Cinerama: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Cinerama

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

By Mike Derderian

The clock’s bell struck announcing twelve, the scorching sun was unbearable. The town was abandoned. Amidst the suffocating heat, a tumbleweed rolled right through the town’s square pushed by a sudden gust of wind.

The atmosphere in the town was calm— no one insight, except me and little Jim “widow-maker” bungalow, the man who has been terrorizing the county for the past years.

Our paths finally entwined leaving us with no choice but to have a showdown, right here and right now. Facing each other in the abandoned piazza, Little Jim cried out saying “‘I shoot the sheriff but I didn’t shoot the deputy’ so what ya gonna do about it boy?” Little did I care whom he shot for now it was up to me to stop this notorious killer.

As we stood there under the blazing sun, silence was broken by the rustling of our spurs that gave tempo to this tango of death. Our eyes met trying to foresee who will make the first move. Keeping my eyes on the varmint I cocked my gun, while little Jim opened his long black buffalo skin jacket revealing a state of the art twelve shooter revolver that was far more advanced than my six shooter. Only then I realized that I was in trouble.Who will win? The non compos mentis Little Jim, or the writer.

Stay tuned for the next episode of “Ashes and Tears.”

It’s a far-fetched scenario that might become real as you walk down in the streets of Jordan nowadays. Every now and then a fellow Jordanian decides to share his joy with people by pulling out a revolver, a semi automatic, or even a machine gun emptying its clip into Jordanian skies. His brief moment of joy becomes a permanent grief to those who are unfortunate enough to be visited by an accelerating piece of led, ironic yet true.

Just like the good old west, Amman is turning into a Texan state with flying bullets breaking the silence of Jordan’s nights claiming innocent victims and bringing into my mind the western cult classic “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

Directed by George Roy Hill, this 1969 classic western witnessed the successful collaboration  of two rising actors, Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Newman and Redford always manage to spice up any film they co-star through their charismatic and camera appeal persona that was one of the reasons that made the two-hour film a row model for the upcoming new western genres.

The movie marked the birth of a new genre, both in context and cinematography for it offered a more realistic and grim look at the life of two renowned outlaws, through different techniques like the sepia sequence found at the intro and the finale where the freeze-frame technique was also deployed.

For starters, sepia is the technical term for the color that result from blending brown and yellow—a color that is found in black and white pictures that have been exposed to humidity and light. The shift from colored sequences into sepia toned ones gave the film a feel of authenticity that flowed easily with the rest of the scenes giving it a historical touch since it was actually based on a true story, however, before I run out let me tell you about the film.

Butch Cassidy (Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Redford) are well known bank robbers in the 1900’s America. The two outlaws and their gang after being bored from robbing banks turn to train robbing. After a failed attempt to rob a train, which carried a group of fierce lawmen known as Pinkertons that was formed especially to hunt them down, they decide to leave the land of opportunities to Bolivia.

Newman’s portrayal of the sharp tongued, witty Butch made his role the comic relief in the film, opposite to Redford’s character Sundance who was more fierce and rough.

The scene that made this film a cult by itself and brought into existence the term “Blaze of Glory,” was the famous freeze-frame where Butch and Sundance rush out of the hut to face the entire Bolivian army after being entrapped and wounded. Moments before their immortal rush into glory, the two outlaws pause for a moment planning for the future as if they will simply walk out of the whole thing.

The camera closes in on the actors as they are panting of exhaustion when Butch breaks the tension saying “I got a great idea where we should go next.” Sundance refuses to hear and says “ It is your great ideas that got us here.”

After a humorous conversation and deciding that Australia is the place to go Butch asks Sundance if he saw Lefors out there. Sundance in amazement says, “Lefors, no” to which Butch says “Good, for a moment there, I thought we were in trouble.”

As they burst out to face their destiny, the colored scene freezes and turns to a sepia tone and all you will hear for the next seconds is “Fuego, Fuego,” a Spanish word that means fire that will gradually fade away.

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