30 October 2010
After a good talk about helplessness with a friend, I thought maybe Straw Dogs would give me some insight into a slow-build, trapped-in-a-house kind of story. While it didn't -- it's much more concerned with mankind's violent nature and the tendency to deny such things -- it's still a great film to watch. So much tension, and such a slow build! From the very beginning things are begging to fall apart, but Pekinpah isn't going to release any of it for a while. He's going to ratchet things so tight that no element of the story won't snap in the insane, masterful climax.
A lot is made of Amy enjoying the rape, and it's not that I can't see why a lot would (maybe should... maybe) be made of it, but it's also one of the boldest, truest-to-character moments in the story. Her acceptance of her rape, and even her embracing of her former beau/rapist, is a conflicted scene for everyone involved, not least the rapist himself. It's an emotionally telling scene, it's Amy's true nature coming out -- and her relationship to Chris (the rapist) makes it just as akin to date-rape as violent-rape, even though he's holding her down and barking threats at her. But then, true to the themes and true to her character, she is betrayed by her own attempts to find the kind of warmth and attraction that David no longer (if ever?) has for her, when Chris grudgingly holds her down and allows his monstrous friend to have a go at her.
I read in an interview with Pekinpah that he asks critics who call him a woman-hater for this film to watch Bring Me The Head Of Alfred Garcia before passing any final judgments, because he feels that there shows that he ultimately loves women; that in Bring Me The Head they represent the "good pole." I love Straw Dogs, and although I don't think I find it nearly as uncomfortable or unsettling as a lot of people, it's still not an easy watch or one that I need to watch too often. But I'm an even bigger fan of Bring Me The Head, and had never considered it in the light of a counterpoint to this before. Something to mull over, when next I see it.
(On that note: I must hang my head in shame and confess that I've never seen The Wild Bunch in its entirety... something I'm eager to rectify, one of these days.)