David Mackenzie (Starred Up), a Scotland borne and bred filmmaker, has somehow made the quintessential American film of our times. Hell or High Water, on the surface, may seem like your run-of-the-mill ‘bank-robbers vs. cops’ Western; but just underneath, the film ably touches upon today’s political vitriol towards banks, towards government, towards political-correctness, towards [insert subject of ire here]. Yet the film itself isn’t so much angry as it is reflective – which is to say Hell or High Water isn’t necessarily about whether this anger is justified or not; but why it exists in the first place. What are the conditions that have led to today’s animosity and is there any way back?
Mackenzie working with longtime cinematographer Giles Nuttgens perfectly captures the sun-soaked despair of the dying ‘West’ – images of boarded up homes, a cattle rancher moving his herd away from an encroaching fire, uncut grass slowly withering into grey heaps… One could almost be mistaken to think Mackenzie a native Texan himself.
In the following interview with the filmmaker, he discusses perfecting ‘the look’ of Hell or High Water, his ten-plus year working relationship with Nuttgens and the editing process on the film.
- David Mackenzie on perfecting the look of Hell or High Water
- On referencing other films/shots during production
- On his relationship with cinematographer Giles Nuttgens
- On how Hell or High Water shifted during the editing process
- On his process of showing the movie to the cast