Posted by: kfugrip | April 6, 2007

1977 and the lost film

Lost is not the correct word, since Killer of Sheep, by Charles Burnett, did exist with all it’s footage intact unlike a film like Greed (Von Stroheim). The major obstacle, as I understand it, in this movie being shown theatrically wasn’t it’s artistic merit or commercial appeal, it was the music rights.

Filmed in 1977 as Charles Burnett’s thesis film at UCLA, Killer of Sheep concerns a family living in Watts and trying to live in a climate of crime a poverty that makes if difficult to survive. Shot on 16mm in black and white, and using many non-actors, the film is a powerful glimpse of life that I wish all movies could achieve. I believe that art’s job is to hold a mirror up to our lives and our experiences and that seeing that image will help us understand and grow. Killer of Sheep fills all these requirements.

Understated and honest performances are the backbone of the picture. I commented to my brother, whom I dragged to the opening day show at IFC Center, that it was like someone filmed a documentary of these people living. The make mistakes, they feel pain, and they love each other.

I highly recommend this movie to any potential film makers out there, and the “normal” movie watcher as well.

5 stars.

And thank you Charles Burnett.


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