[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B001E6Q0VW][/pullquote] Its 1971 and the US is in great turmoil. Domestically, Americans of different races are at war “ The Civil Rights Movement having be on going for over a decade now is heading towards its end. On an international front, The Vietnam War has begun and the US have deployed thousands of men to fight against the Viet Cong. Millions of Americans protested the US involvement, major unrest was experienced throughout the 50 states. Then along comes a film about a couple, David and Amy (Dustin Hoffman and Susan George) who have had enough with the constant threat of violence and mutiny in the US and decide to move to Amy’s home town Wakely, England. A quiet southern town in which village life is undisrupted and all previous worries can be forgotten, Straw Dogs (1971) unleashes that mayhem that the couple try to avoid.
It is immediately noticeable that the laid back and classy style the couple have is the polar opposite of every villager. Women, men, girls and boys are all fascinated by the two when arriving in town, maybe because they have never ventured out of that particular area. In comparison to the remake these ˜hick’ villagers are not slow or thick, but creepy and perverted. The unrefined look of the film only adds to the backward attitude that resonates from the feature.
With the idea of living in a farm house, isolated from everyone, the couple soon realise that employing Amy’s old flame Charlie and his pals to work on their barn may have been the wrong move. They seem friendly and harmless at first but don’t judge a book by its cover. The tension between the characters is palpable from the first moment all feature in a scene together. The English men who are disturbing and wayward prove to intimidate and scare the new comers, hoping to get them to leave town, or at least push them to breaking point. The tension between the couple is also evident, not only do they seem to have a childish relationship, they don’t seem to have a bond you expect a married couple to have or maybe this is just my opinion. The saying opposites attract may not work in this case. Hoffman’s fun yet slightly uptight character seems to become exasperated with Amy the free thinking yet childish adult.
As Amy begins to feel vulnerable around Charlie and co.she stops wearing sparse clothing (for the 70s) and dons a bra, but having harassed and entered their house without permission, the men step up their tactics. Charlie, Del Henney, plays foul and forces his way into Amy and David’s’ home, in a very uncomfortable scene. When watching this particular part and thinking back to when this was made, I see their issues with banning it. The 70s was meant to be a progressive era compared to the previous decades. However with everything that was happening in the US at that time, Hollywood may have thought censoring provocative films and showing positive ones was the way forward. Susan George takes the role with both hands and throws everything she has into the attack scene. Confusion takes over her as she doesn’t know how to respond to his advances and then un-adulterated horror as the situation spirals out of control. It was upsetting and unexpectedly more graphic than the re-make.
The film climaxes with realistic violence, resulting from Charlie’s gang trying to get to the mentally handicapped man, Henry, who is involved with a young teens disappearance and now in their home. Dustin Hoffman’s character steps out of his comfort zone, taking on the men now trying to fight their way into his home. His presence on screen is demanding and chillingly calm, I don’t know if his psychopathic switch just tripped but he got pleasure from taking on these unrelenting men. His smile says it all as he drives away from the house, Hoffman can always be relied on to perform to task.
The film “ obviously not having the same budget as Hollywood blockbusters now or a budget that other films would have had during that era “ was well made. The setting of rural England, despite being dreary, worked well. Life is slow and the drive of the people living in the town was non-existent.