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Take an existential trip in our outdoor cinema with the greatest road movie ever made! Aimlessly drag-racing across the country in an iconic 55 Chevy Hot-Rod, songwriter James Taylor and the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson (in their only acting roles), challenge Warren Oates’s GTO to a high-stakes race.
Two-Lane Blacktop (dir. Monte Hellman, 1971, 103min). Doors 8pm, Film begins at Sunset.
Drag racing east from Los Angeles in a souped-up ’55 Chevy are the wayward “Driver” and “Mechanic” (singer-songwriter James Taylor and the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson, in their only acting roles), form an emotionally elusive love-triangle wth “The Girl” (Laurie Bird). Along the way, they meet Warren Oates’s Pontiac GTO–driving wanderer and challenge him to a cross-country race. The prize: their cars’ pink slips. But no summary can do justice to the existential punch of Two-Lane Blacktop. With its gorgeous widescreen compositions and sophisticated look at American male obsession, this stripped-down narrative from maverick director Monte Hellman is one of the artistic high points of 1970s cinema. Scripted by esteemed novelist Rudy Wurlitzer, this open road epic remains a timeless portrait of lives in transit and of a country questioning its identity and the meaning of progress.
A protégé of Roger Corman, early Monte Hellman pictures configure to the low budget, genre knock-off’s with which Corman made his name. However, Hellman’s starkly original westerns display a less commercial and more cryptic, European sensibility. Two-Lane Backdrop advanced Hellman’s wilfully esoteric approach replaces the western genre template with that of the road movie to consider man’s abject futility and mythical search for identity in a pessimistic, existentialist landscape of the kind more commonly found in the films of Antonioni and the literature of Sartre, Camus and Beckett.
“Two Lane Blacktop communicates the pointlessness of travel in an America in which everyone is lost, endlessly searching, but unable to find themselves or each other. Subsequently attaining mythic status, Two-Lane Blacktop is now commonly considered a quintessential road movie, 1970s or otherwise, standing alongside Richard C. Sarafian’s Vanishing Point (1971) in its articulation of nihilistic drift”. -Jason Wood, BFI
A note about seating in The Backlot Cinema: We encourage our guests to come as if to a picnic – so please bring your own blankets, cushions or folding chairs – you want to be comfortable so bring all the coziness you need! Restrooms provided. In the case of rain this event will be moved indoors into our Sanctuary.