Bitter Victory: Alternative View

Bitter Victory has none of the self-conscious epicness in its filming of the desert that afflicts so many other works set in the same or similar terrain. The film is shot in cinemascope so there is still a sense of grandness, but this bare expanse becomes a nothingness, a void, a blank of sorts against which the moral story is played out, Burton and Jurgens becoming like silhouette puppets dueling against the blindingly white back-drop. In a sense the universe seems to have shrunk down into this shadowplay. This is not a topographical film (like, say, Herzog’s flat Queen of the Desert) but a film interested in morality and conflict above all, or anything, else.

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