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Killer of Sheep: The Charles Burnett Collection
Killer of Sheep The Charles Burnett Collection
Actors: Henry Gayle Sanders, Kaycee Moore
Director: Charles Burnett
Genres: Drama
NR     2007     1hr 21min

January 31 1971. More than 125 vietnam veterans representing every major combat unit to see action gathered in detroit to heal a nationand themselves. Winter soldier the documentary of this event remains to this day a rema...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Henry Gayle Sanders, Kaycee Moore
Director: Charles Burnett
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Drama
Studio: New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 11/20/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 21min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 16
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Kippered Herring | NYC | 10/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Emerging from the shadows a sort of film urban legend is Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep, made in 1977 as his UCLA graduate thesis and finally given wide release thanks to film preservationists and Steven Soderbergh. For years I've had to listen to how great this film was without actually experiencing it for myself and now... let's just say I've only had the occasion three or four times to see a movie and realize that the director was put on earth specifically to make that film. An ethnographic study of life in the Watts ghetto of Los Angeles, Burnett's movie takes the best element of Renoir's romantic abstractions, Rossellini's neorealist cityscapes, Satyajit Ray's family dramas, Kenneth Anger's thematically and musically-linked visuals and Cassavetes' naked 16mm textures and mixes them into a sad and funny visual essay. Artistic camerawork and lighting, disorienting editing, the employment of nonprofessional but striking actors and virtuoso use of pop music confine Burnett's approach to no one recognizable style: instead, they form an audacious and wholly original aesthetic. Made up largely of a collection of entropic events from the neighborhood with supporting characters who comes and go, the film is sparse on dialogue, but Burnett speaks through the mise en scene in unique moments of narrative spontaneity. While the tone moves ambiguously between tender and bittersweet, social and isolated, frivolous and crushing, the overall feel of the film is simply vitalizing. Even through the grimness of its shots of tiny lambs moving to the voice of Dinah Washington, oblivious to their impending slaughter, Burnett discovers a transcendent beauty. Everyone owes it to himself to see it."
Great Film(s)...Inconsiderate Packaging
C. Roberts | Hamilton, Ontario | 12/05/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)

"This is a review of the poorly-designed packaging of the great film "Killer of Sheep" only. Other reviewers have discussed the merits of this brilliant film and the unfortunately-neglected accompanying feature, "My Brother's Wedding".

Like the poor recent edition of "I Am Cuba", Milestone has released good-quality transfers of these significant and previously-unavailable films but shown them no respect by packaging in a way which compromise the DVD's themselves.

The DVD's are stuck into, truly, the tightest pouches(!) of a cardboard DVD case. Not only were the DVD's slid in once by the manufacturer--scratching the playing surfaces--but you must pull them out with some effort from the too-tight pouches to view them, thus scratching them again. For the price of this product, a standard plastic (double) snapcase would be reasonable to expect and much more secure storage.

Unfortunately, this is the only way to purchase "Killer of Sheep". I suggest pulling out the DVD's carefully and then placing them in another DVD case to prevent further desecration with subsequent viewings."
Hustle and flow
Boxodreams | district of columbia | 01/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Perhaps the most striking, or is it subtly impactful, things about Killer of Sheep are the children; children that climb and fight and laugh and sing and kick and crawl out from under things, and leave bikes behind as if property meant nothing when they're brought up in a world where nothing is not only a given, but practically a birthright. These are kids that are like kids, not hollywood creations, beautifully represented with the logic of children. the film opens with a stern reprimand to take some responsibility by a father to a boy of about 13, and as soon as that wake-up call is administered, it is punctuated with a slap in the face by the mother, and from that moment on the film is plunged into a lethargy so profound that you can feel the stifling heat of a neighborhood that's got nothing but scraps to kick around. Killer of Sheep is a masterpiece of American black poverty, accompanied by a rich and mournful soundtrack, from the bent-but-not broken dignity of Paul Robeson, to the deep blue sensuality of dinah washington, to the sweet voices of 70s soul, to 1950's roadhouse blues. Here, in stark black and white, are a people that barely dare to speak of the middle class, whose motion takes them sideways, sometimes downward, but forward in only the smallest of increments. And even those steps are dashed by what at first glance would be the fates, but, in reality, is the state of the conditions -- the car ride without a spare tire, the unsecured engine falling out of the bed of a pickup. The juxtaposition of the poor blacks and the sheep going to slaughter should be heavy-handed, but miraculously is, instead, a sad poetry. And even more miraculous are the myriad tiny beauties, the smallest touches the director Burnett illuminates again and again: the warm coffee mug rubbed against a man's cheek and compared to the body of a woman, the little girl in a rubber mask, another young girl singing along with the radio to a doll, a son hiding from his mother on the roof of the house . . . The sheep at the slaughterhouse where the father works are herded and their fear is palpable. They intuit their fate, yet where can they run when boxed in a pen? The adults are of two kinds in the film: those seeking small pleasures, and those too tired or beat up to do anything but sit. It's not a slaughterhouse, but there is no escape. Still, in the end, there are those children, and they flow like fresh water in a fetid pond. Their exuberence is nearly chaos in a void of structure and purpose. Yet when three women gather in the final images of the film to share the joy of one's new pregnancy, you can't help but feel lifted by the promise of hope children somehow always bring into the well of human despair."
Killer of Sheep is Profound -- Seemingly Unintentionally
Olon F. Dotson | Indiana | 12/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am so pleased that Charles Burnett's "Killer of Sheep" has been finally released after years of challenges. I was fortunate to see the film many years ago as part of an underground circuit at Tuskegee Institute. I found the style and material contained in the film to be compelling and my first experience with a media which accurately portrays a particular aspect of African American culture. When Spike Lee's "She's Gotta Gave It" was released years later, it was regarded as the first of its kind and revolutionary with respect to African American film making; however, "Killer of Sheep" was not only a predecessor, I am confident that Spike Lee was heavily influenced and inspired by the work of Charles Burnett. "Killer of Sheep" is a MUST SEE!!!"