Have you ever been on an acid Western trip?
A sub-genre of the Western film that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, the acid Western combines the philosophical ambitions of critically acclaimed films with the excesses of the “Spaghetti” Westerns and the outlook of the 1960s counter-culture. Works from this oft-overlooked and undervalued genre subvert conventions by showing anarchy and madness at the heart of white America, and often include a fair pinch of warped spiritualism and Pythonesque black humour.
This October, Meridian Space will be screening some of the best acid Westerns ever made.
– Sun 10/5: The Shooting (1967)
– Thur 10/9: The Wild Bunch (1969)
– Sun 10/12: El Topo (1970)
– Thur 10/16: Zachariah (1971)
– Sun 10/19: Dead Man (1995)
All films will start promptly at 7:00 p.m. Entry is free.
Sun 10/5: The Shooting
Two men are hired by a mysterious woman to accompany her to a town located many miles across the desert. During their journey, they are closely tracked by a black-clad gunslinger who seems intent on killing all of them. Starring Jack Nicholson and Warren Oates, this existential Western shot on a fistful of dollars is an all-time great.
Thur 10/9: The Wild Bunch
Directed by Sam Peckinpah, 1969
With William Holden, Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson and Warren Oates
On the Texas-Mexico border, an aging outlaw gang struggles to survive in the changing “modern” world of 1913… Beginning and ending with two of the bloodiest battles in screen history, Sam Peckinpah’s classic revisionist Western ruthlessly takes apart the myths of the West. Released in the late ’60s discord over Vietnam, in the wake of the controversial Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and the brutal “spaghetti Westerns” of Sergio Leone, The Wild Bunch garnered many awards for its screenplay, music and cinematography.
Sun 10/12: El Topo
Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1970
With Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Mara Lorenzi and others
A violent, black-clad gunfighter, accompanied by his naked son, sets off on a murderous mission to challenge four Zen masters of gunfighting, and learns from each of them a Great Lesson before they die. A bizarre, allegorical Western which happily mixes Christian symbolism and Eastern philosophy.
Thur 10/16: Zachariah
Directed by George Englund, 1971
With John Rubinstein and Don Johnson
Matthew and Zachariah are two friends who go on the run. Together and separately they explore life as outlaws, at first enjoying and later being repelled by the reckless violence involved in gunfighting, bank robbing, and the other kinds of mayhem which come from the outlaw life. Along the way, they meet up with guides and gangs of various kinds, from a troupe of traveling, bank-robbing musicians (Country Joe and the Fish), to the greatest gunfighter in the world… A surrealistic adaptation of Hermann Hesse’s novel Siddhartha as a musical Western.
Sun 10/19: Dead Man
Directed by Jim Jarmush, 1995
With Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Billy Bob Thornton, Iggy Pop, Robert Mitchum, and others
As he arrives to the frontier company town of Machine to assume a promised job, William Blake, a law-abiding accountant from Cleveland, discovers that his job has been taken and is chased out of town. Penniless and wounded, Blake meets Nobody, an American Indian who decides he is a reincarnation of the poet William Blake. Chased by bounty hunters, they flee across the northern wilderness, towards the Pacific Ocean.
Johnny Depp, Iggy Pop, Billy Bob Thornton and Robert Mitchum star in this haunting, psychedelic Western by Jim Jarmush, shot in black-and-white and blessed with an extraordinary guitar soundtrack by Neil Young.