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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cool Ass Cinema Book Reviews: Wild Gory West Edition


By P.B. Hurst

Hardcover; 229 pages; B/W--2008

Marketed (and rightly so) as "The Most Savage Film In History", SOLDIER BLUE ignited a firestorm of controversy for its role reversal depiction of "Cowboys & Indians". Granted, both sides are shown to be war mongers, but it's the US cavalry, whose all too frequent stoic image is torn asunder during the films shockingly nasty denouement; itself based on the grim reality of the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado, 1864. Seeing the film now, it's difficult to imagine that such onscreen depravity was filmed in 1969, but even more astounding in that what is seen during the final 15 to 20 minutes is more of a montage of what was originally shot. While the controversial ending is what attracts the most attention, Hurst's book tackles the subject from every possible angle leaving no stone unturned and no severed limb overlooked.

Easily one of the most complete and devoted works ever mounted for a single movie, it's glaringly obvious the author has deep affection for this frequently brilliant motion picture that's one of the most curious, ripe for discussion feature films of the 1970s. Hurst's work also covers the era in which the film was made and the accusations that the film was an allegory for the then recently uncovered My Lai Massacre in Vietnam. Those with a fondness for the picture will find every conceivable detail surrounding the movie, its making, its release and its controversy and so much more. Hurst includes scenes that were cut from the script for time, the shooting of the infamous finale and the near riot of one showing that caused Nelson to change his mind about what should be shown onscreen--only later to regret the decision. Even every aspect of the spending budget is revealed as well as rare behind the scenes shots that were excised and storyboards, too. It's this kind of exhaustive dedication that should be embraced by more authors as well as more tomes like this one. Highly recommended and if you're a fan, or have the money for the steep price ($50), it's unquestionably one for the shelves.


Shaun Anderson [The Celluloid Highway] said...

Sounds like a fascinating read, for a film, that I must confess, I don't particularly admire.

venoms5 said...

I re-watched the movie a couple weeks ago and got so interested in re-reading the book again, or more accurately, reading it from start to finish as I had skipped a few chapters when I first bought it.

When I first saw the film, I didn't know what to make of it. I was expecting one thing and got something different. Only during the second (and now third) viewing did I see it clearly, at least from my perspective of it.

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