Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rolling Thunder (1977)

Driector: John Flynn. Cast: William Devane, Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Haynes. 95 min. Rated R. Crime/Drama.

I've read Tarantino considers this one of the best revenge movies ever, and I can see how it inspired Kill Bill. A Vietnam veteran returns after seven years of prison camp torture, and back home, some people do him and his family wrong. Very wrong. This is not a brainless killing spree movie. It takes its time to engage us with the characters, and show how war has destroyed the souls of its two avengers (William Devane and Tommy Lee Jones in silent, creepy roles). No wonder the climactic bloodbath is reminiscent of Taxi Driver; Paul Schrader wrote both screenplays.

PS #1: Although this has been recently published on Bluray, a high-definition version is streaming on Netflix. Does the job fine.

PS #2: The main character's name is Major Charles Rane. Brad Pitt's character in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds is Lt. Aldo Raine. Hmmmmm.

PS #3: Interesting IMDb trivia:

- "Quentin Tarantino named his distributing company, Rolling Thunder Pictures, after this film. Rolling Thunder Pictures released B-movies, cult classics, independent films, exploitation movies, and foreign films. The company went under due to poor sales."

- "In the book "Schrader On Schrader", Paul Schrader who co-wrote the movie complains how the studio completely twisted his original version of the story. He wrote it as a critique of US involvement in Vietnam War and fascistic and racist attitudes in America. Rane was originally written as white trash racist with many similarities to Schrader's more famous character Travis Bickle (the main character of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver). In this version, Rane becomes a war hero without ever having fired a gun, and comes home to confront the Texas Mexican community. Rane's racist upbringing and hatred that grew in him in Vietnam slowly come out. This version ends with Rane's indiscriminate slaughter of Mexicans which was meant as a metaphor for Vietnam. Schrader concludes with a claim that he basically wrote a film about fascism, and the studio made a fascist film."

Mo says:

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