14 July 2012 | giggitygiggitygoo451
An Extremely Important And Ground-breaking American Film.
Whether you love or hate it, Bonnie and Clyde was, and remains to this day, a ground-breaking film in the history of American cinema, and should be praised hugely for that alone. Aside from the re-defining techniques of showing violence on-screen and the depiction of main characters who are far from typical heroes, it contains career-boosting roles for many actors, and comes from a very talented director of the time, Arthur Penn.
The story follows the titular real-life bandit couple of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. The story traces them from first meeting, and follows their crime-spree throughout a Depression-era America with their gang, robbing banks, evading police and creating a notorious reputation for themselves. The film is slightly romanticised, depicting the couple as young, foolish kids who don't really seem to realise what they're getting into, but the violent and unpredictable undertone and the impressive period detail ensures an edge that lifts it above typical gangster movies, and always assures us that what's happening isn't remotely romantic, while granting the characters and events gritty depth.
Penn is on fine form from the beginning, and handles a range of different scenes with ease and a huge amount of skill, from thrilling banks-robberies and shootouts, to the more intimate character scenes, in particular those between Bonnie and Clyde, which depict one of the most interesting and unusual screen couples to date. The cinematography and editing are used to huge effect, and resulted in some of the most ground-breaking scenes of the 60's, while the folk-style soundtrack gives an air of humour.
The film tends to play a bit fast-and-loose with the facts- like condensing several real-life members of the gang into the single character C.W. Moss, and neglecting the fact that for nearly a year, Bonnie was almost unable to walk due to a car crash, but writers David Newman and Robert Benton can be forgiven for these inaccuracies considering they succeeded in crafting a story that is both thrilling and exciting as well as tragic and thought-provoking.
But the story would be nothing without first-rate cast it boasts. Warren Beatty as Clyde excels in the multi-layered, dramatic role that he had sought after for so long, and more than succeeded in his attempt to be taken seriously as an actor. Beatty's depiction of a confident, intelligent, but naive young man looking to make his name and fortune is spot-on, and while romanticised to a certain degree, is never glorified. His Clyde is more than matched by Faye Dunaway's Bonnie, who gives a hugely convincing portrayal of an everyday girl getting caught up in something she should never have become part of. The two have an excellent and very unusual chemistry, even by today's standards, and work together brilliantly as a man not used to such intimacy and a woman desperate to live the romantic life of an outlaw with him.
The supporting players may not be quite as strong as the leads, but hold their own quite well, particularly Gene Hackman as Buck. In my opinion one of the greatest actors of all time, Hackman gives a brilliant performance that's both spirited and grounded as Clyde's brother, expressing the same wide-eyed desire for the life of an outlaw as the others and maintains a hugely convincing brotherly relationship with Beatty throughout. Michael Pollard also performs well as gang member C.W, whose quiet demeanour assures his character stands out, despite being relatively small. Estelle Parsons suffers with Blanche, a supremely annoying character that personally I found too irritating. But in fairness, that's precisely the intention behind the character, and Parsons certainly manages to convey it. Throw in one of Gene Wilder's first screen performances and you have an extremely talented and interesting cast.
But aside from the great cast and direction, the truly ground-breaking, incredibly influential aspect of the film is much simpler and much more important- the depiction of on-screen violence and the impact it makes. For the first time, when people were shot or killed, it looked like it hurt. Bad. Penn and his crew pushed boundaries that before, hadn't even been considered. Suddenly, violence was being portrayed in a gritty, shocking and unsettling way. For the first time, screen violence was truly violent. This is what made the story of a group of young and naive people deciding to become criminals so powerful- the fact that we really saw what that really meant. We see what it's like to be shot, and this helps to drive home their story with such impact and power. This was the first step taken that shaped the entire future of motion-picture, and inspired other films to follow it's example, such as The Wild Bunch, and later films like MASH and Jaws that continued to push the limits of what could be done on screen.
Now, I am definitely NOT a fan of gore or extreme violence. Give me E.T and Toy Story before all the Saws and Texas Chainsaw Massacres in the world. But that doesn't mean violence in films is wrong. Violence can be a means of driving home a point, or setting a film's atmosphere, or at times it can even just be pretty damn satisfying. But whether you're a pacifist or a gore-hound, it can't be denied that violence in films is prominent, and many times it's done well, while other times it's not. This film revolutionised it. And more than that, it gave film-makers the influence to do other new things, and was the perfect film to kick-start the revolutionary era of the late 60's and 70's, and inspired them to use their own ideas rather than what would make money.
This is a very special film. Personally, not one of my favourites, but it deserves a good 8 out of 10 purely for its historical relevance and powerhouse cast. It may not be perfect, but if you haven't seen it, see it, and know that you're watching history being made.