Killer of Sheep is a Stunning Portrayal of Ghetto Life
Last night, I saw Charles Burnett's 1977 film
Landmark's Ken Theater . Burnett made it while he was still at UCLA film school, shooting on weekends over the course of a year.
Henry G. Sanders and Kaycee Moore in Killer of Sheep (1977)
Killer of Sheep is remarkable. It's gorgeous to look at -- shot in black and white -- with each shot perfectly composed. It's raw and moody and poetic. It transports you into the daily life of a Watts neighborhood, into its kitchens and back alleys and onto its front porches.
The plot is a loose one, centering around the struggles of a slaughterhouse worker and his family. But the genius of Killer of Sheep is not in the story. It's in Burnett's ability to capture the mood and feel of this particular place and how it informs his main character's emotional life.
For decades, Killer of Sheep has been unavailable for commercial release, due to poor print quality and difficulty securing the music rights. But thank goodness they were secured - the soundtrack is an essential companion - featuring the likes of Paul Robeson, Dinah Washington, Louis Armstrong and Earth, Wind and Fire.
Don't miss Killer of Sheep . It will remind you of all the beauty that can fill one moment.
Have any of you seen it yet? Let me know what you think.