Analysis of The Wild Bunch 2:10:00-2:12:50
The Wild Bunch, directed by Sam Peckinpah, set a record for the most edits of any color film up to its time with 3,643 shot-to shot edits. This is a western movie about an outlaw gang on the Mexico-United States border. Because the traditional “American West” is dying, the Wild Bunch, led by Pike Bishop, are looking for one last big “job” before retiring. When they fail to rob a bank, a Mexican Officer named Mapache and his German military advisers hire the bunch to steal a US arms shipment for them. Pike and his men agree to do so in exchange for ten thousand dollars, but one of the group members, Angel, insists on taking a case of rifles to his village and use them to defend themselves. When Pike presents the stolen weapons, Mapache reveals he knew about double cross and captures Angel. This causes the wild bunch to do whatever is necessary to persuade Mapache to return their fellow comrade.
The scene being analyzed is the Wild Bunch’s final stand against Mapache and his forces. It takes place about two hours into the film and is the event catalyst that sparks the climax of the movie. Mapache and his German advisor Mohr are holding Angel captive. Pike wants him returned because one time he abandoned a past gang member who was captured, and he wants to remain loyal and not leave anyone behind. Because this is such a pivotal moment, it moves the story forward.
This scene contributes to the ongoing story because it is the tipping point that begins the final shoot out. When Pike and the rest of his men are finally seen not running away from something, rather committing an unselfish act. This scene provides closure to Angel’s fate and how the bunch goes about persuading Mapache to hand him over. Additionally, the audience learns that Pike practices what he preaches. Pike stays true to his word of not leaving anyone behind by confronting Angel’s captives instead of leaving him to Mapache’s forces. Pike’s mentality stems from the guilt of abandoning his past partners to fend for themselves when they’re about to get caught. The overall mood of the scene is created by the conflict of interest during the confrontation.
The foreboding mood is established by the camera’s point of view and technical elements involved. The action builds implying that something bad will happen which it does; Angel is murdered, and Pike starts the shootout. Pike knew that times are changing, and the era of the traditional west was dwindling, so he had nothing left to lose by starting the bloody massacre. A series of close ups and pans edited together by flat cuts capture the relationship between the main characters and multiple bystanders looking around at each other stunned. These elements work together to show the main characters making eye contact and communicating through looks and accepting their fate compared to verbally agreeing to accept their fate. The objective angle allows the audience to seem like they are in the scene but are viewing the action as a bystander. Although close ups of the characters are used, they never look directly into the camera preventing a fourth wall break. Using close-up camera angles and objective shots, a foreboding mood is established. After an in-depth analysis of this scene from The Wild Bunch, the audience can takeaway qualities and meaning that may have been missed the first time when viewed.