Bonnie and Clyde Message Board
Note: the views expressed here are only those of the posters.
Zeke Steiner posts a message on 11/11/2005 5:38:55 PM
Bonnie and Clyde's first conversation, falsely bright and self-conscious, begins the pretense that will trap them. Clyde pretends to be a confident, experienced ex-convict, Bonnie a shy, proud, dignified lady. Their romance, like their legend and the film itself, is based on fantasy and wish fulfillment. Bonnie, frustrated and helpless, without any resources of her own except a pretty face and a willingness to try anything, identifies with someone she and we thinks is powerful and free. Clyde, a petty crook, sexually impotent and deeply unsure of himself, sees her as a beautiful consort and admirer, the woman who can convince them that he is actually what he pretends to be. Through the rest of the film they try, with our approval and complicity, to turn themselves into legends, posing for pictures, reading their press clippings, robbing banks as they think real criminals do. It is touching and charming until the legend begins to overwhelm them and takes on a life of its own. Then they become victims of their own actions. Bonnie can't go home. Clyde is in fact a hunted killer. Buck is shot down ad Blanche arrested. When Clyde tells the farmer, we rob banks, he is frankly awed at what he has become. Yet it is what he, and we, wanted all along. It is significant that he becomes sexually potent after Bonnie writes the poem immortalizing them. She has made the myth real for him, and the world public, newspapers, the movie audience has conspired to help her. Like children, they have been playing at being outlaws. But when they kill and are killed, we are forced to see the ugliness that underlies the fairy tale. Penn makes clear what happened behind the legends. The film creates a legend before our very eyes and shows us, in those sickening moments of violence, how empty it really was. Zeke Steiner
Ezekiel Steiner posts a message on 11/11/2005 5:36:35 PM
THE ENDING - The final scene is conceived as an excruciating ballet of death. The slow-motion photography and extremely realistic detail make it both fascinating and horrible. Fascinating as myth, horrible as life. It is the same double view of them we have from the first shooting, and sums up the ambivalent attitude that we had towards killers who have passed into legend. To make us see that violence can be both beautiful and ugly, both attractive and repulsive, is to make us wary of its deceptive power. Penn leaves them, finally, frozen in time, as befits a legend. He wants us to remember them that way. To destroy the myth would allow us to discount it and be free to believe in others. To let it linger, false and seductive, is to make us examine our need for such things. What audiences remember years later are not the gay times of Bonnie and Clyde, but their bodies tossed like torn dolls by despoiling machine gun fire. Penn is one of the cinema's most mature and complex students of violence. He shows it, he analyzes it, and he proves that it isn't much fun. Ezekiel Steiner
Ezekiel Zeke Steiner posts a message on 11/2/2005 3:38:17 PM
The opening credits of Bonnie and Clyde establish the fragile connection between past and present, reality and myth. In total silence we are shown the innocent family portraits of the Parkers and the Barrows. They resemble our own family albums, and we easily identify with them. These are not queer or abnormal people but just folks like us. Our heroes, for better or worse, will become exact reflections of ourselves. The frozen photographs, distanced from us by their lack of color and their period look, slowly become tinged with red, a suggestion of things to come. We are led gradually from the past into the present, from the already dead to the fictionally living, from our own reality into that of the film. We are allowed to escape, but into a lovely nightmare.