Barbarosa (Willie Nelson), a gnarly ex-Texas Ranger turned bandit, lives by his wits and his prowess with a gun. Prowling the lonesome deserts of the Southwest, the wily fugitive meets Karl (Gary Busey), a young, eager... more » farmhand out of his element, forced to run after accidentally killing his brother-in-law. Together, the outlaw and the outcast outwit their bloodthirsty pursuers in this legendary story of betrayal, misunderstanding, honor and dignity. Brought vividly to the screen by director Fred Schepisi ("Roxanne", "Six Degrees of Separation" and "I.Q.").« less
"Beware. Artisan has only released a full-screen version of this movie. If aspect ratio is important to you, don't buy it."
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 07/29/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the best unknown Westerns of the last 20 years or so, Barbarosa stars Willie Nelson and Gary Busey in a story of revenge and honor. Nelson plays a ex-Texas Ranger, Barbarosa, who's now a lone bandit, preying on rich Mexicans. During a disagreement, he formerly crippled his father-in-law to be, a Mexican landowner and still deeply loves the landowner's daughter with whom he has had a daughter.Busey is a Texas farmhand who accidentally killed his brother-in-law--his sister's husband--and is now out on his own, pursued by his brother-in-law's two brothers for revenge. Similarly, Barbarosa is being pursued by the landowner's top gun, a fiery Mexican who vows Barbarosa's death.The two, Nelson and Busey, meet by accident and join up for a time. During that time we get to see the West as it very likely really looked about 100 years ago (more specifically, the Southwest--i.e., southern Texas); the cinematography is magnificent. One of the critical ingredients in any great Western is great cinematography and that is very much in display here. As well, the score by Bruce Smeaton is excellent.Nelson and Busey do a great job--their accents certainly don't hurt (both men are originally from that part of the U.S.), and so does the supporting cast. Fred Schepisi, the director, has a perfect sense of pacing and momentum that pulls the viewer along with very little tugging indeed. Armadillos figure in the mix, as do old men with guns and younger men buried up to their necks. There's a hacienda, a cantina, and an outdoor festival. The film drips with Western atmosphere, no question.Highly recommended for fans of the genre."
Uh, where is the widescreen version??
S Shepark | Kansas City | 07/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beautiful western! Just beautiful! And I can think of no other western, besides Walsh's "The Big Trail" which so clearly NEEDS a widescreen transfer yet, for some reason, doesn't have it!!!
Why??? Please, if someone is listening, these films deserve to be seen widescreen. The cinematography in Barbarosa (as well as "The Big Trail") is absolutely breathtaking and is integral to the story."
A Hidden Gem
Octavius | United States | 07/29/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A rather unknown western from the early 80s starring Willie Nelson and Garey Busey. Although the plot is within the mainstream of western genres, the film is a great drama with good direction and cinematography. The film also has an excellent soundtrack.
Willie Nelson plays Barbarossa, an ex-Texas Ranger ostracized from relating with his Mexican wife because of a vendetta from his father-in-law. His father-in-law also happens to be the pueblo's chieftain. His hatred for Nelson is so intense that he holds a bounty over his head to which all the young men of the pueblo respond. Nelson is therefore left to be a desperado who can neither be too far or too close from his wife's village. Nelson soon encounters Busey roaming in the desert as an outcast from his own family feud. They join together as desperadoes roaming the Sonoran desert while evading men of the pueblo who seek to carry out their jefe's vendetta.
The acting is excellent and all of the characters are given depth. A very touching story. Definitely worth owning.
The Vandal's Cut
cobaltspectre | 02/24/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"First, I LOVED "Barbarosa." I was one of the underwhelming few who tracked it down when it was in its original theatrical release, and greedily recorded it on VHS from a widescreen cable broadcast. Alas, that recording is gone, along with a heartbreakingly large quantity of other presently unobtainable material.
The fatal flaw with this product is that it is presented ONLY in what they ironically call "full-screen" format; chop off nearly half of what you saw on the theater screen, and you get "full-screen." This film has been tragically butchered.
The logic of producing this product in this manner utterly eludes me. Those of us who appreciate and value good films enough to lay out our money for an individual title on DVD want to experience the vision of the director who made it, and/or re-experience, as nearly as possible, what we first saw in the theater; not the "vision" of some nameless technician artlessly cropping two noses to fit into the same frame.
This is not a widely known film. Who is more likely to seek out and buy this title? Someone who appreciated it in its original form, and now wants to see it again, or watch it with others he believes could share in his appreciation of it? Or, someone who just needs something the right size and shape to fill the blank picture tube of his standard format television? I posit that ANY piece of junk will fill that empty space, and such a person is far more likely to fill it with free broadcast content than to pay to fill it with this film which they probably never heard of in the first place! I believe that anyone who is looking for this movie will be disappointed or angry that it was hacked apart; it reminds me of knocking the arms and head off from a statue to get it into a packing crate. This was a good-- I'd say great-- movie. No one had to do a thing except transfer it to digital and ship it out the door, and I'd have bought it, and loved it. The director had one vision; whose vision is THIS? Instead of "the director's cut," we're presented with "the vandal's cut."
This is an awful shame, because, as I said in the beginning, I love this movie in its true form. I believe the story is memorably good, the photography was beautiful, the actors were well-chosen. If you can get past the fact that this film was vandalized, there is still much to like. I'm going to wait and hope for an undefiled version to be released, or record it on my computer the next time I see it shown in widescreen on cable. But, if you're too impatient for that, or seeing the original version did not spoil this version for you, then I can recommend this. "Barbarosa" is one of my favorite movies... but, sadly, I do not recognize this version as that movie."