Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

This is the only film Sam Peckinpah had the final cut, but it is perhaps obvious that he was consumed by his own addictions. Hence the film is as confusing and genius as its maker. Just like Bob Fosse's semi-autobiographical All That Jazz (1978), it is very difficult to dissect this film and make a sense out of it.

Warren Oates is Benny, who is after a gigolo who impregnated a Mexican Jefe's daughter. He is to take the head to other head-hunters, unaware of the true value of the head.

It is very surrealistic, to the point of black comedy. Yet, the nihilism seen in many Peckinpah films, is all the more evident here. It is also one of the few films where women are to be adored, rather than objectified.

The poetic violence is still present, but it lacks the punch of The Wild Bunch (1969) and Straw Dogs (1971). One of the reasons for this is that the latter two films had so much built up for the finale that anything less than a bloodbath would have been unsatisfactory. Nothing is built up in this film - the ending is the most awkward and unsatisfactory of all Peckinpah films. The story seems to be going nowhere and the improvisational nature of Peckinpah's film-making is scarily evident here.

It is something to be savored, but also something only for the purists. As for me, I thought it was decent, but part of me wonders what it could have been had it been more carefully handled.

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