04-04-2011

33 MIFF presents: Sam Peckinpah

33 MIFF presents: Sam Peckinpah


Kathryn Bigelow and Michael Mann, Takeshi Kitano and Park Chan-wook acknowledge his influence, though he stays one of the most disputable filmmakers in history. Sam Peckinpah began his feature career in 1961. The Deadly Companions, Ride the High Country, Major Dundee, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid distinguished him as innovator in the old western genre,dismantling the great America myth and depicting anti-heroes - loners and outsiders facing obsolescence, betrayal and death. Since the time he shot western epic The Wild Bunch in 1968, which was seen as a metaphor of intervention in Vietnam, Sam Peckinpah became a notorious legend with the nick Bloody (or Mad) Sam. This one of the most controversial movie of the period alongside with Stanley Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange and Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde, disclaimed for their naturalistic ultra-violence marked the helmer as a ‘counter-studio’ director. The latter implied that Peckinpah joined the row of respected losers like Orson Welles, whose works underwent brutal truncation. He battled producers, ruining his reputation in Hollywood and as a result managed to shoot just a dozen of movies for theatre distribution. Straw Dogs (1971) with Dustin Hoffman evoked still more controversy and deprived many of his advocates of their reason: Peckinpah was accused of over-exploitation of violence as the element to be sold in movie market; the feminists gang up on him for sexism and machism…


Peckinpah tried his innovation in various genres; in his war movie Cross of Iron (1977) he delivered a powerful antiwar message in depicting two philosophically opposed German officers on the Eastern front in World War II.


Though Peckinpah underwent a heart attack in 1979, he never stopped working and entered music video with two clips for Julian Lennon and was preparing a Stephen King adaptation when he suffered a fatal heart attack in 1984.


Unfortunately the actual value of his work was overshadowed by debates about the limits of screen violence whereas its technological and moral subtleties were neglected.


In the course of time his creation has been reconsidered. Now they say there would be no Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez or John Woo without Sam Peckinpah. Last year producer Al Ruddy (The Godfather, Million Dollar Baby) put into development the script The Texans written by Peckinpah more than 20 years ago. And in 2011 the launch of two Peckinpah’s remakes was announced, that is a spy thriller The Osterman Weekend and Straw Dogs. And, as the star of the latter Kate Bosworth mentioned, “Of course there will be controversy, I can't see how there wouldn't be with a remake of 'Straw Dogs'!”

List of films would be announced later.