I’ve had this film for sometime and never got around to watching Natural Born Killers (1994) which left me speechless, not because of the visceral violence that played throughout the film about a killer couple who left victims in their wake. It was more the visual style that has left me undecided as to really sum up this film. That above all else is what I will remember this film for. Very much a product of the mid 1990’s and the MTV generation that came before that has influenced this feature-length music video (without the single music track).
Entering a world where the real world was replaced by found and archive footage creating something I see now more in documentaries and advertisements now, as if the style has calmed down and found it’s place. Definitely a product of it’s time that has influenced todays culture. From random pieces of footage from the 1950’s to classic films and everything in between. Popular culture is painting it’s on view of the world on us.
A world that has more or less stayed with us as we follow Mickey and Mallory Knox (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) who are one and the same person, created by similar destructive childhoods that would eventually lead their paths to cross. What they both is not just a passion for each other but a passion for violence and death. Becoming cathartic to take the life of another away with little thought. It’s not as theatrical as Bronson (2008) or as gratuitous as Quentin Tarantino, instead its more cartoonish, as if what happens has no effect except the fear it creates in that world. We become numb to this, just waiting for the next kill with anticipation from the anti-heroes.
Moving away from the main plot to focus on the main idea that is explored, the sensationalist nature of the media, taking the form of Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.) with an odd Australian accent, with a drive to get something out for the masses of idiots as he put them to watch. His subject being criminals in a sexed up version of Crimewatch which probably doesn’t even help to solve crimes. Instead as we saw create a media hype around the Knox couple who become heroes for putting the middle finger up to decent society going driving across America leaving bloodshed in their wake. Culminating in a live post Super Bowl interview with the now incarcerated Mickey who uses this opportunity to his advantage. Not so bothered by the glory of the ratings as Gale is, using it as a platform and a chance to escape. Leaving a prison riot behind him and his wife.
The couple aren’t just blind killers, they are rounded characters with flaws which makes them more engaging in that world. Both coming from broken/abusive family backgrounds. You could say they are a product of their childhood (which we all are) however they act on these impulses not resolving the issues that do great harm. They are intelligent people, not just dumb and dangerous, far worse intelligent and dangerous leaning on delusional. It’s Mallory who is the conscience of the couple, who was not a natural killer, instead wrapped up in this world after her family is killed. She has no choice but to adapt and enjoy her new life, always conflicted by a moral compass that can get in the way.
The film itself has one, as misguided as it may look at times, we see a broken America, corrupted by the media for stories and profit, airtime and audience numbers. Everything that is wrong with capitalism to the extreme, as two people break free of the American way of life on the open road to live their own lives. Matched with a visual style that paints a very different world, heavily informed by the media world that has well and truly become one with modern life. Creating a culture of notoriety of dangerous criminals, seen more as heroes rather than people to be feared. I think to really understand the film as one complete piece another watch is in order to bring all the parts together from domestic violence, the intrusion of the media and popular culture, placed in the Deep South, seen a backward and laughable part of the United States, mocked by the rest of the country. Here it’s to be feared and admired, making its own mark.
- Natural Born Killers (1994) (antifilmschoolsite.wordpress.com)
- Natural Born Killers (1994) And What it Achieves (iceboxmovies.blogspot.co.uk)
- Natural Born Killers (1994) (filmconnoisseur.blogspot.co.uk)
May 7, 2014 | Categories: Films | Tags: Bronson, Crimewatch, Deep South, Juliette Lewis, MTV, Natural Born Killers, Quentin Tarantino, Ratings, Review, Robert Downey Jr, Superbowl, Tim Neath, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson | 4 Comments