Saturday, November 13, 2010

How I Am, In Some Ways, Like Etta

But not in any of the good ways. Not in the young-Robert Redford sneaks into my bedroom and makes me undress at gunpoint sort of way. Incidentally, is this the scene that spawned similar bedroom break-ins in Untamed Heart and Twilight? But better, of course. The menace is never wholly erased from either of these characters, especially in that scene. But back to me and Etta. I usually turn this off when they head to Bolivia. I don't want to watch them die, either, and I remembered it being mostly strangely scored montages. And there is some of that. But the melancholy and loss that is only hinted at in the first half ("You're going to die. Bloody. You just pick where.") totally suffuses the Bolivia scenes. There's a sort of desperation to all the laughing and drinking and spectacular hats. Very whistling through a graveyard. But oh, how I do love the first hour of this movie. I love the almost imperceptible transition from sepia film to the sun-drenched Utah scenes. I love the rapport between these characters. I love the chase scene. But the sadness is just as much a part of this story as the fun. These are men who the times are outpacing. And though it is a bit of a fantasy version of the West, it still bites. So I'm glad I watched all of it again, for the first time in years. Nat, what do you make of the relationship between Etta and Butch?

1 comment:

  1. You, and Etta, are smarter than me. I ALWAYS forget that they die. Always. So I get smacked with it when Etta leaves Bolivia because I try to pretend it's not going to happen when I get hints of it earlier. But Etta leaving is the death knell. *Sigh*

    I think the Butch and Etta relationship is kind of simple and lovely. It seems as if they both know they could have "had a go" (per Robert Duvall's character in Get Low) but they also know that Etta and Sundance are meant to be together and each knows and loves the other's place in Sundance's life. It seems the sort of relationship that if Sundance had died and Butch survived, Etta and Butch might have gotten together because they both knew and loved Sundance and could keep him alive to some degree by being together. But that may also be my romanticizing the whole thing.

    And Butch is too busy with Cloris Leachman in the brothel ;)