Killer of Sheep on the Small Screen

January 20, 2008 | 1 book mentioned 1

In April of last year, Patrick noted that Killer of Sheep, Charles Burnett’s 1977 classic film about life in the Watts section of Los Angeles, was finally getting a theatrical release after decades of red tape related to clearing the rights of the music in the film.

Though declared a national treasure by the Library of Congress, the film had been rarely seen over the years. Now, Killer of Sheep is likely to reach an even wider audience. On Monday at 8pm, the film will make its television debut on Turner Classic Movies.

More, from Patrick:

The story, in so far as there is one, is simple. Stan, an employee of a South Central slaughterhouse (hence the title of the film), is depressed and retreating from his wife. Interspersed with scenes of Stan at home and at work (the footage of the sheep is both fascinating in its gore and haunting, like watching a lake before a storm) are snippets of kids playing, women gossiping, and men scheming to make a few dollars more. What makes Killer of Sheep so memorable is the depth and reality of the characters and the incredibly complex humor the film employs. Indeed, for a movie that says so much about poverty, it’s surprisingly funny.

The movie has also recently become available on DVD.

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.

One comment:

  1. killer of sheep is one of the most over-rated movies of all time, by people who don't understand the difference between neorealism and flat out amateurishness. the acting is almost ed woodian in its stiffness. if it weren't about poor blacks – a truly exotic creature for the white upper-middle-class critics who love this film – more people would see it for what it is. as for the scene when the main character rubs a hot mug against his cheek and imagines his wife — as oscar wilde said about little nell's death: you'd have to have a heart of stone not to laugh.

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