Stephen Prince Commentary Featured In "Straw Dogs" DVD

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 25, 2003 – Stephen Prince, professor of communications studies at Virginia Tech, provides audio commentary on the new DVD release of Sam Peckinpah's movie, "Straw Dogs." Scheduled for release on March 25 by Criterion Inc., the DVD boxed set contains the original, uncut version, plus Prince's commentary, and a variety of supplemental film footage, including interviews with principal actors Dustin Hoffman and Susan George. Comments from the late Sam Peckinpah and reflections from other screen notables also are included.

"Straw Dogs" is arguably one of the most controversial American films ever made, according to the comments of movie reviewers when it was initially distributed in 1971.

"It's a film which has been attacked and condemned by most film critics and historians," said Prince in his commentary. "(It) is Sam Peckinpah's masterpiece and one of the most audacious and brilliantly accomplished American films of the modern period."

"Straw Dogs" has been essentially unavailable to movie viewers since its initial release, especially to those in Great Britain where it was been banned outright until last year. The plot involves an American mathematician, played by Dustin Hoffman, and his wife, Susan George, who move to an English village. Expecting a quiet retreat, they instead uncover brutal savagery, from unexpected sources.

According to Prince, Peckinpah presents his own director's view of violence--shocking to every sensibility. The film is disturbing, and purposefully so. Prince thinks the movie might not be made the same way in 2003 as it was in 1971, because of today's culture.

As violent as "Straw Dogs" is, Prince thinks Peckinpah would be appalled at the level of violence in today's movies. Peckinpah, he said, produced an artful film about the horror of violence, not about popularizing violence.

"With all its perversity and darkness, this is a great film," said Prince. "Peckinpah was at the top of his game when he made this picture."

This is not Prince's first audio commentary for Criterion. His analysis is featured on the DVD release of Akira Kurosawa's "Red Beard." He also wrote an essay for Criterion on Kurosawa's "Rashomon."

Audio commentary is arduous but rewarding, Prince commented. He wrote his 60-page script in advance, tying it loosely to scenes in the two-hour movie, and then recorded the audio portion in New York"

Prince is also the author of "Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the rise of ultraviolent movies," among many other books and articles about film. He is currently writing a book on movie violence during the 1930-60 timeframe, when the movie industry's production code monitored film content.