The Wild Bunch is a 1969 action film. One of the most controversial movies of that era because of its graphic imagery & brute violence. The Wild Bunch filming locations are entirely in Mexico. Some of the fictional towns in the movie are Mexico’s oldest towns. The Wild Bunch, as it suggests, is about a group of thugs of the same name. The movie follows the rivalry between the wild bunch & Mexican rebels, which leads to tons of gun fights and casualties.
Pike Bishop is the leader of the Bunch. Although they are the main focus of the film, their fate is tragic. Sam Peckinpah, famous for graphic portrayals in his films, leaves no stone unturned with this one as well. Apart from the gruesome imagery, the cinematography of this film is also great. Despite being shot in the 60s, this movie revolutionizes smooth cuts, multiple camera angles & viewpoints.
The Wild Bunch Filming Location
Sticking with the theme of Mexican rebels, the movie filming took place in Mexico. The landscapes in Mexico give the perfect dusky, rebellious vibes to the film. Moreover, the fictional town ‘Starbuck’ or San Rafael is a real Mexican town, Parras. It is not only a major film location but also one of the oldest towns in Mexico.
The scene where Pike takes down a buck to “put him out of his misery” is shot at Duranzo Arroyo, Torreon. It is also the location where the hunters of the Bunch take a night halt. Wild Bunch filming locations are spread all around Mexico. Some of the cities include Saltillo, Bavispe, and Bacanora, amongst others.
The location of the village of a member of the bunch, Angel, is El Rincon del Motero. Apart from places, the famous river Rio Nazas is also used in a lot of scenes throughout the film. Especially the scene where the bridge blows up.
What is the ‘The Wild Bunch’ Filming About?
The movie is about power play. Two gangs fighting for power, trying to take each other down. Pike Bishop decides to go on his last mission before retiring, which is robbing a railroad bank. But out of nowhere, Pike and his men are ambushed by his former partner, Deke Thornton. Such a twist in the plot! Now, this gives Thornton an upper hand & poses a threat to Pike’s power.
Escaping the ambush, they end up in a village to take refuge. However, the town leader, general Mapache, is brutal & poses a threat to them. Pike and his men crack a deal with Mapache, but he double-crosses them. As the story progresses, Pike and his men get into the thick of trouble.
When a member of the Bunch, Angel, is taken by the enemy, the gang tries to free him. Despite agreeing to make a deal, Mapache cuts Angel’s throat. In the end, Pike and his men are massacred with a machine gun.
The Cast of ‘The Wild Bunch’
William Holden plays the leader of Wild Bunch, Pike Bishop. The poor member of the Bunch, Angel, is played by Jaime Sanchez. Mexican actor Emilio Fernandez plays the brutal General Mapache. He is the one who tortures and kills Angel.
Ben Johnson, Ernest Borgnine, and Warren Oates play the other surviving Bunch, Tector Gorch, Dutch Engstrom, and Lyle Gorch, respectively. Robert Ryan portrays the role of Pike’s former partner turned enemy, Deke Thornton. Other actors in the movie include L.Q. Jones as T.C, Bo Hopkins as Clarence Lee, Albert Dekker as Pat Harrington, and many more.
Themes of the Movie
Although the movie is full of gun violence, it also promotes a life beyond guns. Since nobody from the Bunch survives, it sends the right message about the consequences of violence. Pike Bishop even says, “We’ve got to start thinking beyond our guns. Those days are closing fast,” confirming the theory.
Another iconic line from the film goes, “When you side with a man, you stay with him, and if you can’t do that, you’re like some animal.” Bishop says this line, but ironically he too betrays his gang members at some point. So, apart from controversies, the film is also full of opposing ideologies.