Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies

Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies

Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies

Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies

Synopsis

More than any other filmmaker, Sam Peckinpah opened the door for graphic violence in movies. In this book, Stephen Prince explains the rise of explicit violence in the American cinema, its social effects, and the relation of contemporary ultraviolence to the radical, humanistic filmmaking that Peckinpah practiced.Prince demonstrates Peckinpah' complex approach to screen violence and shows him as a serious artist whose work was tied to the social and political upheavals of the 1960s. He explains how the director' commitment to showing the horror and pain of violence compelled him to use a complex style that aimed to control the viewer' response.Prince offers an unprecedented portrait of Peckinpah the filmmaker. Drawing on primary research materials--Peckinpah' unpublished correspondence, scripts, production memos, and editing notes--he provides a wealth of new information about the making of the films and Peckinpah' critical shaping of their content and violent imagery. This material shows Peckinpah as a filmmaker of intelligence, a keen observer of American society, and a tragic artist disturbed by the images he created.Prince' account establishes, for the first time, Peckinpah' place as a major filmmaker. This book is essential reading for those interested in Peckinpah, the problem of movie violence, and contemporary American cinema.

Excerpt

Sam Peckinpah directed only fourteen feature films, a small number compared with the output of such prolific directors as John Ford and Howard Hawks. Peckinpah's career as a feature director was a relatively brief one, spanning just over two decades and marked by several lengthy hiatuses between productions. Measured in terms of the quantity of his output, therefore, he might appear to fall outside the circle of major American filmmakers. Part of what gives Ford and Hawks their stature is, in fact, a measure of quantity--the large number of accomplished films that they directed. If we shave from Peckinpah's career those productions where the work was chaotic and relatively undisciplined, we are left with six or seven clearly first-rate pictures.

Why, then, does Peckinpah's presence loom so large in modern American cinema? a small part of the answer lies in the folklore and legends that surrounded Peckinpah, the man. Like John Huston, he was an exceptionally colorful and interesting personality about whom friends and associates could spin an endless supply of anecdotes and tall tales. With his brawling and drinking, Peckinpah cut a wide swath through life, a life that was consistent with a peculiarly romantic notion of how an artist should . . .

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