A film noir with a bitter and tormented tone, filmed with jerky shots, jumps and a graininess that annoyed critics at the time, who called it sloppy and embarrassing, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia was ahead of its time (its stylistic ‘flaws’, its angry, anti-romantic unpleasantness are reflected in movies today, in certain sequences by Quentin Tarantino and explicitly in Tommy Lee Jones’s The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada), but it also ends, like a dirge, the magnificent series of Peckinpah’s greatest films (none of the four subsequent pictures are equal to his previous body of work). A contemporary ‘borderline’ western set in a Mexico that is as brutal in its traditions as it is in its modernity, Garcia seems to contain all the disappointment and loss of previous films, and Bennie, a contemporary loser, seems to embody all the neuroses of older ‘heroes’, who were now indescribable, perhaps incomprehensible, capable only of exploding into madness. […] Elita, with her ties to Bennie and Garcia, with her mature and extremely self-aware femininity […] is the film’s real catalyst, the character that embodies the impulses of love and death of a fictional world bound for self-destruction. This is why Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia underneath its noir surface is really a melodrama, an adult love story that ends up in predestined tragedy in the pursuit of a better life (a Dream) that doesn’t exist. Elita sticks with Bennie headed towards disaster, more aware than he is, more despondent, pessimistic and resigned. And Peckinpah tries to follow them with idyllic images reminiscent of Cable and Hildy, dissolves and music and outdoor picnics; but the images are defiant, the light is cold, Isela Vega’s eyes are full of pain, and Warren Oates’s gestures are reckless. Even the main characters of love stories know, today, that their time is up or, in other words, that they don’t even have the three weeks that a prostitute and a loser could treat themselves to in the desert.
Emanuela Martini, Sister of Mercy, in Sam Peckinpah: il ritmo della violenza, a cura di Franco La Polla, Cineteca di Bologna-Le Mani, Bologna-Recco 2006
Cast and Credits
Sog.: Frank Kowalski, Sam Peckinpah. Scen.: Gordon Dawson, Sam Peckinpah. F.: Alex Phillips, Jr. M.: Robbe Roberts, Sergio Ortega, Dennis E. Dolan. Scgf.: Agustín Ituarte. Mus.: Jerry Fielding. Int.: Warren Oates (Bennie), Isela Vega (Elita), Robert Webber (Sappensly), Gig Young (Quill), Helmut Dantine (Max), Emilio Fernández (El Jefe), Kris Kristofferson (Paco), Chano Urueta (il barista monco). Prod.: Martin Baum per Optimus Productions, Estudios Churubusco Azteca S.A. DCP. D.: 112’. Col.
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