Shot through the Heart

        Despite all the bloodshed, the humanity in the film Bonnie and Clyde (1967), as directed by Arthur Penn, becomes most evident when we find ourselves indeed cheering for the villains. Through strategically placed bits of comedic relief and excellent acting, the graphic violence that dominates this film becomes a little easier to swallow. This film, upon its release, at once signaled a change in the way all subsequent films of gore would be produced. Of course, in consideration of today's taste for blood, the classic Bonnie and Clyde has come to appear a bit on the soft side.

        Why was this film so significant in the history of the cinema? Like so many historical works of art that have survived the wear of time, the Bonnie and Clyde bore a wealth of concern for the decade in which it was produced--the sixties. Most will recall the proliferation of irreverence that sprung from within a growing number of the socially aware. In fact, this film was irreverent. The film signaled a change in the perception of issues of morality, the shift from the black and white view of right and wrong that dominated the nineteen-fifties to the gray areas that were ever increasing throughout the sixties and even till this day. The film compared the feelings of disenfranchisement of Americans toward their political leaders during the Vietnam Era and Social Rights Movement to that of Americans disenfranchisement with political leaders during the Great Depression. The film, as far as I know, provides a fairly accurate historical rendering of the Thirties, but one will surely notice that the coiffures of the characters in the film, especially those of Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty), to a great extent resemble styles that were very popular during the Sixties.

        Most likely, the director Arthur Penn was hoping that the contemporary audience of his time would be able to better relate to the characters despite the fact that they were a violent bank robbing gang.

John Couris

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