Quick recap: An American and his English wife move back to her childhood town where everyone is out to get them. It’s seriously messed up.
Fun(?) fact: Dustin Hoffman says he only took the role for the money. Not being a fan of violence (most people aren’t, buddy), in the scene where Hoffman beats a guy to death on the floor, he instead used coconuts to hit. You can see bits of it flying around in the movie during that scene.
My thoughts: Oh, boy. At first glance, this is just a very violent movie. When I finished it the other night, I was ready to give it a 1/5 because it made me so uncomfortable. The more I thought about it, though, the more Straw Dogs began to remind me of A Clockwork Orange, another seemingly senseless violent movie that actually has a deeper meaning.
So, first of all, I suppose I should start with the concept of a ‘straw dog’. Straw dogs were ceremonial objects in Ancient China, but the reference in this film comes from an old text that says, ‘Heaven and Earth are heartless / treating creatures like straw dogs’. So I guess that would make the characters David and Amy the straw dogs? Honestly, the whole thing is beyond my ability of thinking. What I got from the movie is that violence is not always personal, it just happens and as David showed in the end, violence is in all of us. What a fun lesson!
The beginning of Straw Dogs confused me because the editing was so weird. It would jump to David and Amy about to have sex and then in the very next scene, she is crying in his office after he has said something to hurt her feelings. It made everything seem so turned around and off-putting, which is exactly what director Sam Peckinpah wanted the viewer to feel. And as for that rape scene most people know this movie by, I think it’s vitally important to discuss, since it has become a controversial issue lately. Rape has always seemed black and white to me but then in watching Straw Dogs, I get the grey line- what if a woman consents at first, sends mixed signals, or appears to enjoy herself? It’s still rape and there is still a crime being committed, yet some people feel that it legitimizes it in some way, as if there is only one kind of rape to be had.
Final review: 4/5, but grudgingly. Also, there’s a dead cat so I’m not giving it a full 5.
Up next: The House is Black