Straw Dogs

Sometimes a man is forced to defend his honor.

Drama Thriller
116 min     7.148     1971     United Kingdom


David Sumner, a mild-mannered academic from the United States, marries Amy, an Englishwoman. In order to escape a hectic stateside lifestyle, David and his wife relocate to the small town in rural Cornwall where Amy was raised. There, David is ostracized by the brutish men of the village, including Amy's old flame, Charlie. Eventually the taunts escalate, and two of the locals rape Amy. This sexual assault awakes a shockingly violent side of David.


John Chard wrote:
This is where I live. This is me. I will not allow violence against this house. Straw Dogs is directed by Sam Peknipah and Peckinpah co-adapts to screen play with David Zelag Goodman from the novel "The Siege of Trencher's Farm" written by Gordon Williams. It stars Dustin Hoffman, Susan George, Peter Vaughan, T.P. McKenna, Del Henney and Ken Hutchison. Music is by Jerry Fielding and cinematography by John Coquillon. A young American maths teacher and his English wife move to the rural English village where she was raised and face increasingly vicious harassment from the locals... One of Peckinpah's masterpieces (yes you can have more than one), Straw Dogs is an uncompromising dissection of violence, machismo and boundary pushing of the human condition. Controversy around the film reigned supreme upon release (and long into the dead part of the video nasty era 1980s), and in fact still today it is still pored over as an abject lesson in audience manipulation. For a s the power struggle between a husband and wife against their abusers reaches boiling point, ultra violence and sexual assault attacks the viewer's senses. Peckinpah is in his pomp here, making us observers complicit in the ultimate cynical premise. It's not so much that violence begets violence, but that a mild mannered man has to resort to extreme violence - thus repelling his once firm code of morals - in order to defend what should in fact be his right. Hoffman is excellent, layering the character arc to perfection, while George as his wife is sexually suggestive, spiteful and positively superb in bringing to vivid life such a challenging characterisation. As the director (see what he could do when not pestered by studio execs) pulls the audience's strings, and Fielding lays a haunting musical score over proceedings (Oscar Nominated), we have been privy to one of the best and most caustic observations of violence put on the screen. 10/10