THE GOOD: Two Rode Together, John Ford, 1961
A convoy of pioneers have captured a young boy from a group of native Americans and he isn't Indian, but has somehow been raised with them. When they return home an old woman recognises the boy as her son who had been kidnapped years before. That night the old woman cuts the boy loose and he takes the knife and kills her. The boy tries to escape, but knocks over a music box and says his only word of English - "music"- which is heard by a girl who recognises him as her brother. It was the only word he knew as a child. They hang him, though his sister protests. The scene speaks about justice, the brutality of changing someone's identity and the savagery of men. It's also about childhood and the way shared memory comes alive. I saw it when I was under 10. Nowadays, a scene that violent would have been forbidden to me. But through it I got an understanding of justice and humanity. Sometimes it is important to show violence to children - it doesn't mean they will be traumatised.
THE BAD: Zatoichi, Takeshi Kitano, 2003
This is a very different scene. The last scene of Kitano's violent sword film is a ballet sequence. Characters who have been killed throughout the film suddenly come back to life and are there, with Kitano, dancing in the style of Michael Flatley's Lord of The Dance. It's a kind of postmodern commentary but it makes no sense whatsoever. It's not the strangeness of the scene necessarily that irritates me, but the fact that it robs the film of the sincerity what has gone before. It's a kind of distancing motion that suggests that, although we've seen all these different people being chopped up, here they are, alive again. It seems to say that they've been killed for your entertainment, through reminding the audience that it's all virtual and not real, because here are all the dead people back. Violence in a film has to have meaning. The death of a character has to have consequences and resonance. I feel that the film is mocking anyone who has taken seriously or become involved in what has gone before.Reuse content