Furious and Furiouser

Girlfriends introduction and post-screening discussion with David Pendleton, Athina Tsangari and Claudia Weill. ©Harvard Film Archive

For me, Hollywood no longer exists. It’s past history.

That was Sam Peckinpah’s announcement to a journalist in 1974. As it happens, he was referring specifically to the shooting of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, then underway in Mexico, with an all-Mexican crew: far, far away from studio execs and craft unions alike. But an introduction needs a metaphor, and that’s the one we’re going to use. Peckinpah’s movies were pure Furious Cinema. Emotionally violent even before the bullets start flying. Renegade. Fading heroes who lash out in a violent spasm at the system that has crushed them.

The 1970s is paradoxically considered the artistic acme of Hollywood cinema and also the decade in which Hollywood was blown to pieces with a train car full of dynamite. For roughly a decade (until they died in a hail of slow-motion gunfire? May have lost control of the metaphor here), filmmakers worldwide seized control of the means of production, and the so-called mainstream, and created an utterly unique body of utterly maverick cinema. Looking for a common mission statement from these multinational anarchists is, frankly, a sucker’s game. What they shared was this: they knew what a “proper genre film” was supposed to be, and they knew that they weren’t gonna go down like that; if they went down, they were gonna go down fighting.

But what do these films—from France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Japan, the USSR, and from both Highest and Lowest Hollywood itself—actually have in common with one another? Not much. Just that they are all fucking amazing; they were all unapologetically iconoclastic; they were made in the same ten-year resistant parenthesis of human history, the only one in recent memory; and they were all too furious to let the future fuck them before they fucked it first.– Athina Rachel Tsangari, Radcliffe-Harvard Film Study Center Fellow/David & Roberta Logie Fellow and Guest HFA Programmer

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