Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Wild bunch blog

My topsy turvey body clock is taking days to settle down. Last nigght, Wednesday I went to bed and sleep early evening for two and half hours but could only stay up for the first hour of the cricket then going to bed and sleeping for a couple more hours at that. I came down and caught up with the live cricket before realising I was drifting off and generally in an uncomfortable state so I returned to bed with the radio and spent the rest of night from around 3am until 7.30am continued to drift in and out of sleep catching odd moment in the live radio commentary. However it is 4 30 pm today and so far the head remains clear although enthusiasm for work has been limited. I have ventured out to pay in two small cheques at the bank and for some colour cartridge ink as well as post an important letter. It is bitter cold again and starting to sleet but his did not continue.

I did see The Wild Bunch again over the holiday, a Sam Peckinpath film which stands out among the top Western genre and which features William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O’Brien and Warren Oats among others. The film remains controversial for the amount of bloody killing and portrayal of men willing to do anything to survive.

The bloodshed and action continues from start to finish with brief interludes. A small gang led by William Holden, former military men, have become outlaws and raid a railroad office because there is said to be silver there. In fact it is steel washers. They are ambushed by Robert Ryan, released from prison, to track down his former associates and together with others deputised by the railroad company there is a shoot out where several men are killed as well as townsfolk bystanders.

Holden takes his remaining men across the border into Mexico and to the town of one his group, a Mexican. The town is the HQ for an army general who is the kind of bandit warlord known to control much of Afghanistan. Holden does a deal with the general to steal USA weapons across the border known to be travelling by train. This mission is also bloody but successful. They continue to be pursued by Robert Ryan and his posse.

The mission would have ended successfully if the Mexican member had not found that his former girlfriend was not one of the General’s women. It is quickly evident that the local women are willing to offer sex for money and the men enjoy sexual adventures before embarking on each gun fight.

The Mexican tackles the girl and the General about their relationship and this is laughed off. However not long after the Mexican is taken prisoner and tortured near to death while Holden and the other gang members first decide there is nothing they can do except take the money and run. However they relent and ask for the release of their colleague. This is agreed but with his throat cut. This results in the bloodiest of battles in which dozen of not hundreds die. Only Holden survives the carnage.

The reason why the Mexican is taken prisoner is that he had had used a small part of the weapons’ cache to arm his townsfolk who are tired of being at the mercy of the General. The local revolutionaries kill the surviving members of Ryan’s posse who are returning without him, but with the bodies of all the other gang members to claim the reward. So just about everyone dies including many villagers, including the women, the General’s men, the posse and the gang. The film ends with Ryan and Holden riding off together.

There are no good men or women in this film, something which offended at the time of its release and still does certain sections of society on both dies of the North Atlantic. Even when one of their number of captured and tortured they are willing to turn away because of the odds. The irony is that it is only after they have been paid for stealing and turning over the weapons do they have a crisis of conscience about leaving their Mexican member behind. Life is cheap including their own and there is no sense of guilt or need to atone for all the slaughtering. That the two leaders survive also offended many. This contrasts with the other William Holden film experienced again, The Bridges of Toko Ri.

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