Straw Dogs [Blu-Ray] Sam Peckinpah

Straw Dogs [Blu-Ray] Sam Peckinpah
Straw Dogs is one of those timeless, coming-of-age, masterpiece films; one that is "mummified," as Andre Bazin would put it. Yet it doesn't encapsulate what is normally thought of as a bildungsroman: gentle, an eternal romance. No, the film is still as horrifying and grotesque as when it shocked audiences in 1971. The subdued '70s colour scheme and bleak British countryside amplify the terror that occurs. The recent 2011 remake traded the British landscape for the backwater wasteland of the Southern U.S., an easy route to construct hillbillies with an excuse for sexual deviance. However, the desolate Cornish village bears no resemblance and the hardboiled derelicts that appear are unexpected, unrelenting and far more terrifying. The narrative follows David Sumner's (Dustin Hoffman) journey from childish naiveté to enraged, bloodthirsty manhood. Sumner, a rather egotistical and gullible young mathematician, is forced to confront the vicious local harassment of his wife's childhood home. Still, most of the violence isn't directed immediately towards David, as wife Amy (Susan George) is the target. The zenith of David's personal journey is when he learns to defend himself and his wife from the brutality directed at them. The film's infamous rape scene and glorified sadistic ending are impossible to forget, even with contemporary ideas of gore and "torture porn"; Straw Dogs remains one of the most controversial films in the history of cinema. It was one of the first in a long string of "controversial" films in the late '60s through to the early '80s, including A Clockwork Orange and Deliverance, which too have similar themes. The film's brilliance lies in the performances of a young Hoffman, who was able to embody both innocence and primacy, and beautiful Susan George, playing David's supremely provocative young wife. Though the misogyny and horrifying sexual abuse done to George's character are difficult to endure as a viewer, the film's journey-like narrative structure and depth of character are remarkable. The Blu-Ray features an original theatrical trailer, with a Vincent Price-like narration track, and various T.V. spots. Due to the high quality of the disc, the unending countryside and terrific suspense are heightened. The grainy '70s colour palette is rendered with a subtle, pristine quality, yet it doesn't lose its authenticity with the advanced digital technology. (Sony)