DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: KILLER OF SHEEP

Sunday, 9 December 2007


Killer of Sheep (1977) dir. Charles Burnett
Starring: Henry G. Sanders, Kaycee Moore, Charles Bracy, Angela Burnett

** (the Film)
**** (the DVD)

I don’t know what to say about “Killer of Sheep”. I had never heard of the film until this year, when people were discussing it as one of the greatest American films of all time. Did I miss something? Like Milestone Films’ other prominent re-release this year “I Am Cuba” “Killer of Sheep” was a ‘lost treasure’ – a slice of life tale of a working class slaughterhouse labourer in the L.A. community of Watts. African-American director Charles Burnett directed the film in 1977 and received great acclaim in film festivals at the time, but because of unsecured rights to its 22 blues and pop songs it could not be released.

This year the rights to these songs were purchased for $150,000 which finally allowed the film to be released to the public. But between 1977 and now, the film has grown in stature exponentially. It received the Critic’s Award at the 1981 Berlin Film Festival, placement in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress in 1990, and named by the National Board of Review as one of the 100 Essential Films of All Time in 2002.

So I’m supposed to like the film right? Taking all the praise out of context, the film feels like a student film – it was Burnett’s Master’s thesis film at UCLA. Shot on Black and White, with non-professional actors – some of whom perform well, some don’t – bad sound, questionable editing, and complete non-sensical narrative. The film, purposely oblique, coasts along without little dramatic beats or turning points. To put it simply, it's boring.

The moments which make the film one of the 100 ‘essential’ films of all time are indeed good, but over-praised. Essentially there is no story, instead a series of scenes which make up the slice of life ‘neo-realism’ the film has been identified as. But it's this aspect of the film that apparently make it a 'masterpiece', so it's really just a matter of personal taste.

Firstly there’s Stan (Henry Gayle Sanders) who has the sadness of a Lamberto Maggiorani (“Bicycle Thieves”) or a Giulietta Masina (“La Strada”). He has a palpable love for his family but also a slow staggering gate which suggests a certain detachment from life. The scenes are crafted without logic or continuity with any of the scenes before or after it. There’s a scene where he’s propositioned by local criminals to help in a job – Stan declines, but this scene never pays off later. There’s a scene where he and a friend carry a car engine from his house to his truck, only to have it fall and break. This never pans out either. The most interesting scenes are with the children in the community, who rarely speak, but Burnett shows us lengthy sequences of their everyday activities- whether it’s throwing rocks at each other, riding their bicycles, jumping rooftops or doing handstands. These innocent young kids are particularly mesmerizing in their banality. These mundane occurrences feel like episodes from a National Film Board of Canada documentary.

So if I take the film as if it’s a documentary, then the film becomes interesting. The characters have a manner of speaking unheard of for a film of that time. The urban African-American slang, and their use of the n-word has become prominent and overused in today’s film, but I’ve never heard such language in a film made in 1977. But even documentaries have a story arc and changing characters, so I'm still scratching my head.

Culturally, the film has major significance. There were virtually no African-American filmmakers at the time, and any films made with African-Americans as the leads were always exploitation films. Burnett manages to give a voice to his community and show America the hardships and struggles of his peers.

Milestone Films has once again outdone themselves in the presentation of the film. The DVD is a two disc set expertly packaged with reverent artwork perfectly representing the tone of the film. Disc one contains the film as well as 3 short films by Burnett – all of which have similar style. Disc two contains Burnett’s second (and also unreleased) feature “My Brother’s Wedding” as well his latest short film produced in 2005 and many other fine tidbits. For fans of the film and cine-historians, it’s a dynamite job.

I only wish I could enjoy the film more. I appreciate it’s cultural and historical significance in African-American cinema, but it’s far far away Vittorio De Sica, or Federico Fellini.

Buy it here: Killer of Sheep: The Charles Burnett Collection

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

豆豆聊天室 aio交友愛情館 2008真情寫真 2009真情寫真 aa片免費看 捷克論壇 微風論壇 大眾論壇 plus論壇 080視訊聊天室 情色視訊交友90739 美女交友-成人聊天室 色情小說 做愛成人圖片區 豆豆色情聊天室 080豆豆聊天室 小辣妹影音交友網 台中情人聊天室 桃園星願聊天室 高雄網友聊天室 新中台灣聊天室 中部網友聊天室 嘉義之光聊天室 基隆海岸聊天室 中壢網友聊天室 南台灣聊天室 南部聊坊聊天室 台南不夜城聊天室 南部網友聊天室 屏東網友聊天室 台南網友聊天室 屏東聊坊聊天室 雲林網友聊天室 大學生BBS聊天室 網路學院聊天室 屏東夜語聊天室 孤男寡女聊天室 一網情深聊天室 心靈饗宴聊天室 流星花園聊天室 食色男女色情聊天室 真愛宣言交友聊天室 情人皇朝聊天室 上班族成人聊天室 上班族f1影音視訊聊天室 哈雷視訊聊天室 080影音視訊聊天室 38不夜城聊天室 援交聊天室080 080哈啦聊天室 台北已婚聊天室 已婚廣場聊天室 夢幻家族聊天室 摸摸扣扣同學會聊天室 520情色聊天室 QQ成人交友聊天室 免費視訊網愛聊天室 愛情公寓免費聊天室 拉子性愛聊天室 柔情網友聊天室 哈啦影音交友網 哈啦影音視訊聊天室 櫻井莉亞三點全露寫真集 123上班族聊天室 尋夢園上班族聊天室 成人聊天室上班族 080上班族聊天室 6k聊天室 粉紅豆豆聊天室 080豆豆聊天網 新豆豆聊天室 080聊天室 免費音樂試聽 流行音樂試聽 免費aa片試看A片 免費a長片線上看 色情貼影片 免費a長片 本土成人貼圖站 大台灣情色網 台灣男人幫論壇 A圖網 嘟嘟成人電影網 火辣春夢貼圖網 情色貼圖俱樂部 台灣成人電影 絲襪美腿樂園 18美女貼圖區 柔情聊天網 707網愛聊天室聯盟 台北69色情貼圖區 38女孩情色網 台灣映像館 波波成人情色網站 美女成人貼圖區 無碼貼圖力量 色妹妹性愛貼圖區 日本女優貼圖網 日本美少女貼圖區 亞洲風暴情色貼圖網 哈啦聊天室 美少女自拍貼圖 辣妹成人情色網 台北女孩情色網 辣手貼圖情色網 AV無碼女優影片 男女情色寫真貼圖 a片天使俱樂部 萍水相逢遊戲區 平水相逢遊戲區 免費視訊交友90739 免費視訊聊天 辣妹視訊 - 影音聊天網 080視訊聊天室 日本美女肛交 美女工廠貼圖區 百分百貼圖區 亞洲成人電影情色網 台灣本土自拍貼圖網 麻辣貼圖情色網 好色客成人圖片貼圖區 711成人AV貼圖區 台灣美女貼圖區 筱萱成人論壇 咪咪情色貼圖區 momokoko同學會視訊 kk272視訊 情色文學小站 成人情色貼圖區 嘟嘟成人網 嘟嘟情人色網 - 貼圖區 免費色情a片下載 台灣情色論壇 成人影片分享 免費視訊聊天區 微風 成人 論壇 kiss文學區 taiwankiss文學區