Social and Political Critique and Commentary in Bonnie and Clyde

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Social and political critique and commentary in Bonnie and Clyde

“The fact that the story is set 35 years ago doesn't mean a thing. It had to be set sometime. But it was made now and it's about us.” – Roger Ebert 1

At the time of its release in 1967, Bonnie and Clyde was the subject of intense debate. While the American film critic Roger Ebert hailed it as a milestone in American moviemaking, Bosley Crowther, another critic, referred to it as “a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick

Comedy”. 2 It was called the sleeper hit of the decade, and gained extreme notoriety for its breakage of traditional cinematic taboos, in that it showed rather explicitly both sex and especially, raw and brutal violence. It greatly surprised both the audience and Hollywood itself, and has since its release been labelled as both a landmark film and as an iconic masterpiece of cinema.

[NB on it’s vs. its. It’s = short for “it is”. Read the sentence through – if “it is” doesn’t fit then you mean “its” not “it’s”]

But why did it cause such a stir, and why did it become such a massive hit especially among the younger generations of the audience? Well, As Roger Ebert wrote in his review for the movie, even though the story of the film was set 35 years earlier (than 1967), Bonnie and Clyde was in fact truly about the 1960’s America. The film dealt with themes and engaged with social and political issues that strongly marked and defined the America of the time and struck a chord with the people living in America in the 1960’s.

On the surface, Bonnie and Clyde, directed by Arthur Pen and co-written by David Newman and Robert Benton, might seem to be just another love on the run, individual versus institution film, a kind of film rather common duri...

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...s. Arthur Penn created a film not about them, but about us, and that’s truly what makes Bonnie and Clyde such a great film.

References:

1. Ebert, Roger. Review of Bonnie and Clyde. Originally published in the Chicago Sun Times, September 25, 1967.

2. Crowther, Bosley. Review of Bonnie and Clyde. Originally published in the New York Times, April 14, 1967.

3. Eisenstein, Sergei. Battleship Potemkin (1925) Mosfilm.

4. Mazzucco, Thomas. Bonnie and Clyde. Reel American History. Last edited December 2009. Link to website: http://digital.lib.lehigh.edu/trial/reels/films/list/1_63_9

A) Referring to Friedman, Lester D. Bonnie and Clyde (2001) British Film Institute.

5. Kanfer, Stefan. The Shock of Freedom in Films. Originally published in Time Magazine, December 8, 1967.

6. Kanfer, Stefan. The Shock of Freedom in Films.

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