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Bonnie and Clyde: Now a classic movie
The legend of Bonnie and Clyde
In the late sixties (in England anyway) all the fashionable young girls were wearing mid calf-length skirts, tight short sweaters and angled berets. Bonnie and Clyde wasn't just a blockbuster film, it also spawned a whole fashion era for the young.
Now a classic
The film was a huge success at the time but has since achieved iconic status. It tells the story of a young couple in the nineteen thirties who embarked on a career of crime. The couple were both twenty years old when they met and were both killed in a police ambush four years later after a series of bank robberies that had taken the lives of fourteen people. (In fact, my one criticism is that the actors in the movie are too old for their roles).
Fun and tragedy
The film shows the couple as being carefree and enjoying their unconventional life but both know - particularly Bonnie - that there is only one way in which it is likely to end. They have gone too far down the road in their life of crime. If they had been arrested then they would have been put to death so they realized that the end could come at anytime. What starts as fun ends in the way the viewer suspects throughout the film that it will - in a hail of bullets.
The film is based largely on reality - the couple did exist and led the life - and met the death - that is portrayed in the film. This is not a one hundred percent historically accurate portrayal but the basics are correct, even if the main characters are somewhat exaggerated. Although there is no doubt that they committed the crimes, it's the newspapers of the time that glamorized the couple and created the Bonnie and Clyde legend.
I remember seeing the film in the cinema and I and many others were surprised at the violence, especially of the ambush scene where the couple are riddled with bullets. It was shocking for those days. Today, when we are much more immune to seeing horrors on screen - real and fictional - it is more poignant that horrifying.
But this was the pioneering aspect of this film and one of the reasons why it has become iconic. Until it was made, we were not accustomed to seeing such violence in the cinema.
The quality of the History Channel speaks for itself and this is the truth behind the legend. When you're as familiar with the 1967 film as I am, it's interesting to see the reality and compare the two.Of course the story - and the ending - don't change but this documentary goes some way towards explaining these deceptively complex characters and the way they chose to live their short lives.
The pair didn't just travel solo in their crime spree. At one time, Clyde's brother joined them along with his wife Blanche. They were only part of the gang for a couple of months until they too were subjected to the guns of the law. Buck was killed but Blanche survived, having lost the sight of one eye.These are her edited memoirs of her time with the gang,
How much of the story of Bonnie and Clyde is true?
This is why the items shown above are so necessary to understand more about this couple.
There's no doubt that the film romanticised their story and their lives. Of course, it's easy to understand that this story altered by the filmmakers to make it appeal to the general public but I wonder if the true facts aren't even more interesting.
Many of these relate to Bonnie Parker.
For instance, for all the time she was with Clyde - until they died - Bonnie was a married woman. She had dropped out of high school in her teens (at only fifteen years old) to marry. She was still wearing her wedding ring when she was shot in the ambush.
The marriage hasn't lasted of course, but this is an interesting fact that has been largely whitewashed from her history.
I have mentioned above that the actors were too old to play the parts they did. Bonnie was only twenty three when she died.
Another event that wasn't covered in the film was that by the time the ambush took place, Bonnie was far from being a carefree, fun-loving criminal which is how she is portrayed in the film. In fact, she was quite severely disabled and unable to walk unaided.
This was the result of a car accident.
It's also never been proved that Bonnie shot anyone. In fact, it was testified that she'd never even been seen with a gun - apart from posing with one in a photograph.
This made people question whether the ambush was lawful as regards Bonnie. Clyde was definitely a killer.Bonnie was not.
I suspect that the truth is far more interesting than the romanticised version.
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© 2013 Jackie Jackson