TITLE: Straw Dogs
YEAR RELEASED: 1971
DIRECTOR: Sam Peckinpah
CAST: Dustin Hoffman, Susan George, Peter Vaughan and T. P. McKenna
NIA JONES reviews the brutal 1971 Sam Peckinpah classic, Straw Dogs
The film title comes from the works of Asian philosopher Lao-tzu, “Heaven and earth are not humane, and regard the people as straw dogs.”
And as a film, it really fulfils its promise of a drama and psychological thriller, the horror element is in the sense the inhumanity and lawlessness possible when circumstances allow, it also cements the age-old chestnut of unfriendly– to – outsiders feral locals with pitchforks screeching “You aint from these parts, are ya?”
Straw Dogs is famed for its sexual sadism and violence, among other things, the film boards were cutting their teeth and ultimately teething on how to rate films containing graphic content during that period.
As any of us could find ourselves in the couple’s situation, this is what makes Straw Dogs so unsettling, an uncomfortable cinematic treasure to put it mildly, probably not to everyone’s taste.
Released in the same year as ‘A Clockwork Orange’, Straw Dogs comes from the same vein in regards to controversy, it was immediately given an X rating, but an edited version was released, and a certain scene’s perspective was altered.
Dustin Hoffman’s performance is wonderful; his transition as a character is brutal and perfectly acted, every character has a purpose, it is not just too much stupid on film.
The film packs a serious and frightening punch; an exhaustive and emotional build upis twinned with paranoia and a growing sense of concern from the outset.It is inevitable bloodshed and people bullied and pushed to their boiling points.
There was a remake made of this film in 2011, I find this kind of move unnecessary and purely money-driven, the same has happened with The Omen, The Wicker Man and Day of the Dead, when will the industry chiefs learn “ if it aint broken, don’t re- film it!”
It still perplexes me that the film industry still insist on remaking perfectly beautiful classics, the original and imaginative work of thousands of very capable writers will never see the light of day, because of this nonsense.
Knowing a mostly poor remake is out there must somehow removes some of the lustre from the original masterpiece.