Sunday, June 07, 2009
1971 - Straw Dogs
I saw Straw Dogs a couple of years ago. I have really only seen Dustin Hoffman films from the 80's on, so it was a little jarring seeing him in a non comedic role. The film is so nervewracking in the building up of the tension almost from the first frame. You know a trainwreck is coming but you can't turn away.
David (Dustin Hoffman), a young American professor, moves to a house in the English countryside with his young wife Amy (Susan George). One of the major reasons that they moved to England was fear of violence in the United States related to the civil rights movement. Unfortunately, they find their new home to be far worse when the local hooligans set their eyes on Amy and take a strong disliking to the rather meek David. The threat of physical violence becomes reality when Amy is raped and David finds himself in the middle of a serious local dispute. David is forced to either find some courage quickly, or turn tail and flee.
"You have to understand, first of all, that the movie ends with maybe 20 minutes of unrestrained bloodletting, during which people are scalded with boiling whisky, have their feet blown off by shotguns, are clubbed to death and (in one case) nearly decapitated by a bear trap. The violence is the movie's reason for existing; it is the element that is being sold, and in today's movie market, It should sell well. But does Peckinpah pay his dues before the last 20 minutes? Does he keep us feeling we can trust him? I don't think so.
The most offensive thing about the movie is its hypocrisy; it is totally committed to the pornography of violence, but lays on the moral outrage with a shovel. The perfect criticism of "Straw Dogs" already has been made. It is "The Wild Bunch." - Roger Ebert