Figures in a Landscape (1970) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: Two escapees (Robert Shaw and Malcolm McDowell) are on the run in an unspecified but seemingly Latin-American country. Everywhere they go they are observed and hounded by a menacing black helicopter. Written by Jonathon Dabell Runtime: 110 min Release Date: 12 Nov 1970
In a brief encounter with Malcolm McDowell, upon the mention of this particular 1970 film he rolled his eyes in amazement that such an obscure cinematic curio would be remembered? and spoke bluntly of his working stint with Robert Shaw – how it was a grueling four month shoot since the very unpredictable actor had a penchant for the bottle Then McDowell finished with: "But I loved him." Well this sort of love/hate relationship exists between Shaw's coldblooded, experienced MacConnachie and McDowell's naïve yet wily young Ansell two escaped convicts on the run in an <more>
unnamed country. The first thirty minutes have both characters with hands tied behind their backs as they trudge up and down craggy mountainsides like desperate billygoats while a helicopter described by MacConnachie as "the black skeleton" soars above: playing a hectic game of cat and mice.Whether hiding behind rocks, entering stealthy into villages, tramping through soldier-saturated paddies or shooting up military compounds, the two "figures" always return to their match against the antagonist copter – more of a meddling crow than bird of prey.The Arial shots are as gorgeous as the picturesque landscape; the edgy violin score is reminiscent of future suspense films THE FRENCH CONNECTION or THE EXORCIST; and the performances by both now iconic cult favorites are topnotch: Shaw with a cunning edge while McDowell slowly loses his sanity.The actors really shine during sporadic pockets of downtime: The veteran either goading the youngster into becoming more vicious or sharing sullen memories of his dead wife. All timed neatly with the intense action sequences: built around a taut climate of primal perseverance by two men who've become human animals to survive against a metallic one.For More Reviews: www.cultfilmfreaks.com
existential chase film, largely forgotten, but worth a look. (by raegan_butcher)
FIGURES IN A LANDSCAPE is interesting for a lot of reasons: it was directed by Joseph Losey,it stars a very young Malcolm McDowell and it boasts a script by co-star Robert Shaw.The set-up is very existential: 2 men are pursued by a mysterious black helicopter over a rough, desert terrain. We never learn the reasons for any of this or even where it is taking place.The atmosphere of dread is kept at a high level thru-out.Everything about the film is as stripped to the basics as the title suggests. The men are never given much more than the briefest of backgrounds. But it is precisely this <more>
quality of mystery that gives the film its main points of interest. I would certainly like to be able to see it on a larger screen. The helicopter photography is very impressive and the shots of the two figures traversing the inhospitable terrain are striking.Robert Shaw gives a ferocious performance. Malcolm McDowell's part requires him to be more subdued but he is capable and provides the film's main sympathetic character.
I spent quite a few pennies to get my hands on this film as it was consigned to oblivion after its brief cinematic release some 35 years ago, and it was money well spent. They certainly don't make them like this anymore. From the off you're thrown into this situation with Shaw and McDowell as two convicts on the run and being pursued by a menacing black helicopter through hostile, mountainous terrain. The aerial cinematography is breathtaking at times, more real than anything you see on the silver screen today, and quite frightening too. The chase becomes personal, with one character <more>
hell-bent on destroying the enemy and the other just wanting to escape. It's compellingly brilliant - beautifully shot, in most parts, and well acted. There are some lengthy sequences which the majority of todays directors, and actors, would struggle to pull off without CGI. It does have flaws, most films do, but there are enough positives here and it's a shame it ended up as another of those 'lost' films. Okay we don't find out where they are, although it was shot in Spain, or what crimes they have committed, so what? It's a bloody good film, though I can't help but think, what a film it could have been.
The viewer is presented with two characters. These characters are on the run, from a black helicopter that keeps chasing after them. The viewer is not told what there crime is, or if they have committed any crime. They both must fight their way through a rocky, rough, dry desert region. All the viewer gets is little stories from each of these men. We find out about children, a wife, former girlfriends, etc. The men struggle to reach a safe place, almost driving themselves crazy, believing that this is possible. This film is not available on video or disc, and the TV print runs shorter than <more>
110 minutes. There may be a large important part of this film missing. Maybe one day it will be released on tape and disc so that a wider audience can see it. This film really is a good piece of film making.
Alternately baffling, shocking and irritating, this film is remarkable in a lot of ways. It shows that Malcolm McDowell is a really talented actor who went to waste after being typecast as a sleazebag; he never got any decent roles after that.What's unusual about this film is that we are never given more than scant information about who these guys are, why they are running and from whom, or where on earth this is all supposed to be taking place.You might think that all this, plus the almost nonexistent plot would make this film supremely forgettable, but this is far from the case. My only <more>
complaints were that Robert Shaw's character kept bursting into screaming and cackling fits at inappropriate times and the ending, for me, almost ruined the whole thing. Why did Mac feel he had to try to finish off the helicopter just when he had finally reached safety? Other than that, this is an extraordinary film. I would have given it a 9 except for the above issues.