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by Alison Willmore
October 9, 2013 11:09 AM
13 Comments
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Oliver Stone, Director of 'Savages,' Calls the Violence in the 'Breaking Bad' Finale 'Ridiculous'

Oliver Stone James Porto/Showtime

Oliver Stone is a man who knows his way around a provocative statement, if not one prone to much self-reflection. Promoting the upcoming Blu-ray release of his Showtime doc series "The Untold History of the United States," Stone shared some attention-grabbing opinions about violence in the media, specifically as it relates to the finale of "Breaking Bad" (which, if you haven't seen it yet, will be spoiled below). As reported by Forbes:

There’s too much violence in our movies – and it’s all unreal to me. I don’t know if you saw the denouement [of Breaking Bad], I happen to not watch the series very much, but I happened to tune in and I saw the most ridiculous 15 minutes of a movie -- it would be laughed off the screen. Nobody could park his car right then and there and could have a machine gun that could go off perfectly and kill all of the bad guys! It would be a joke. It’s only in the movies that you find this kind of fantasy violence. And that’s infected the American culture; you young people believe all of this shit! Batman and Superman, you’ve lost your minds, and you don ‘t even know it! At least respect violence. I’m not saying don’t show violence, but show it with authenticity.

Stone knows what he's doing here, but we can't help but take the bait, if only to point out that his last film, "Savages," was an orgy (or at least a three-way) of violence that cut out most of the satirical edge of its Don Winslow source material, too in love with the cinema-worthiness of its golden California hippie-criminal main characters to really cut into them the way the story demanded. It wasn't realistic, and it wasn't impactful, it was all sleaze and spectacle.

In fact, even "Natural Born Killers," the Stone feature that directly confronted media obsessions with celebrity and violence, derived all of its pleasure from the same glamorization it tried to skewer, both a comment on our love for those elements and an artifact of it. Stone may have made serious films about the trauma of war, but he's also made ones that relish in violence with no sense of impact, his last film climaxing in a literal fantasy of mass slaughter. He's hardly one to be talking about this topic -- except that he knows his way around a press quote, and here we are, writing about him.

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13 Comments

  • Jovonne | October 12, 2013 12:33 AMReply

    SAVAGES SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN MADE INTO A FILM!!!! IT IS HORRIBLE!!! OLIVER STONE HAS NO ROOM TO TALK, NOT ONE PICOMETER!!!

  • ScreenWorks | October 10, 2013 4:06 PMReply

    Wow, what a hypocrite. I have a feeling he said this with the intuition that it would draw attention to him and his current doc series. Which it has. Except now I'm not going to watch it.

  • Rob | October 9, 2013 7:07 PMReply

    "Savages" was a total piece of GARBAGE! and if you're going to critique a show, wacth a bit more than 15 minutes of the finale! JACKASS!!

  • Mark | October 9, 2013 4:47 PMReply

    Sorry, but Stone's an idiot, and why do we care what he says when he's only "tuning in" and his own films are the worst kind of awe at the "horror" of violence and war. I'm sure that walking in on the motion-capture scene in Holy Motors would be pretty weird out of what we call context.

  • Baoji | October 9, 2013 3:24 PMReply

    He wishes he had a show that was this successful. It's sad when once great artists in their declining years start bashing pop culture. Watch out, he'll be hitting people with his cane soon.

  • Kay | October 9, 2013 2:50 PMReply

    Jealous much, Ollie?

  • pepe | October 9, 2013 2:37 PMReply

    Just because he's a hypocrite, doesn't make him wrong. That BB ending was ridiculous, but America is so in love with that show that they would have bought anything. BB became increasingly phony as the seasons went on. And the last episode was the culmination of that.

  • ScreenWorks | October 10, 2013 4:10 PM

    It's called "dramatic television" for a reason, it's a dramatization of a fictional world. Who cares if there was a bit of dramatic flare here and there, it was entertaining and true to it's own world. If you want reality, go watch "Intervention".

  • Rob | October 9, 2013 7:09 PM

    there were only 5 seasons idiot, the show maintained it's edge. Too much for you? stick to "Ugly Betty"!

  • Emerson | October 9, 2013 1:23 PMReply

    The whole point of violence in movies and t.v is to have our fantasies come to fruition. Without some excessive violence once and a while we would never have our appetite for it curbed.

  • PEPE | October 11, 2013 2:35 PM

    Wow, these are some pretty thoughtful and convincing counter-arguments. You've changed my entire world view with your "go watch ____" rhetoric.

  • brijazz | October 9, 2013 1:22 PMReply

    Someone should show him the last 15 minutes of "Savages".

  • John | October 9, 2013 11:26 AMReply

    He lost me at "I happen to not watch the series very much." Breaking Bad's final act was very neatly packaged, but was in my estimation an appropriate way to conclude the series in accord with its intersecting themes of the unpredictability of fate and the inevitability of, for lack of a better word, karma.

    Also, the AMC podcast for the finale has some great and hilarious quotes by Gilligan that reveal how modest the the last scene was relative to the level of absurd violence that Gilligan's twisted mind was considering introducing into the first season and the finale.