Dennis Hopper’s audacious 1971 movie about the ritualistic voodoo of cinema is a brilliant, exhilarating experiment
This year’s posthumous release of Orson Welles’s The Other Side of the Wind may reignite interest in another misunderstood film of that period that Welles’ work very much resembles, and which may well have inspired it: Dennis Hopper’s fascinating, flawed, experimental The Last Movie from 1971, about the ritualistic voodoo of cinema, now on rerelease – featuring cameos by Samuel Fuller and Kris Kristofferson. After the smash-hit success of Easy Rider in 1969, awestruck Universal studio bosses agreed to give Hopper and his co-writer Stewart Stern (screenwriter of Rebel Without a Cause) a million-dollar budget and an undertaking not to interfere with what they were doing. Hopper took their money, went to Peru and over a year filmed this audacious experimental picture about a movie shoot. Universal didn’t know what to do with it and it was hardly seen.
The story concerns a crew shooting a western about the death of Billy the Kid, using locals as extras. Dennis Hopper stars as Kansas, a stunt coordinator who stays behind after the shoot is over and the Hollywood folk have all packed up and gone back to Los Angeles, having fallen in love with a local woman, Maria (Stella Garcia).
The Last Movie review – fascinating, flawed adventure in ideas