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by Michael Frierson

Midway through the final shoot out in the Wild Bunch, one of Pike’s gang, Lyle Gorch (Warren Oates) gains control of the enemy’s machine gun, and turns it first on some Mexican soldiers on the a roof top, then on some soldiers attacking through an arched wall.

This entire moment in the fight take :14 seconds, and is shown in 19 shots (average shot length .73 seconds).

There are two larger sections of the action: Lyle machine gunning the men on the roof and then turning the gun on those attaching through the arch. Both sections are extended by slow motion, in that the target of Lyle’s weapon is always shown in slow motion, while all the shots of Lyle firing the gun remain at regular speed. More strikingly, once we see a Mexican soldier hit, and begin to fall off the roof, Peckinpah moves on to the action in the arch before the falling soldier ever gets to the ground.

The action of Lyle firing the machine gun has to quickly turn towards the arches before the fall completes, and breaking the “falling shot” into three clips, a motif used in the film’s first gunfight, adds to the elastic quality of time in the scene.

The Wild Bunch: Final Shootout (:14 excerpt, Lyle on the machine gun)

Midway through the final shoot out, one of Pike’s gang, Lyle Gorch (Warren Oates) gains control of the enemy’s machine gun, and turns it first on some Mexican soldiers on the a roof top, then on some soldiers attacking through an arched wall.

from The Wild Bunch (1969)
Creator: Sam Peckinpah
Distributor: Warner Brothers-Seven Arts
Posted by Michael Frierson
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