In the opening sequence of Sam Peckinpah’s notoriously violent 1969 film, Pike Bishop and his “Wild Bunch” amble into a quiet southwestern town and unleash a world of hurt. They ride slowly, purposefully, sporadically stunted into two-colour freeze-frames. A steady and confident languor fills the air and the ride into town is extended with each pause, the space before the action expanding into anticipation.
This freeze-frame technique would come to the silver screen again in 2000, directly influencing the opening sequence to Guy Ritchie's Snatch, itself a heist film with its roots in the Western.
On their way, the Bunch pass a huddle of children, joyfully poking at scorpions who are being viciously overcome by a mass of ants. The children giggle, delighted at their sense of control, their ability to experience this horror unscathed.
This combination of repulsion and glee is one that many viewers come to experience as well. When asked about the film and its violent content, Peckinpah has said:
It's a terrible, ugly thing, and yet there's a certain response that you get from it, an excitement, because we're all violent people.
A stinging metaphor of what’s to come.
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Music: Jerry Fielding
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