Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch is one of those ultra celebrated Westerns. Mainly because there’s the epic finale scene with bullets and guns and honor and blood and bitches. Back in 69′, he used slow mo capture to emphasize the action which was newish back then. Also, It was probably one of the more brutal and violent films, nevermind just Westerns.

wild bunch

The basic story has a bunch of washed out outlaws, led by Pike Bishop, rob a bank with the idea of it being their last. Unfortunately, turns out the silver they thought they got was steel washers instead. Worse still, they’re getting chased by a group of bounty hunters hired by the railroad who are led by Deke Thornton, who used to work with Pike. Now, Thornton’s having to work for the government instead, as a lackey under the threat of re-imprisonment.

The bunch include Pike, Dutch, the Gorch brothers, Sykes and Angel. They aren’t too happy but resolve to do a new last heist, so they head to Mexico. They cross the border and head to Angel’s village, which has been ravaged by a local warlord, Manache. They ain’t happy but they go to Manache’s. Angel’s right pissed, cos his girl ran off to be Manache’s bitch. So Angel shoots her whilst she’s licking the generalisimo. Pike manages to diffuse the situation but they end up having to work for Manache. The job is to steal some American guns.

So they go and Thornton’s waiting for them so there’s another shootout, but the bunch make it. They go back but get played out by Manache. They make a tradeoff and get the money but they lose Angel, who took one case of guns to arm his village and Manache is wise to this, holding him captive. The bunch are right pissed. Thornton’s on their asses and now they lost their Mexican to another one. So they decide to go to Manache’s again. Money can’t buy him back but it buys them time to whore a bit before they man up and do the deed, 4 guys against an army in the penultimate scene, with a machine gun, grenades and guts. And they only had the latter to start with. It’s epic.

My title isn’t reminiscing about some forgotten cinematic style that I had no memory or attachment to. It’s really trying to encapsulate what the main characters were going through. The film was hella guns and blasting and shit but the main bits that stuck with me was the feeling of futility. There wasn’t much of a future for outlaws. Horses were gonna get replaced by cars and machine guns would replace pistols. The railroad was expanding and progress was marching on, leaving them in the dust. They tried to make some money, got played and couldn’t even save a friend/s. Not to mention the multiple regrets that Pike has, from not being able to save Thornton, leading to his arrest and later turning him against Pike, or the time when he could have whored and drunk his life away instead of planning failed heists.

Peckinpah’s idea for the film was to try and make the violence revulsive, hence the shots where civilians get killed without much reason, caught in the crossfire. The establishment was being represented by buffoons and morons, completely inept but still somehow in control and not likely to relinquish it any time soon. I got a sense that I wasn’t supposed to enjoy the violence and reading wikipedia tells me Peckinpah did intend that. However, I reckon he failed. He didn’t glorify the violence. It leaves a sourness in the mouth, but ultimately, he makes it way too exciting. You just can’t say it’s what makes the show enjoyable. Humans just happen to be carnal creatures. We kill shit. There’s this sick scene at the start where Pike’s band rides past a buncha kids. They’re watching with glee as some scorpions are getting raped by ants and they then set fire to it all.

It’s pretty damn sad that you watch the film and go, well that was awesome. And then you remember the innocents and the children but then go back to the shootouts and/or whoring as the memorable bits. My fave scene is when the hottest chick in the show shoots Pike non fatally. The dude was originally either thinking he was doing her a favor shooting the guy in her closet or he was gonna let her off but noooo, she pulled a gun on him, hit him in the shoulder or arm and he sez, “Bitch!” before plugging her good. Women are completely marginalized as objects in this film and rightly so!

wild bunch bitch

DO NOT trust this biatch.