Killer of Sheep: The Charles Burnett Collection

Dir: Charles Burnett. 1977. Starring: Henry Gayle Sanders, Kaycee Moore. English. Black Cinema.
Killer of Sheep: The Charles Burnett Collection

Killer of Sheep is a beautifully simple urban tale of an African-American community set in Los Angeles' Watts district during the1970s. Yes, the 1960s held a cultural revolution for racial freedom, but history often assures us that problems lie on far more complexities than just a cry for racial freedom. Every community has its individual fight and here we follow Stan, frustrated with the monotony of working at a slaughter house, and how it affects his life at home.

Noteworthy of the film is how personal it feels. It makes sense – Charles Burnett wrote, produced, shot, and directed it with a budget of less than $10,000 with the help of many close friends and family. The result is a natural, humanistic style. It takes a lot of courage for a director to let a story work inside out, and that's where the simplicity lies. Emotion is often wallpaper when complicated plots involve twists and turns. Instead, here, we are embraced in moments within relationships, moments of hardship, moments of tenderness, and moments of family-hood.

Our generation is fortunate to witness this DVD release of the film – the film never saw its release until 30 years (2007) after its completion due to music rights not being secured. It also includes another feature length, My Brother's Wedding, Burnett's timeless second feature about characters from Los Angeles' South Central.

Posted by:
Tiffany Huang
Feb 2, 2008 3:01pm
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