Joe Ashi (A40590865) ENG 333 03-30-11 We Ain’t Headin’ Nowheres, We’re Just Runnin’ From The 1967 film

Bonnie and Clyde, directed by Arthur Penn exposes the story of the criminal rampage that these two characters embarked upon. This film is based on the truelife individuals that the movie depicts—a male and female bank robbing duo that barrel across a Depression ravaged America on a shooting spree that ends in a deadly rain of bullets and tragedy. However, by the attempt to produce a hyper-realistic representation of these historical gangsters the film demonstrates an “over-determination of generic codes that foregrounds them as spectacles of entertainments rather than documentary records” (Mason 123). Bonnie and Clyde deemed itself as a “hot-blooded” and controversial gangster film combining several in and outs—comedy, terror, love, and fierce violence. Warner Brothers—the studio responsible for the gangster films of the 1930s, produced the film and it seems appropriate that this novel, revisionist classic redefined and romanticized the gangster genre and the portrayal of screen violence in cinema. This story depicts Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s rise to power in their lawlessness and use of force through armed robbery. On the run from the law, the criminals embody a trait of innocence as they cling to each other in their attempts to function as a family unit. The determined couple’s armed robberies of banks can be viewed sympathetically by the rurally ejected and occurred at a time when institutions were robbing and tarnishing grateful, farmers. It makes sense to believe that in the 1960s the film had no problem in the way in which it achieved this sympathic tone from its use of radical characters and a social criticism that appealed to a counter-culture of American

Ashi 2 youth. The film was heavily influenced by European film making pioneers and auteurs. However. In the dawn of a New Hollywood Cinema. because the film works quite marvelously despite any inaccuracy. made an unfortunate turn and escalated into more violent and murderous escapades. Bonnie and Clyde incorporates two captivating elements: one woman’s adoption of a violent lifestyle to fuel her sexual desires and monotony and one man’s sexual incompetency and inability to please that woman. the sexual inconstancies— however. Sure. These two workings are made clear through Arthur Penn’s effective use in cinematic style. the bank robberies of this young and flamboyant. thrill-seeking couple. thereby explaining their rise to success. this does not matter. they were killers. Penn’s film does not hide behind any belief that the pair was capable of gratuitous violence. There are questions as to the historical context of both of the characters—their engagements in crime. Gangster films in the 1960s were structured around a particular character trait in their gangster heroes and heroines which both. but also identified these features as flaws that resulted in their ultimate downfall” (Mason 122). Bonnie and Clyde exhibits many characteristics of experimental filmmaking from the French New Wave movement. “singled them out as untypical individuals. Most notably. similarities to the experiments of aesthetic . (for the most part) innocent and petty in the beginning. the film is about robbers and killers. In the classic gangster mold. and Clyde was capable of exemplifying himself as a brutful thug. and on many basic levels it also deals with the avid lust that America had for outlaws and violence—both certainly one of the film’s legacies. What’s truly fascinating is how intuitive Bonnie and Clyde was at trying to reduce the larger than life personas down to flawed individuals.

Bonnie clearly thinks she deserves better.’ Though. This has the effect of keeping the audience off balance and not letting them off the hook. this is not to say that all gangster films in the period can be reduced to the parallel process of modernization and postmodernisation. Penn deliberately filmed many scenes with different styles. but that “as an informing principle this helps to understand how gangster cinema in the period both reflects on (in its nostalgia) and revising (in its renewal) generic history” (Mason 121). and views everything that follows from within this framework. Shot with a bright color pallet. The editing at times is particularly fragmented and choppy and this heightens the tension (particularly in the closing shootout). However. Bonnie lies down on her bed and begins to eye the metal bars of the headboard. as she bangs on the bars the audience identifies with the prison she feels she is in. Bonnie's frustration and boredom find perfect expression in a series of cuts. The bars run diagonally across the screen and cast shadows across her face. a New Hollywood characteristic. these cinematic developments are also accompanied by cultural developments that have come to be called ‘postmodernism. The following close-up (when she grabs the bars) and . and the cinematography is also intentionally displaced throughout. the audience makes no attempt to elude itself away from the craft. The film opens with a dissolve from a portrait of Clyde to an extreme close up of Bonnie applying vibrant red lipstick.Ashi 3 modernism begin to form in its development of ‘auteur cinema’ as both practice and theory. At one moment the violence and gunplay is comic and slapstick and then later is juxtaposed against graphic carnage. The inference of this specific edit is that the two will be linked in the film. Based on how she saw herself in the mirror. In the same scene. and that love will be involved. From the beginning. Penn introduces the love story as essential to the film.

The mise-en-scene on the long tracking shot down the ‘Main Street’. boarded up stores. Bonnie rubs the tip of the bottle of Coke across her lips as she watches Clyde guzzle his— she smiles. He pulls out his gun and she immediately crumbles. during the Great Depression. a moment of exposure as the audience realizes she’s picturing herself kissing him. desolate country all around them. The establishing shot of the main street in town introduces the flat and empty.e. When Bonnie asks Clyde what armed robbery is like it is made clear she has her mind on the freedom made possible through the caper Clyde can provide. After Clyde robs the grocery store and they escape down . dustbowl. such that he uses his gun as a substitute for his penis whereas Bonnie. finds sexual release from seeing the gun and the implied level of escape it represents. sepia tone) that surround Bonnie and Clyde—contrastingly evident to the sweet talking criminal in the white hat. “Crime is on one level presented as an act of libidinous pleasure (and as a kind of sexual sublimation)” (Mason 126).Ashi 4 zoom into an extreme close up of her eyes makes her desperation blatant. a sexually frustrated women. Bonnie is caught in a dead end life. Moreover. This idea of a fairly adequate young woman living in a dead end town. He tells her he is a robber and a crook. is made even more satisfactory by Penn’s employment of mise-en-scene and craft in cinematography. She sort of sinfully strokes the barrel with ravening excitement (the sexual use in imagery here is unavoidable) and realizes how truly exciting the potential life as a criminal has. she does not believe him. By emphasizing the aspect for the need of social evasion in her life Penn has the audience initially glimpse Bonnie in a promising light. running off with a convicted felon. allows the audience to connect with the hard times and limited opportunities (i. working a dead end job. the scene also points out that Clyde is sexually incompetent.

both yearning for something else. Penn’s 1967 film presents a gangster character that was no longer a monster—rather. and this is one of the areas where the film demythologizes its forebears. gangsters in the classic mould. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow died not as eliminations to the threats of a secure society. but as a destruction of vibrant personas who lived in an aura of romance. they are presented as products of marginality from the outset (Clyde’s criminal records is a badge of disposition rather than a sign of criminal immorality). but it is a tragedy that could have hardly been avoided given the environment Bonnie and Clyde found themselves in. Clyde can't believe that he was the target of violence: “He tried to kill me. After a grocery store hold-up. a gangster that had been humanized. “an expression of oppositionality that leads nowhere rather than a positive response to social oppression” (Mason 126) a relationship that also places the film with in the road movie genre. however. At this point. . morally resentful and in disbelief. epitomized by Clyde’s statement that ‘we ain’t headin’ nowheres. imagination. They are not. “because the classic gangster’s goal is achievement of the American Dream through illegitimate means” (Mason 125-126). Why'd he try to kill me? I didn't want to hurt him. gangsters with a social message of opposition.” Crime in Bonnie and Clyde is thus more. and passion. we’re just runnin’ from’. who wouldn’t want to escape their predicament given an opportunity? The escape of course ends in tragedy. but something that society cannon provide.” Above all the film gave the audience two gangster characters that they could identify and sympathize with. Bonnie and Clyde become romantic outlaws. drama.Ashi 5 the same street. Penn introduces a dominant driving force in the film—the ‘us against the world’ motif.

. “Nostalgia and Renewal in the Post-Classical Gangster Film. 2002.” American Gangster Cinema: From "Little Caesar" to "Pulp Fiction". Fran. Print.Ashi 6 Works Cited Mason.p. 120-29. N.: Palgrave Macmillan.

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