Showing posts with label 1972. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1972. Show all posts

Tuesday, 9 July 2013


Nominated for three Academy Awards, 1972’s Deliverance is an influential thriller set along the Chattooga River in Georgia. For men from Atlanta set off into the wilderness to take a canoe trip down a portion of river which is soon to be hundreds of feet below a newly dammed lake. Their trip takes a decidedly and unexpectedly dangerous turn when some of the locals take a disliking to the party. Famous for a distressing scene of rape, the movie is much harder than I expected and must have rattled censors forty years ago. As well as the distress caused by these and other scenes, there is also great beauty to be found in the landscape and it’s captured wonderfully by Director John Boorman.

The movie features what we’d consider today to be an all-star cast with Hollywood heavyweights Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds leading the cast. Ned Beatty makes his screen debut alongside Ronny Cox, also a first time screen actor here. The acting is great throughout and the characters are well defined from the start. From the very first scene the audience is made aware of exactly who is who and what their main traits are. This helps to get the film off to a good start as well as easing the audience in.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Boxcar Bertha

Martin Scorsese’s second picture and the second in my Scorsese in Sequence feature is Boxcar Bertha. Bertha Thompson (Barbara Hershey) is a young woman whose father dies in an aircraft accident. With no money and no home she travels around the Depression hit South aboard railway boxcars. Along the way she meets ‘Big’ Bill Shelly (David Carradine), a Union Man and suspected Communist. The two of them begin a relationship and along with Yankee, Rake Brown (Barry Primus) and ‘negro’, Von Morton (Bernie Casey) take to robbing trains as a means of surviving.

This is unlike most other Scorsese films. It is the only one to feature a woman in the central role and one of only a handful set outside of the East Coast. As a result it feels amongst the least Scorsese-esque of his films. The direction is fairly straightforward. There are no trademark long tracking shots, very little popular music and cutting is slow and traditional. One area in which Scorsese does stick to type is with Bertha’s moral ambiguity. At the beginning she is a sweet young girl but towards the end she is a woman who will do anything it takes to survive and appears to enjoy the wilder side of life. The film also contains Scorsese’s trademark violence, especially in an unexpectedly brutal final scene.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Aguirre, the Wrath of God

"I am the great traitor. There must be no other"

Werner Herzog’s 1972 Adventure-Drama stars his regular collaborator, Klaus Kinski in the role of Spanish soldier Lope de Aguirre who in 1561 while on an expedition in search of the mythical El Dorado, mutinied and took control of the expedition after which time all involved lost their lives, either at the hands of natives or of starvation. Though based on fact and on the life of a real man, much of the story is a fabrication and is only loosely based on real events.

The film’s central themes of lust for power and riches as well as madness and delusion are fully explored in this sparse and bleak film. Kinski can be seen delving deeper and deeper into a frenetic, maddened state as his followers become more disillusioned and his situation becomes more desperate. It is shot in such a way that it often feels like a documentary. There is very little dialogue, plenty of beautiful shots of the Amazon and its surrounding jungle and many of the characters look directly down the camera lens as though they are talking directly to the audience. 

Klaus Kinski in the central role is superbly menacing but understated. In fact the entire film is understated and eerily calm. No fuss is made about a death or even an explosion. It is as if the cast treated these incidents as though they were happening to someone else. Everything feels distant.

While I enjoyed the film, it is not something I would recommend to most people. It is extremely slow and will not be to most people’s tastes. It also suffers from an unfortunate dubbing problem. It was filmed in English as that was the only common language of the cast, but then dubbed into German. As a result, the dialogue never matches up to the audio.

Unfortunately for the film as with so many of Herzog’s Feature Films, the story behind the making of the film is more interesting than the actual film. You can really see the effort that went into making it. Every inch of inhospitable jungle that the cast and crew trekked was real and there are stories of Herzog directing Kinski with a gun to his head and of Kinski, in a rage, shooting off the finger of an extra. Many of the problems that the production faced were actually incorporated into the film!
Herzog’s ability to capture a madman on the precipice is unmatched and he has done it time and time again. This is one of his best examples of that. Aguirre has been placed on many ‘Top Film’ lists and while I didn’t like it enough for that it will be a treat for any Herzog fan and the sort of film that people should try if they are feeling on the adventurous side.   


Click for reviews of the great Herzog documentaries; Grizzly Man, Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Into the Abyss.