WALTER HILL: Born January 10, 1942
Originally published January 9, 2015.
Years ago, a group of friends and I left a party in the middle of the night. One of our friends had lagged a few seconds behind, and the rest of us walked down the block and piled into my car. I started the car and headed back towards the party to pick him up. In the minute or two it had taken to get to the car and get back a block, he had left the party, crossed paths with two strangers, and when we found him he was being held from behind by one guy, while another man brutally pummeled his face. Before I could stop the car, a friend in the backseat had jumped out to help. My friend ran up to the fight, and the puncher immediately turned and punched him hard in the face. The attacker then went back to throwing punches at the first friend. I stopped the car, and another friend and I climbed out. I don’t know if the attackers were concerned about a four-on-two fight, or they’d just grown bored, but they yelled a few threats and stormed off. In the end, two of my friends were bleeding (one severely). The entire thing took less than a minute. The thing that’s striking about random violence in real life is how ugly it is. The attackers threw wild, clumsy cheap shots. My friends had seemingly no ability to defend themselves outside of cowering. When we kept asking the first victim what precipitated the incident, he swore he had no idea. Life just went from celebratory and pleasant to escalated, brutal, screaming, hysterical, and bloody – in a few seconds. Real life battles are far from glamorous or linear; they’re random and awkward. They create more questions than they resolve. They’re unlike the movies, with clear heroes and villains and moral resolution. And few filmmakers have chased that unreal, clearly-moral universe like Walter Hill.
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