Anyone who seriously studies any kind of art will occasionally be accused of seeing things that arenâ€™t there â€” I usually hear it as the dismissive â€śItâ€™s just a MOVIE.â€ť But I stand by the things I find; a film is a universe constructed more diligently than the world we live in, by a creator who we know wanted specific shots, props, colors, whatever.
But recently my belief in the deliberateness of movie-making got a little shaken. I interviewed Mateo Gil, the director of â€śBlackthorn,â€ť in which Butch Cassidy (Sam Shepard, above) survived his standoff with the Bolivian police and has been living in the jungle for nearly 30 years. I noticed that Shepardâ€™s Spanish accent was typically â€śAmericanâ€ť: hard â€śrâ€™s,â€ť rather than the lighter, tapped sound thatâ€™s actually appropriate. I asked the director whether that was deliberate, a way to mark Cassidy as an outsider. â€śIt wasnâ€™t my decision,â€ť Gil said. â€śWe tried, [but Shepard] actually has a real American accent talking in Spanish.â€ť So, really, my theory got busted; Sam Shepard simply canâ€™t imitate a Spanish accent.
Does it matter? I think not. Cassidyâ€™s fluency with the language mirrors the length of time heâ€™s been hiding out, but the fact that he canâ€™t trill his tongue properly forever marks where he came from. It may not have been a deliberate choice on Shepardâ€™s or Gilâ€™s part, but itâ€™s a lucky break that helps Butch Cassidy live again.