Pat Garrett is hired as a lawman on behalf of a group of wealthy New Mexico cattle barons to bring down his old friend Billy the Kid.Pat Garrett is hired as a lawman on behalf of a group of wealthy New Mexico cattle barons to bring down his old friend Billy the Kid.Pat Garrett is hired as a lawman on behalf of a group of wealthy New Mexico cattle barons to bring down his old friend Billy the Kid.
This is a failure of a movie. It is incoherent, especially in the sense it was originally intended to deliver: as a member of the friend turned hunter genre. It has KristofFerson more inappropriately cast than usual. Its designated watcher Bob Dylan, was ineffective. It lacks any of the binding features of a long form work.
This is a success of a movie. It is broken in just the same way its characters are. Their lives make no sense other than as a container for confidence. This is am aimlessly wandering film about aimlessly wandering souls and the minor folks the collect in different ways. It sags in places because you can see that there is no purpose. But it has moments of such pure brilliance that you have to wonder about the miracle of Zen acceptance. The photography, any scene with Coburn and the score are in such harmony they seem to have been created together all the way from the edge of time.
The really vexing thing is Dylan. This was during one of his creative valleys, and probably his worst period. The music is meditative but hardly sharp. Its aimless and pastel. He looks dull. Supposedly this was during a heroin addiction and his association with great musicians that were lost (like George Harrison). He by himself in his better days could have snapped this film into importance merely by actually watching, by being in it truly. He's not there.
Some of the episodes you will never forget. I count three small masterpieces. One lasts less than 60 seconds and involves a family floating down a small river. Coburn and the apparently mad father point rifles at each other and then in apparent recognition of the other's meanness, put them down, while children expectantly cower.
A second is the much mentioned sequence where a sheriff has been enlisted against his will. His tough wife accompanies, an angry killing machine. But he is mortally wounded and as he stumbles to the river to gently die, she follows in an astonished grief. Dylan sings Knocking on Heavens's Door apparently removed from one cut. Its a whole life together shown.
The third is muffed before its over. Billy and his woman in that town are making love right before his demise. Pat sits outside listening, passion drained from his life. You should be able to see that this is why he wants to kill Billy but you cannot because of how it is cut. But before that you see Billy and Maria make love and it is clear that though both are poor actors, they really are deeply in love. Its deep, knowing we are watching too, watching because we seek passion.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
- Apr 26, 2008