrote:
... but it really does seem to me, from my current vantage point, that you're trying very hard to sweep some very troubling things under th' proverbial carpet.

I'm not sure how you are reaching this conclusion, especially given Mr. Sausages thorough analysis of the shots and editing techniques that Peckinpah uses within certain scenes. This is at least backing his interpretation with visual evidence and I feel makes a strong argument (at least better than mine, since I haven't watched the film since 2004) for a more complex perspective to be applied to Peckinpah's filmmaking.

Quite honestly, I don't buy that anyone has a proper picture of Peckinpah's viewpoints regarding violence and sexuality. I'm not going to conclusively label Peckinpah as a misogynist with any degree of certainly (though I very much doubt that he "hated women"), and I'm certainly not going to brush aside the criticism that his films contain troubling elements of human interaction. I will state with conviction that his method of filmmaking presents these troubling elements in a far more complex way than many/most other filmmakers.

pemmican wrote:
... but I still find the need to interrogate rape in this way morally suspect.

Why exactly is this morally suspect? Unless you walk in thinking that Peckinpah has blamed the woman for what has happened, I believe this to as valid a scenario to construct and analyze as any other. While I do believe Peckinpah has shown Amy to have taken actions that make her more vulnerable to these actions, in no way do I think he is stating it is conclusively her own fault for what has happened to her.

[quote="pemmican"]Certainly we do this – during rape trials, for example, the issue of consent is indeed a “normally exploredâ€


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 1:49 am 
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Do you ever get a weary feeling, when someone takes you up at length on something you've written on a forum, and think, "Oh, Christ, now I have to read it and respond?"

Clearly I need to look at STRAW DOGS again and consider it at some length before I can say a lot more about it -- it's been a long time since I wrote it off, and perhaps I do have prejudices to overcome: your arguments do have me interested in reconsidering it.

Somehow I think that there is going to remain an irreconcilable gap between us, tho'. Mr. Sausage's claim that the film "is very particular and peculiar, tied to the specifics of character and situation" seems to open an immense void -- because I see the film as making very definite inquiries into male and female relations, with the characters standing for much more than themselves; even if we disagree as to what the questions and conclusions are, it seems hardly meant to be only about David, Amy, and so forth -- these characters seem OBVIOUSLY to me to be stand-ins for aspects of male and female identity/behaviour that Peckinpah is trying to interrogate, so much so that it seems bizarre to me that anyone can feel otherwise -- to view ANY film as being "ONLY" about its characters seems to me akin to watching it with a bag over your head. You write, "Nor do I think it is wholly useful to try to pin any general ideological or philosophical points from this movie. It does not seem discursive." So you're saying Peckinpah is saying nothing about men, women, sex, and violence in this film -- he's ONLY posing questions, not making statements, or at least hinting at OPINIONS? Is this something people on this board generally agree with? Because Peckinpah strikes me as a man of very strong opinions and passions, which seem to drive his cinema.

Ditto with your summing up the film as saying "the violence accomplishes nothing, and so is hardly justified... I don't know if I think David is justified; frankly by this point things have gotten so out of hand that he has little other choice." You seem to forget that the whole film is CRAFTED to place David in this position -- to push the mild, wimpy, repressed and cerebral David into fighting back -- such that at least one thing the film seems to be "about" is showing that "sometimes you have to fight." And if he has no choice, he is therefore justified, isn't he?

But we see the film differently, again in ways that I don't think we can bridge. You find it disgusting that David at the end feels he has "proved his manhood" and can thus slap his wife around; but honestly, I've always assumed Peckinpah to be SIDING with David in that slap, and wanting his audience to join him... Your revulsion with David is, in me, carrying over to a revulsion with the filmmaker that I believe is "standing behind" him, acting through him; I see this as a movie ABOUT "proving your manhood..." Maybe I'm oversimplifying, tho' -- you all seem to claim so, but until I look at the film again, I can only say "Maybe."

Re: Andre, I can't respond to your claims that all the characters are compromised and that Peckinpah doesn't play favourites here; clearly if we read the film that way, it becomes far more morally complex and intelligent than I'm giving it credit for being. I can't speak to any of this at this point. I will address one thing: you don't seem to understand me on the point about there being certain questions that I think don't really need to be seriously considered, in art or elsewhere. I want to cut this short, so pardon me for being a bit glib -- you'll have to work with me on this, because I'm just trying to show you how I'm thinking, without really meaning to make a statement about STRAW DOGS here: but a question along the lines of "Do women sometimes deserve to be raped?" is sort of on par with "Did the Holocaust really happen" and "are blacks mentally inferior to whites" as being unworthy of serious consideration, and hardly a place to begin an HONEST inquiry into anything. The conclusions are foregone; if someone starts from that point, they're going to end up ending at that point, and the film will just be an exercise in self-vindication of their prejudices... I'm hardly positing THE ACCUSED as an alternative, tho'; it is also not an honest inquiry, and in fact is completely negligible trash, regardless of (perhaps because of) its transparently morally laudable intentions... Certainly STRAW DOGS is the more significant and worthwhile film, and the one we can learn more from.

But enough-- I can't say anymore until I rewatch the film and think about it. Thanks for your earnest efforts to convince me that it's not ultimately fascist, anti-female bullshit. I reserve the right to retain that opinion, tho'.

A.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 1:20 pm 
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Quote:
Somehow I think that there is going to remain an irreconcilable gap between us, tho'. Mr. Sausage's claim that the film "is very particular and peculiar, tied to the specifics of character and situation" seems to open an immense void -- because I see the film as making very definite inquiries into male and female relations, with the characters standing for much more than themselves; even if we disagree as to what the questions and conclusions are, it seems hardly meant to be only about David, Amy, and so forth -- these characters seem OBVIOUSLY to me to be stand-ins for aspects of male and female identity/behaviour that Peckinpah is trying to interrogate, so much so that it seems bizarre to me that anyone can feel otherwise -- to view ANY film as being "ONLY" about its characters seems to me akin to watching it with a bag over your head.


I never said "the film" is very particular and peculiar, as that would apply to any unique film, and so is irrelevant. I said the emotions concerning that first rape are very particular and peculiar and finding a general philosophy in them is problematic.

If they are so "obviously" standins for the director can you provide some evidence, some aesthetic or formal proof, or even any analysis to back this up? You just keep repeating your thesis over and over without taking one moment to prove that any of this is true. I cannot find a single piece of evidence anywhere that David is meant to be “Peckinpah,â€


Last edited by Mr Sausage on Fri Apr 21, 2006 8:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 5:26 pm 
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I have ordered the Criterion edition online and will post back in a couple of weeks, when I've had time to watch it and consider. I will also attend a seance and see if I can get the spirit of Pauline Kael to back me up.

A.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 5:54 pm 
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pemmican wrote:
I will also attend a seance and see if I can get the spirit of Pauline Kael to back me up.

Sorry, but at this time Ms. Kael can only make a brief appearence.

Pauline Kael wrote:
Dustin Hoffman plays a weakling mathematician who finds his manhood when he learns to kill to protect his home, and Susan George is his snarling, pouty wife--a little beast who wants to be made submissive. Machismo, sold under the (then) fashionable guise of the territorial imperative, and directed by Sam Peckinpah in a way that apparently affects many men at a very deep, fantasy level. Probably one of the key films of the 70s. Its vision is narrow and puny; Peckinpah sacrifices the flow and spontaneity and the euphoria spaciousness that have made him a legend--but not the savagery. The only beauty he allows himself is in eroticism and violence, which he links by an extraordinary aestheticizing technique. When the wife is raped, the rape has heat to it and what goes into that heat is the old male barroom attitude: she's asking for it.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 6:22 pm 
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Monty Python does Peckinpah:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6RC70RG ... lad%20Days

Does anyone have the SNL where they spoofed Peckinpah (with John Belushi as Peckinpah) as well?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 7:59 pm 
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Kinjitsu -

Thanks, but what about the famous quote where she calls it "the first American film that is a fascist work of art?" (I think she promptly went on to call Dirty Harry fascist, too).

A.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 8:24 pm 
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pemmican wrote:
Thanks, but what about the famous quote where she calls it "the first American film that is a fascist work of art?" (I think she promptly went on to call Dirty Harry fascist, too).

Sorry, but my Kael book of full reviews (Reeling) went the way of divorce and was never replaced, hence the brief one quoted above, however, Peckinpah was quick to respond. I don't know that she used the word fascist to describe Dirty Harry, but she did call it a "right-wing fantasy." :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 8:48 pm 
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My well-worn copy of For Keeps: 30 Years At The Movies has Kael writing this about Dirty Harry from the original New Yorker 1972 review:

"Dirty Harry is obviously just a genre movie, but this action genre has always had a fascist potential, and it has finally surfaced. . . . (it) is a deeply immoral movie."

As far as Straw Dogs goes, her original review says this:

"What I am saying, I fear, is that Sam Peckinpah, who is an artist, has, with Straw Dogs, made the first American film that is a fascist work of art. . . . I realize it's a terrible thing to say of someone whose gifts you admire that he has made a fascist classic. And in some ways Peckinpah's attitudes are not that different from those of Norman Mailer, who is also afflicted with machismo. But Mailer isn't so single-minded about it: he worries it and pokes at it and tries to dig into it. Despite Peckinpah's artistry, there's something basically grim and crude in Straw Dogs."

My interpretation of the film runs a little closer to Stephen Prince's commentary on the CC edition, but Kael is always thought-provoking and often convincing.


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