Dead for a Dollar writer-director Walter Hill doesn’t link violence in Western films with real gun violence in America.
At a press conference at the Venice Film Festival, where he is being honored with the Cartier Glory to the Filmmaker Award for an illustrious film career that includes 1979’s The Warriors and 1982‘s 48 Hrs, he was asked about any link between guns onscreen and gun violence in real life.
A reporter asked Hill and the Dead for a Dollar stars: “At a time when gun violence and cultural violence is a growing issue, how you deal with that, when you’re making a film where violence is so baked into the genre, or when it’s even based on a true story where violence occurred? Is that something that, as a filmmaker, Mr. Hill, as actors, is that a conflict at all, or a conversation?”
Hill responded: “Gun violence is a terrible thing. I don’t think any film I’ve ever done advocates anything like that. … It’s easy to condemn the use of force. But it was the use of force and guns that freed slaves. It was the use of guns and force that liberated Nazi camps. It’s really about purpose, and the idea behind that. We all condemn these terrible things that happen in schools or supermarkets. I think the issue is availability, not use.”
Of the Dead for a Dollar actors were present, including Willem Dafoe, Christoph Waltz, Rachel Brosnahan and Benjamin Bratt, only Bratt waded in.
“The violence in the film is representative of the genre,” he said. “I’m sure it’s more or less what it was like: deafening violence comes shockingly quick and sudden, and out of nowhere and then it’s over. And that’s how it plays out in the film.”
Dead for a Dollar continues Hill’s work in the Western genre, which also includes 1995’s Wild Bill (1995), episodes of HBO’s Deadwood, and even The Cowboy Iliad, a spoken word album performed by Hill from 2019 that details an 19th century shootout in Newton, Kansas.
In Dead for a Dollar, Waltz plays bounty hunter Max Borlund, who travels south to Mexico to rescue Rachel Price (Brosnahan), who he believes has been abducted by an Army deserter (Brandon Scott). Dafoe stars as a troublemaker looking to get even with Borlund.
Dead for a Dollar, written and directed by Walter Hill opens in theaters, on digital and demand on September 30.