Review by Josiah Morgan. This is gritty Outsider Cinema as committed to its ideals as its images - Losey's greatest decision is in shooting this political survival film as an otherworldly sci-fi, our humans are Aliens consistently out of place among the shifting landscape, as unfamiliar with their environment as the Soldiers in Starship Troopers.
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Robert Shaw and Malcolm McDowell playing two escaped convicts making their way through some tough terrain and being relentlessly stalked by a police helicopter following them around like a vulture. Incredible fucking film. An almost plotless film in a desolate mountain area with two men Robert Shaw and Malcolm McDowell on the run for a helicopter that behaves like an irritating bluebottle.
The screenplay was written by Robert Shaw himself. The vastly underrated Joseph Losey gave us a super masculine early 70s buddy movie featuring Robert Shaw and Malcolm McDowell as escaped convicts being chased through Latin America by an ominous black helicopter.
On paper, it sounds like a mash-up of The Defiant Ones and Black Thunder and it pretty much is exactly that - would love to see this on a big screen. An odd little gem from featuring the unique pairing of Robert Shaw and Malcolm McDowell and highlighted by some excellent cinematography. I don't think I'd know about this film had I not stumbled across the DVD some years ago in a second-hand shop.
Figures in a Landscape: People and Places
It reminds me of being a child playing at evading make-believe baddies in the woods. Or on scrubland or edgelands or in fields or long grass or down ravines and gullies An outstanding experience, to say the least.
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Ansell goes to distract it, but instead of shooting the gas tank, MacConnachie shoots the observer in the helicopter's passenger seat. Ansell protests, but MacConnachie tells him that he did it to show power over the helicopter and to avoid injuring Ansell in a possible explosion. They also find a sub machine gun with the observer's dead body. After being pursued by ground troops through a field, they then come across a military compound where the helicopter goes to refuel.
Figures in a Landscape - Kino Lorber Theatrical
They try to sneak through, but are caught, and are forced to fight and escape, in the process shooting up the parked helicopter. They continue travelling across a mountain range afterwards where the ice is melting. Eventually, they arrive at a snow peaked mountain, which seems to be what they were searching for the entire trip. At the top there is a military post, presumably at the border, and several soldiers who come out to greet them.
Ansell is overjoyed and runs out to them, though MacConnachie hears a kind of noise from behind him, which is the helicopter. Before joining Ansell, he decides to stage a last stand battle between himself and the helicopter. Despite shooting it many times, the helicopter fires at MacConnachie, killing him.
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Ansell feels remorse, but eventually returns with the soldiers to the compound. The production took four months to film, between June and October During pre-production, many of the film's crew were replaced, such as Peter Medak as director and Peter O'Toole as star.