Archive of films Slow West / Slow West

United Kingdom / New Zealand
2015, 84 min

Section: Horizons
Year: 2015

The Western frontier captured at an extremely leisurely pace and in almost painterly compositions. Debuting British director John Maclean’s Slow West, about the search for great love in 19th-century Colorado, is influenced in equal measure by Sergio Leone, Sam Peckinpah, and American landscape painters. Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Festival.


Young love and the American West – two grand themes and two grand myths – come together in the revisionist western Slow West, in which the typical theme of the search for America’s identity is transplanted onto a story about looking for love and searching for oneself. A sixteen-year-old Scottish aristocrat travels the American prairie not on the trail of “Injuns” or criminals on the run, but in search of the girl of his dreams. He is aided by a cowboy with an agenda of his own who tests the young man’s ability to retain his faith in humanity. This distinctly stylized genre-bending debut is influenced in equal measure by Sergio Leone, Sam Peckinpah and American landscape painters, with references to Jean-Luc Godard and “amour fou.” The film’s decorative visual design contrasts sharply with the dangers lurking in the beautiful scenery, and emphasizes the conflict between reality and the protagonist’s naiveté. Unexpectedly, however, the resulting story is about neither the loss of innocence nor the loss of illusions.

Jindřiška Bláhová

About the director

John Maclean studied fine art in Edinburgh and at London’s Royal College of Art. His painting background can be felt in his feature film debut Slow West, which won the Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Festival. This revisionist western about a young man in search of his love in the American West is a continuation of the director’s collaboration with Irish actor Michael Fassbender, who produced two of Maclean’s earlier short films: Man on a Motorcycle (2009), shot using a mobile telephone, and Pitch Black Heist (2011), which was screened at the Prague Short Film Festival and also won a BAFTA award. In both films, Fassbender played the lead role. He returns as actor and producer on Maclean’s debut, which the director calls “more of a European road movie than a western.” A founding member of the Scottish rock band The Beta Band, Maclean tried to avoid western clichés by leaning towards surrealism and fairy-tale elements.


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About the film

Color, DCP

Section: Horizons
Director: John Maclean
Screenplay: John Maclean
Dir. of Photography: Robbie Ryan
Music: Jed Kurzel
Editor: Roland Gallois, Jon Gregory
Art Director: Kim Sinclair
Producer: Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Conor McCaughan, Rachel Gardner
Production: See-Saw Films, DMC Films
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Ben Mendelsohn
Sales: HanWay Films
Contact: The Festival Agency
Distributor: Asociace českých filmových klubů


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