• Daniel Rae

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Review

"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", Campanile Productions, 1969

An introspective western that dives deep to explore the roots of not only the genre, but the style of filmmaking that they were made in.

The organic, contemplative aesthetic that frames the weariness of the story is very reminiscent of Penn's Bonnie and Clyde. This makes the twists and turns the narrative takes very self-reflective in tone - The look and feel of the overall diegesis feels like a response to the drastic change of stylistic movement that was happening in the industry with the rise of French New Wave in Hollywood cinema. The cause-and-effect style of narrative structure is both sparked and fulled by the characters running away from imposing threat. This self-examination leaves audiences with both interesting and unsatisfying results.

I think the relationship shared between Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid is brilliant and perfectly-realised. The carefully blunt writing makes the characters a perfect foil for one another. The naturalness of dynamic between them is an effective opening to the wider reading that I think spectators are encouraged to explore, both with their murky motivations (shaped partly due to the weirdly-depicted misogyny often covered by darkness) and what they represent in the wider playing field of the genre. The way in which their weaknesses are explored is carefully articulated - although acting as plot contrivance, I find that the slow-burning sense of energy that constructs this to be not only engagingly witty but also an interesting assessment on masculine representation, all the while not drawing too much attention to not being as such. I also found the execution of the treatment to be a really effective tool that brings audiences sometimes uncomfortably close to the ragged lifestyle that these characters are living. Grounded by the beauty of the colours and locations brought out by the natural lighting, scenes are often cloaked by an underlying sense of darkness that is vulnerable even to Butch and Sundance.

Nevertheless, the impression of aimless that highlights the power of these subtle creative decisions has a major drawback - It's pacing. Whilst I find a lot of intrigue within the scenes themselves, the way in which they are pieced together feels unkempt and actually draws me away from this almost omnipotent presence that is following the protagonists. The turns which the narrative takes are often pointless to the overall plot. Although I appreciate how it helps mould the emotional torment of genre-identity, directly impacting the personal meaning of these character's lives, the overall meandering rhythm that guides the narrative can sometimes be tedious.

Overall, whilst Hill does a brilliant job at exploring mood through effectively subtle directing and sharp writing, I found this was sometimes at the cost of entertainment value, despite the praise I give to the artistic merits behind the construction of the story.

3.5/5 Stars

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