“The Beguiled” Review

23 July, 2017

Year of Release: 1971
Director: 
Don Siegel
Screenwriters: 
Albert Maltz, Irene Kamp
Director of Photography: 
Bruce Surtees
Cast: 
Clint Eastwood, Geraldine Page, Elizabeth Hartman

Synopsis: Set during the American Civil War, The Beguiled tells the story of an injured soldier who stumbles across a hidden haven where a group of women nurse him back to health. As his wounds begin to heal and the girls further their sexual advances, the young man is led into an inescapable cycle of despair where a grisly fate awaits him.

The Beguiled Review:

Frantically adapted and a little too risqué to fit the mould of a breezy Sunday afternoon movie, “The Beguiled” feigns the intentions of a chaste period melodrama but its tone is grossly indicative of a lost era in cinema. Creepily suggestive from the moment Clint Eastwood locks lips with a prepubescent girl, this dated adaptation adds a layer to its story that’s impossible to recapture in a contemporary setting and its dealing with the realities of domestic enslavement extends far beyond the capture of a wounded deserter, giving the film a much tougher position than Sofia Coppola’s recent rehash as it builds up to its fatal finale.

When placed in direct comparison with Coppola’s sophisticated rewrite, “The Beguiled” feels like the utterly berserk companion piece to a handsomely shot thriller yet its relationship with the source material gives it an edge that can only be found within the commotion of the early 1970s. Lacking subtlety and acutely aware of Clint Eastwood’s lack of sexual allure, the film capitalises on the freedoms of a liberated time period, making sense of later happenings through orgies, nudity, and incest while fantasised lesbian kisses and underage implications refuse to shield viewers from the graphic nature of the story’s preceding context.

Harsh where Coppola’s version is soft, “The Beguiled” acknowledges the tension between its characters through action rather than implication, better explaining the hysterical escalation of events with scenes of blackmail and jealous seduction rather than simply forcing viewers to fill in the gaps between a momentary glance or a convenient backstory. Creating visual and aural juxtapositions as Eastwood reveals the dramatic tale of his desertion, Don Siegel rejects the ambiguity of an implied screenplay, exposing a character’s lies through stark replays and making no mistake about the strong survival instinct that would drive a man to seek solace in such an uncertain and ultimately heinous setting.

 

   

Summary
Review Date
Movie
The Beguiled
Rating
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