Dear Sam Peckinpah,
In your masterpiece, The Wild Bunch, Don Jose famously states, “We all dream of being a child again, even the worst of us. Perhaps the worst most of all.” Throughout the film, you show the adults joining in on kids’ play and engaging in childlike camaraderie and laughter. Even the violence is elementary. The Wild Bunch opens with a scene that I find graphically horrifying, but cannot help watching: a gang of kids watch a few scorpions being eaten alive by red ants. Similarly, we are mesmerized by the extreme violence as our heroes (scorpions) are swarmed by the rebels (ants). Such scenes attest to the belief that we are all, to some degree, children. Conversely, though, the argument could be made that The Wild Bunch portrays children as miniature adults. The children emulate the violence of the adults after the first big shootout, and a little boy fires the shot that finally does our hero in. Because the kids in the film see so much violence, they become inured to it, much like the movie-going audiences of today. Whether you frame the motif as adults yearning for childhood, or kids striving to be adults, it is clear that your film astutely captures some elements of human nature. We enjoy laughter and friendship and we are fascinated by cruelty, chivalry, and underdogs.
Good night, Mun
P.S. I love saying your name. Peckinpah. Peckinpah. Peckinpah…