3.31.2010

ARTICLE: The Kid Doesn't Stay In The Picture

As reported in The Independent, Butch Cassidy is set to return to the big screen... without his partner, the Sundance Kid. Based on real-life cowboy criminals Robert LeRoy Parker and Harry Longabough, the characters were famously portrayed by Paul Newman and Robert Redford in what is arguably one of the greatest westerns of all time, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. The 1969 original has also endured two recent (and, if word of mouth is to be believed, barely-worth-mentioning) prequels. The upcoming film, entitled "Blackthorn," aims to bring Butch back into action about 15 years after the events depicted in the original film's finale.

Blackthorn will see Butch carrying on incognito after Sundance's death, breeding horses and living with a native Bolivian woman before a young mine-robber inspires him to take on one last adventure that could provide means for a return to the States. There is no word of how Butch managed survival to experience these events, but historians hold a variety of theories as to his actual fate so there are plenty of routes to consider.

Most any film fanatic will have a number of red flags popping up at this news. Primarily, the mere existence of a sequel negates the original's incredible finale the same way Before Sunset's presence on this earth strips some of the mystique from Before Sunrise. On top of that, Paul Newman is sadly deceased, rendering his return to the iconic role an impossibility (Western veteran Sam Shepard will put a face to Butch in Newman's stead). This is doomed to be a bastardization, right?

Here's what gives me a boatload of hope (aside from the facts that Before Sunset was actually damn good and that "Blackthorn" is a badass title). Mateo Gil, writer of Alejandro Amenabar's astonishing films Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes, the original version of Vanilla Sky) and Oscar-winner Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside), is not only writing but assuming the director's helm. If his previous work has proven anything, it's that he knows better than most how to tell a story about what truly drives us as human beings.

The Independent:

[Gil] has described the rebooted Cassidy as "that tired and lonely old man who, for an instant, recovers all his energy and dreams due to someone who seems to reincarnate the past, his old friends and ideals".
The film will be shot on location in Bolivia and is pitched as an old-fashioned Western. "One of the things that I like most about Westerns is that it's a truly moral genre," added Gil, in a statement on the website of the production company, Arcadia. "The characters face life and death, and other very important matters (freedom, commitment and loyalty, courage, treachery, ownership and money, justice, friendship and even love) in very pure and simple terms. It's a genre that helps us look at our own life and find a way to face it."
Color me excited. My only question is... why Butch? No disrespect to Newman - I hold him in very high esteem - but from the looks of it Robert Redford is still very much alive and acting. Not to assume Redford would go for it but he hasn't done anything since 2007's mediocre Lions for Lambs and he's proven (particularly in 2004's underrated The Clearing) that he's prime for this sort of role. Butch wins top-billing for a reason, but Sundance is far from meritless. There is also the possibility this will be a stand-alone piece that only shares a similar basis with the original film, which would be ideal in my opinion.

Blackthorn will also star Eduardo Noriega. There is no word yet regarding a shooting schedule or release date.

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