New Internationalist

Killer of Sheep

Issue 413

Written and directed by Charles Burnett

Endurance, love and commitment in Killer of Sheep.

Burnett shot this in LA’s Watts district in the early 1970s, with a mostly unprofessional cast. Now, 30 years on, it gets to the cinema – Burnett simply hadn’t been able to raise the fees for use of the soundtrack music.

It’s a beautifully composed episodic study of Stan, a slaughterhouse worker, his family, friends and community. Like Couscous, it’s about endurance, and the love and commitment of family and friends, but is never sentimental or rosy. Unadorned, un-pretty, sometimes harsh, its images stay in the mind. A rediscovered classic. 

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