Killer of Sheep
Killer of Sheep
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Synopsis

This box set includes the first two features and three short films directed by acclaimed African-American filmmaker Charles Burnett. The centerpiece is his rediscovered UCLA student film Killer of Sheep (1977, 80 mins.), chosen for the National Film Registry in 1990 and now revered as "an American masterpiece, independent to the bone" (Manohla Dargis, N.Y. Times). While not photographing packs of children at play in the rubble of South Central L.A., the black-and-white film details the social and psychological hardships experienced by the unlikely protagonist, Stan. He's a depressed slaughterhouse worker/family man growing increasingly numb, and Burnett captures the sadness, sweetness, and humor of his life with improvised lyrical grace and neorealist grit. My Brother's Wedding (1983/2007, 81/110 mins.) was rushed to a festival before the director's final cut in 1983, when it received lackluster reviews and was shelved. Re-edited decades later by Burnett, the restored picture shows the crushing and comedic situations that arise when Pierce Mundy chooses between attending the funeral of a friend or the wedding of his brother to an upper-middle-class black woman. Burnett's early short Several Friends (1969, 23 mins.) is another naturally funny and politicized slice-of-life shot in South Central. Also included is The Horse (1973, 13 mins.), which the director describes as a "kind of allegory about the South." Lastly, in When It Rains (1995, 13 mins.), an urban musician spends a day searching for rent money for a mother and her child, amounting to what Chicago Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum calls as "a near miracle."

Reviews of 'Killer of Sheep'

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  | Bill#10

You receive a sensitivity about the film especially if your childhood had been spent largely outdoors; another if vanquished architecture and the growing limitations of life, history and job availability realized by adults contemporaneously ignited a kind of sadness seemingly rescued by different types of "noise". Twenty years afterwards, the institutions want "sheep" to lose weight.

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  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
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  | jrderr#1

This is Charles Burnett's first full length film and it is every bit as good as everyone says it is. When I watched this I really felt like I had experienced something instead of just watching a movie. The film has little plot or dialogue but Burnett's images will stay with you for days.

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  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
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  | Theodore#3

Amazing and poetic look at 70's California- black and white film as well as an amazing soundtrack including words by Paul Robeson, set this firmly in a time and place while raising a whole slew of questions about what that time and place meant.

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