Monday, March 02, 2009

"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) - Movie Review

“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” has an odd clarity. It is a series of events which clearly seem to have very little emotional value and yet we come to like these two brats. Because of Paul Newman and Robert Redford who create these outlaws and killers into some one we can hang around and drink with. And also their victims shown in the film are the one who attacks them. Even if it is for the right reason, we know that if those people get to know these two they would be good friends. In fact we meet couple of them who are faithful to their job but also like these fellas. They are the friendly neighbourhood outlaws Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and Sundance Kid (Robert Redford).

Directed by George Roy Hill, it is a western and loves the nature. It carries among the vast wide lands with nothing but rail roads inviting to be robbed. It ventures through the deserts where the trails of horses are gone the second it lifts its leg. It streams through the dense jungles and gushing waterfalls. But before that you got to climb the rocky terrain. This is a film which adores its outdoors and makes them a major element in its story. Escaping through these places are our two men.

Conveniently mentioned as “most of what follows is true”, this is a picture of course getting mesmerized by its two charismatic characters. Whether the real Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid were really this fun is something no one will ever know but the men Newman and Redford creates are nice lads with an itch to rob. They rob banks and trains and spend it immediately. They have been addicted to this routine for some time and in one of the takings, they are surprised by a bunch of law men. They run and run but they are constantly followed without any tiny bit of tiring from their trackers. They employ several methods to distract and try to lose them but this time around there seems to be no escape. That run is like any other chase. Time consuming and totally suspenseful, it is the first draw by the film to invite the viewers into it.

Sundance has a woman Etta (Katherine Ross) whom Cassidy loves but only to a limit by both of them. Sundance knows it and allows it as he knows his buddy and his woman well. They become a trio in the second half of the film. From thousands of places, Cassidy opts for the country of Bolivia because he has read, heard and understood that mines are surplus and money is easy to be snatched off. Sundance a good shot knows his friend is smart but not as smart as he says. Yet there is no option and the trio go to the land of the South which becomes an interesting venture in the land they do not speak the language. We also witness a funny robbery with a problem in communication.

There is no hurry in the action nor in the characters we come to slowly like. Butch played by Newman is the subtle and sarcastic man. Newman flies with the air of friendship and casualness all around him. Redford speaks less but is lovable because of his trust over his partner. They both of course click. The great thing of the comic timing in between these two is the surprise simple revelations in the crucial times. As them we form certain traits as their part of life to be taken for granted and when that comes to be the quintessential thing to save their life, we burst into simple laughter.

Watching the film, I might be lying if I say it as the best film made and a classic to be cherished. I liked the film a lot but there is an oddity to the nature in which it surrounds the story amongst its characters. There is no attempt to even treat the friendship not with melodrama but not even a simple drama. In fact that is how it should have been treated . Despite that we believe on the trust these two men have over each other. And that scarcity may have also put some blank thoughts in reaching towards the film.

But it is a classic for different reasons in my opinion. It is classic for its presentation and the music by Burt Bacharach to align the scenes. It has colour tone usage appropriate and carefully employed in not overemphasizing it. And it is a classic because Newman and Redford are plainly adorable. They are the outlaws as a kid one would read about and shelf their morality for a while. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” is a rare film. Might not be the single most greatest film of all time but clearly has marked its era and no one can deny its existence in the novelty and unique presentation of its times.

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