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Capturing stories set in the Mexico - USA Border region (2 replies and 1 comment)

Shyam Ediriweera
1 month ago
Shyam Ediriweera 1 month ago

Hi Roger,

Some of the films that you've collaborated on, including No Country for Old Men, Sicario and In the Valley of Elah, are set around the Southern US, particularly New Mexico/Texas, and the border region with Mexico.

I understand that the photographs by Alex Webb of the border in Crossings: Photographs from the U.S. - Mexico Border were a key reference for Sicario, and I understand from these Forum pages that you enjoy Cormac McCarthy's books, and note that he wrote a series called The Border Trilogy set in the Southwest US and Mexico.

I was wondering whether you have a particular affinity with that border region and its history, and whether this has been a key element that drew you to working on these aforementioned films?

Thank you very much and kind regards

Shyam

Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

I have always loved westerns and it has been one of the highlights of my career to work on such films. I was just lucky to have been offered them. I especially loved Peckinpah's westerns, 'Guns in the Afternoon', 'Pat Garret and Billy the Kid', 'The Ballad of Cable Hogue', 'Major Dundee' and 'Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia', all of which are much more than traditional westerns but about values and obsessions, similar in many way to the writings of Cormac McCarthy. And there is 'The Wild Bunch', which I regard as one of the highest achievements by any America director.

Shyam Ediriweera
1 month ago

I recently discovered 'Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia' and I was hypnotised by it, particularly the extraordinary performance by Warren Oates. I read that Peckinpah believed it to be his truest vision: ''I did 'Alfredo Garcia' and I did it exactly the way I wanted to. Good or bad, like it or not, that was my film." As you note how these films are much more about values and obsessions, I found '...Alfredo Garcia' stayed with me long after I finished watching it, as I tried to understand why I was so affected by it.
Not that I am advocating for a remake of it - a "bizarre masterpiece" in the words of Roger Ebert, but I would be wildly intrigued if there was to be an interpretation by you and the Coen Brothers.
I recently rewatched 'Bad Day at Black Rock', which was thrilling to see again. I read an article that suggested that 'Bad Day...' was one of the inspirations for No Country For Old Men. I was wondering if you'd be able to provide any observations if that was indeed the case and what other films and references inspired 'No Country...?

Thanks
Shyam

Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

'Bad Day at Black Rock is a very different film to 'NCFOM'. It certainly wasn't an inspiration for me, that was just Cormac's book. 'Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia' certainly doesn't need another interpretation either. Who could ever be better than Warren Oates in that film?

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