Thursday, 17 March 2016

Blue (1968)

Blue/Azul (Terence Stamp) has been raised by Mexican bandits after the murder of his parents when he was five years old. The bandit leader raises him as one of his own and Blue takes part in their murdering and pillaging. When the bandits decide to raid a town on the American side of the river Blue is confronted by his past. After rescuing the daughter of the local doctor from one of the bandits, Blue is taken in by them, and tries to renounce his past.

Upon it's release Blue was panned by the critics, and most hold the same view today, and I really do not understand why! I loved it!

Like most films made in the mid 60s Blue is something of a revisionist Western. It has a darker thread running through it than the majority of Westerns, and has more complex characters, Blue is definitely an anti-hero, who goes through a complex redemption during the course of the film. It is also grittier and more realistic than some Westerns (for example, the injured tend to be really injured and are unable to go on fighting spectacularly!).

Directed by Silvio Narizzano and with a cast that includes Karl Malden and Joanna Pettet Blue is a thought provoking film. Visually it is quite beautiful, although alas my dodgy screen caps don't really do it justice!

Pettet's character, Joanne, is a major catalyst not just for the general plot line, but also for Blue himself. As a character she breaks down some of the traditional boundaries put on women in Western films. She is strong, caring, forgiving, and with a great sense of justice. She is able to look past what other people see and find good. 
Blue is generally silent, his actions speak louder than his words. Stamp doesn't speak until about 40 minutes into the film but his face portrays his thoughts. As he is further confronted by the settlers way of life Blue begins to remember things. The scene in which he bashes away at the piano is the first moment he lets his guard down and it becomes evident that there is something more to him than just a lawless bandit. Upon his initial arrival at the farm he is almost mute, and it is hard to know if this is through spite, or because he simply finds it hard to speak his thoughts. After all he speaks little with the bandits. When he wishes to stay with Joanne and her father, he is unable to tell them, he simply begins ploughing their field, and Joanne comes to the realisation that this is his way of talking. As he and Joanne fall for each other, he opens up more, he reveals his past and it becomes evident that the death's of his parents still impact him. And there seems to be a lost element to Blue, one that belongs neither to the settlers or the Mexicans, after all he admits that Blue is not even his real name, and it remains unknown if he remembers his real name or not. In his final confrontations with his bandit father, and even through his love for Joanne, Blue is constantly torn between the two warring parts of himself, the past and the present, and throughout the film he is in a constant struggle between wanting to change and believing he is not able to change. I thought Stamp did a wonderful job of portraying Blue, roguish and tender at the same time. 
Blue is an underrated gem of a film and I wish more people could appreciate it! 


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