Back when this film came out (1982), a friend told me it was no good, Willie Nelson can't act, blah, blah, blah. I took that at face value, and blew the film off. Well, 22 years later, 'Barbarosa' is on cable on American Movie Classics on a hot July afternoon, there isn't nothing' else on, so I say, okay, I'll give it fifteen minutes to get my attention.
Well, I gotta say, 'Barbarosa just BLEW ME AWAY!
I am Texan born and bred, and have done a fair amount of inquiry into old Texas lore, and this film is just SO RIGHT in so many details. In recent films like 'Cold Mountain', 'Open Range', and 'The Missing', it is much in vogue to get the 19th century period details exactly right. Well, 'Barbrosa' knocked that ball out of the park 22 years ago!
The basic feel of the old Texas homesteads and the horse race and barbecue, they still existed much like that out in West Texas when I was a kid.
The basic plot line is about two converging family blood feuds, one Spanish, the other German American, that is so TOTALLY authentic for this period! Also, the Big Bend scenics are superb!
While some may question Willie's talent for treading the boards, he has no problemo playing himself, and doesn't miss a beat. Gary Busey is one of my favorite actors, despite a habit of making tons of low budget el crappo films. He is at the top of his game in 'Barbarosa'.
While the film does have it's quirky moments, it is basically believable, and some of those old-timers were indeed quirky.
(Warning! As for eating armadillos, don't try this at home! They CAN carry leprosy.) My only beef is that the musical score didn't always seem to match the dramatic action, the music is wry and whimsical at the wrong time, possibly aping some spaghetti Western, but is fine when it sticks to Spanish guitar.
Some have labeled 'Barbarosa' a spaghetti Western. I don't agree, though it may seem so in the historical sequence of film-making. This was a successful attempt to make an authentically period Texas border film, by folks who knew what they are doing.
Some find the gunplay subdued and 'unrealistic', but 'Barbarosa' rightly shows the reality of old west killing where setting up the bushwhack and sniffing the ambush were far more decisive than actually pulling of the trigger.
In the old man's tale, you learn that Barbarosa was originally a Texas Ranger, who were often called los diablo's (the devils) by border Mexicans. This was a REAL legend, indeed a reality, down on the border.
Karl Westover, an inexperienced farm boy, runs away after unintentionally killing a neighbor, whose family pursues him for vengeance. He meets Barbarosa, a gunman of near-mythical proportions, who is himself in danger from his father-in-law Don Braulio, a wealthy Mexican rancher. Don Braulio wants Barbarosa dead for marrying his daughter against the father's will. Barbarosa reluctantly takes the clumsy Karl on as a partner, as both of them look to survive the forces lining up against them. —Jim Beaver
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
July 13, 2021 at 02:12 AM