Killer of Sheep examines the black Los Angeles ghetto of Watts in the mid-1970s through the eyes of Stan, a sensitive dreamer who is becoming increasingly detached and numb from the psychic toll of working at a slaughterhouse. Frustrated by money problems, he finds respite in moments of simple beauty: the warmth of a coffee cup against his cheek, slow dancing to the radio with his wife, holding his daughter. The film offers no solutions; it merely presents life – sometimes hauntingly bleak, sometimes filled with transcendent joy and gentle humour. —BFI
Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi on April 13, 1944, Charles Burnett moved with his family to the Watts area of Los Angeles at an early age. He describes the community of having a strong mythical connection with the South as a result of having so many Southern transplants, an atmosphere which has informed much of his work.
Burnett first studied as an electrician but soon became bored with the idea of making this his career and went to UCLA, where he earned his Masters of Fine Arts in Filmmaking. There, he was greatly influenced by professors Elyseo Taylor—creator of the Ethno-Communications department—and Basil Wright—the English documentarian famous for Night Mail and Songs of Ceylon. He became fast friends with fellow future greats like Haile Gerima (Sankofa), and Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust), collaborating with them and others on a number of projects. Burnett cites Jean Renoir, Satyajit Ray, and Sidney Lumet (The Pawnbroker) as important influences.
In 1988, Burnett… read more
The fact that it doesn't feel like you are watching professional actors is refreshing and a large part of why this film works. None of the characters seem to know that every activity they engage in is the equivalent of skydiving into an unlit cave. Death, or worse, a life altering disability, seems to be waiting around every corner. I loved it. Watch it.
Good film overall - very real, thought I was watching a docu at one point... I have to say though - The daughter stuck out for me even though she was more or less in the background doing what children do best - The scene where she's singing along to the tune on the radio...get's me everytime!