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USA 1971
Directed by
Dennis Hopper
108 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

The Last Movie

Dennis Hopper's treatise on “the movies” is executed with the self-reflexivity of Godard, the grandeur of Tarkovsky, ironizes the machismo of Fuller and Hawks and is mixed with a touch of the Bob Rafaelson/Jack Nicholson Monkees's movie, Head (1968).

Hopper stars as a horse wrangler named after the state of Kansas who is in charge of horses on a western being shot in a small Peruvian village. When an actor is killed in a stunt, Kansas decides to quit the movie business and stay in the village. But his dreams of an unspoiled existence are interrupted when the local priest asks him to help stop the villagers killing each other by re-enacting scenes from the film for real because they don't understand movie illusionism

The Last Movie was the long-time project of Hopper and writer Stewart Stern who had written Rebel Without A Cause (1955) in which Hopper had had a small role. After developing the script in the early 1960s, Hopper got the chance to make the film by Universal with final cut rights after the huge success of Easy Rider in 1969.  Hopper, who was famously under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time apparently originally delivered a fairly conventional first cut but when it was criticised by his friend and cult director par excellence, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Hopper destroyed that edit and came up with the version that is known today.

The film tanked critically and commercially in the US (it won the Critics Prize at the Venice Film Festival) with such notoriety that Hopper did not direct another movie until 1980’s Out Of The Blue. Although not invariably successful and perhaps overlong it is nevertheless an interesting movie from a peak period of American independent film-making.




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