April 7th, 2008

Butch and Sundance

Yesterday evening I watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with T.R. I think I was about T.R.’s age last time I saw it.

The movie I remember had very little to do with the one I watched. Since, presumably, the movie has not changed in the many years since I was a kid, the problem must lie in my memory. But I am interested in the ways my memory differs from the real artifact.

Because I was a kid, I had Butch and Sundance lumped together under “Grown-Ups.” It surprises me that I didn’t have a sense of Butch as the older guy, the elder statesman of bandits. Also that both of them seemed old to me then and young to me now.

My mom used to sing “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” when I was little. I couldn’t get my head around the idea of a man with feet too big for his bed, but I put this down to the inscrutable ways of adults. I remembered the scene from the film with Butch and Etta on the bike, but what I remembered was that she was Butch’s wife. I seem to have picked up the subtext of Etta’s interest in Butch and dropped Sundance from the equation entirely.

I had exactly zero memory of Sundance getting Etta to undress at gunpoint. I sat there appalled. I didn’t exactly get over it when it turned out that they were playing, either. I was subjected to a cinematic dirty trick. No wonder Etta wished she had met Butch first.

But oddest of all is my memory of the cliff jump. Up until yesterday, I thought it happened at the very end of the movie, leaving the two of them in mid-air, possibly surviving to go off to Bolivia or Australia or whatever, possibly dying. I had no idea that they ended up surrounded by the army, no clue that had Quentin Tarantino directed the film, it would have ended awash in gore and bullet-riddled bodies rather than with that last still shot of them running out of the little house into certain death.

Legends aren’t supposed to die.