For Reel

The Shooting (1966)
October 26, 2015, 8:15 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Monte Hellman
5 Stars
The ShootingShot along with Ride in the Whirlwind over a period of six weeks, The Shooting is an existentialist western, using familiar archetypes and scenarios of the genre with a very contemporary, experimental aesthetic. The film’s use of jump cuts aids a certain off-the-cuff, sometimes mythical quality–that is, when two scenes involving different characters are cut together so as to make it seem as though the characters are completing each other’s thoughts, there’s a sense of the metaphysical, the dreamlike. If Hawks and Ford are largely earthbound but spiritual, Monte Hellman is the opposite–the narrative and sense of place seem celestial, but the philosophical implications are much harsher. Ideas of heroism are muted, or at least the ideals are. If Coley (Will Hutchins) is in a prime position to be the hero of a traditional western, The Shooting places him up against an unshakable objectivity, a betrayal of the genre’s most lasting tropes. In one shot, the sky is seen from a low angle as some indiscernible movement appears on the bottom of the frame. As Coley climbs the object and comes into frame, we recognize now that it is his horse. That the shot is not focused around him, but rather he enters it, suggests the very objectivity of the world that these characters inhabit.

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