Straw Dogs is a notorious film actually being denied release for a period in the UK. It has only been available in its uncut form from 2002. The problem is that the film has a violent rape scene midway through in which the gorgeous Susan George appears to take pleasure for a while. I am not going to discuss the ins and outs of rape, whether the character of Amy did enjoy her rape to any degree or even whether she had feelings for her rapist. These are deeper questions that are clearly intended to be ambiguous. Amy clearly is hugely disturbed during the later parts of her rape.
What I actually found far more surprising is the fact that the climactic violence is not actually related to the rape at all. In fact the pair are only drawn into the violence by chance. This does not render the rape inconsequential however. It is a vital part of Amys change in attitude and the viewers shift away from sympathy with David (Hoffman). At no point does this initially sympathetic character seem to even realise that his wife is massively traumatised. He is far more concerned with “what is right”.
By the end of the movie you are in a position where you feel that nobody is a winner. David has protected a dangerous pervert (apparently) Amy still has the massive unshared trauma of her double rape and several locals are dead or dying. Not one person comes from this being the better person. Amy even becomes corrupted as she is keen to sacrifice the male they are protecting and even comes close to siding with Charlie (the rapist) in the final fight scenes.
What surprised me most about Straw Dogs is the undeniable depth that it has. The film is brilliantly layered and plotted and thoroughly engrossing leaving you with all kinds of thoughts that perhaps you had rather not have? It was far from the schlock that one would believe it to be given its banning.
Well worth a watch with an open mind.