Recommended viewing situation:
Sober, through red tinted glasses.
Running Time: 1hr 58 minutes.
Format: 16mm | 35mm | 8mm| Video (NTSC).
Director: Oliver Stone.
Writer: Quentin Tarantino (Story) Oliver Stone+ David Veloz + Richard Rutowski (Screenplay).
Cinematographer: Robert Richardson.
Awards: Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director and more.
Natural Born Killers (1994): the tale of Mickey and Mallory Knox, two psychopathic murderers with traumatic childhoods, their mass killings across America and their glorification by the media. After dealing with Mallory’s abusive father, Mickey and Mallory go on a road trip unlike any other; in the midst of enjoying life on the open road and their passion for one another they fight, shoot and stab their way through towns, always leaving one person alive to tell their story. The pair soon become a media sensation. They become celebrities, and not just in the way that several people know who they are, they are icons, people look up to them, have t-shirts with ‘I heart Mickey + Mallory’, signs that say ‘Kill me Mickey’ and a hoard of fans that say things like’ If I was a Mass murderer…I’d be Mickey and Mallory’.
Characterisation and development are the key things that make Natural Born Killers so special; every character is necessary to the story and the message of the film. From the abused and vulnerable brace wearing Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis), who has her world changed by the ruthless Mickey Knox (Woody Harrelson) with his poetic logical stance on human and animal nature, to the sex and violence loving, revenge seeking Detective Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore), the attention to detail in the backgrounds of each character is incredible. Not to mention Robert Downey Jr plays the biggest arsehole he ever has, (I know difficult to believe, but he plays it well) Australian new caster ‘the media’ Wayne Gale; all this guy cares about is the ratings. He is a brilliant embodiment of all that is wrong with the media, as he strives for the most talked about event in television history, a live tv interview with a serial killer (technically mass murderer).
The idiocrasy and complete ridiculousness of the way the media exposes and completely sensationalises their mass killings into some cult craze is a chilling satirical dig at the media and mass audiences: how stories are portrayed, over examined and exposed, how too much detail is given away and how it gets too involved in things it really shouldn’t, and how mass audiences crave the ‘fodder’ that is packaged media. Even 20 years later the satirical message of Natural Born Killers is still relevant today.
One thing that really divides audiences with this film is that there is so much going on. Visually, the film is stunning: a mixture of filmed narrative and cut away shots of wild life, snakes, wolves, black and white shots thrown in with the colour, the use of graphic animation and old commercial footage, lens switching and slow motion material, cantered angles, handheld camera – honestly there is so much, but it is a beautiful collage that emphasises the entire satirical nature of the film. The soundtrack is emotional and strong, it carries the thread of karma, logic and good through the film. Equally, there are a number of costumes that are iconic to this film, none more than Mickey’s white t-shirt and jeans combo with double gun holster, complete with those red tinted circle glasses that serve as the perfect canvas for the blood of his victims, a wonderful metaphor for how the media ruins the pure and the good, or its an all-white outfit because it makes the blood stand out more…you decide.
Natural Born killers is a work of art, but do not watch it hungover, it just feels too real.