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Sam Peckinpah

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Peckinpah also known as David Samuel is absolutely a legendary filmmaker and screenwriter whose career had many ups and downs though success. In his directorial career, Peckinpah focused on pain and violence in most of his films. This brought appraisal and criticism from his fans and the media. The director’s film skills are evident in his works as seen in various scenes, characterization and story -lines in his films (Bubbeo, 112).


In his film the Cross of Iron (1997), Peckinpah present the first scene of demoralized and ravaged Germany army which is retreating from a Russian army. Early at dawn, a German soldier faces a young Russian soldier. The boy’s angel -like face and presence depicts presence of war and symbolic of lost families. The boy’s presence is also an indication of the chaotic war. The German soldier acts in a humane way by feeding, clothing and saving the boy from execution. Before the two part ways, the German soldier attempts to explain that though in different sides in war, he and the young Russian soldier have gone through the same fate of landing in no man’s land. The boy manages a smile as he begins his journey home. Steiner, the German soldier watches the boy disappear among the trees where he captures a glimpse of enemy soldiers. The young Russian soldier runs through a clearing to meet his fellow army men but he is shot by one among his side. Steiner, the German soldier lets out an anguish cry defeated by his helplessness merely making a mere step as he staggers (Roy, 132).

In the film Major Dundee, Peckinpah direct fantastic action scenes. The confrontation between Charlton Heston, the major Dundee Richard Harris, and the war-prisoner is the best depiction ever. The frustrated soldier gets a chance to fight in pursuit of the cruel Apache Sierra Chariba, the soldier fight brutally making war against everybody, that is, the French army in Mexico, his fellow soldiers and the Apaches. Then, abruptly, something tears to pieces inside him. He feels rather, rather tired and resolves to drunkenness and brutal dejection. Later, the Apaches approach and Dundee gains strength and recollects from his self-made nightmare and fights on. 

The major Dundee actually has no choice other than being an assassin.  His disgrace came towards the cease of the world war which found him in charge of the prison camp. Initially, he served under Dundee before war. Dundee, who is a southerner, was chosen to fight for the benefit of the Union hence both see each other as a traitor. This distrust is accelerated by soldiers on both sides opposed to black soldiers recruited to serve under the union. The scene further, has a series of Apaches escape to Mexico which was by then governed by the French hence they are caught up in war with the French as well.  The scene turns terrific towards the end as Heston is shot and rests in a small town with the help of Harris. This the final battle on the river which depicts furious violence in particular. There is a pool of blood that s spread out on the water that the horse get hit (Mobile reference, 84).

Another outstanding scene in the director’s is in the Wild Bunch film in which its presentation is rather done in an uncompromising style. The opening scene of this film is a small town south of Texas known as San Rafael dating back to 1913. A gang of six has moved into a robbery. They wild bunch is absolutely unaware that the whole idea is a setup. There is no money in the sacks. The moneys are actually filled with washers and some strategically placed bounty hunters who are hidden in ambush. Things turn out inevitably messy with each gunshot. There are several innocent citizens who are caught up in the bloody crossfire. The gang of six take on their heels as the bounty hunters follow in their pursuit. The gang leader, William Holden carries out his plan though with difficulty due to his old wound that hinders his attempt to mount on his horse. One of the gang members goes missing and Robert Ryan a close friend of Pike who was arrested is in command of mercenaries to hunt his former buddies (Mobile reference, 84).


Peckinpah also had a striking skill of characterization as evident in quite a number of his films. In the film ride the high country, Peckinpah uses Randolph as a retired lawman whose character Peckinpah develops by assigning him the role of escorting gold shipment which is to pass through a bandit territory. His greatest short coming is his failure to realize that his partner and former is up to double-cross him. In the film cross of iron Peckinpah develops Steiner, the german soldier as a caring character who attempts to protect the men who are his command. Steiner is an independent character who despises all types of authority. Though he is a highly ranking sergeant with great achievements and braves death, he despises the uniform he puts on and his stand as a soldier. This contrast of his role as a sergeant and the devotion he has in it. In the film Junior Bonner, Peckinpah develops the character of a cow boy, the title character who is a man who did outlive his time and came back home from wandering only to find out that his brother sold out the homestead. He, Peckinpah avoids the male fraternity to drive from familial emergence (Bubbeo, 112).


Peckinpah was also talented in developing and keeping story-line all through in his films. For instance, the film, ride the high country has its story-line from the aging Steve Jude who was formerly a marshal and now is hired to transport a gold shipment for a bank through a bandit prone territory. The ex-marshal hires, protege Heck and Gil Westrum to help him in his mission. However, Steve Jude is not aware of Gil’s and Heck’s plan to steal the gold. On their way, both encounter a young woman whose desire is to run away from her father, her treacherous psychotic brothers and her fiance.   The cross of iron is another of Peckinpah’s illustration of his skill in keeping a continuous story-line.  This is one of his greatest anti-war films during ancient times.

The story line is drawn from the Second World War focusing on battle-torn sergeant played by the Russian martinet, James Coburn. The portrayal of the Nazi soldier’s    reveals the Germans as ordinary troops fighting desperately for their own good as well as their cohorts to save their lives.  In the film Junior Bonner, Peckinpah takes a story line from plot to focus on the milieu, the rodeo and the cattle drive. Among the epic scenes directed by Peckinpah is the American history in the film Major Dundee in which the group of confederate prisoners encounter bloody and vengeful tag of war with the freed slaves who Dundee is leading to war against the Apaches during the last days of war (Roy, 102).

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