a brilliant film. some brilliant films are striking while you are watching them (graduate) and others take a while to settle in (taste of cherry). this film has a bit of both. the wonderfully edited action sequences (the famous opening, the bridge scene and the finale) demand your attention and wonderment. while everything in between – the pensive moments between the men, the shots of mexican villages and villagers, etc. pay dividends after the film is over.
these slow moments, which add to the long runtime, may not seem necessary while you’re watching the film, but when you look back on the film, and are able to separate yourself from the minutes of nothing happening, you realize how important those seemingly meaningless scenes actually are. the wild bunch is like the good, the bad and the ugly in this way (and others). when i watch each film i sometimes find myself bored and the first reaction to that is that the film isn’t engaging or is less of a film as a result. really, though, these ebbs between the action make said action more impactful. additionally, these slower portions are what keeps the film together. there’s a lot of meat between the action and it takes a while, several viewings, to digest it all. for example, it’s called the wild bunch, but there’s a lot of the film that isn’t about the wild bunch. a lot of it is about the landscape. whether that’s the western milieu, or the mexican civil war, or peasant life…there’s a lot to chew on.
one reason i think the film resonates with so many people is, for all its wild shoot-outs, it is, like ride the high country, a pretty realistic film. it’s got a gritty look, a cinema verite look at the townspeople and landscape, it’s not shy in portraying these ugly men and all their imperfections (physical [think of the sauna scene] and moral), etc. of course peckinpah contrasts these gritty realities with moral ideals (stand by your man) and some kick ass action scenes. the opening sequence is fucking brilliant from top to bottom. very reminiscent of the goosebumps that i get from watching the final half hour of the good, the bad and the ugly. which brings me to the music….fielding does a superb job throughout. it’s not morricone, but it’s still spot on, inspiring and complementary.Watched in theater