• Release Date: Mar 30, 2007
User Score
6.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 32 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 32
  2. Negative: 10 out of 32
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  1. Aug 27, 2010
    8
    Just as "The Velvet Underground & Nico" spurred wannabe musicians to actually go forth with their dreams, "Killer of Sheep" opened up the door to independent filmmaking to anyone with a camera and the vision. As a film, the 'story' relies on a series of episodic scenes (accompanied by an incredible soundtrack) to depict poverty in the Watts ghetto. This is both the film's greatest strengthJust as "The Velvet Underground & Nico" spurred wannabe musicians to actually go forth with their dreams, "Killer of Sheep" opened up the door to independent filmmaking to anyone with a camera and the vision. As a film, the 'story' relies on a series of episodic scenes (accompanied by an incredible soundtrack) to depict poverty in the Watts ghetto. This is both the film's greatest strength and weakness, because even though the neorealist style forces the viewer to experience the hardships with authentic intimacy, the lack of character development or plot makes the impression somewhat empty, (though not without a profound effect) Expand
  2. Sep 26, 2010
    2
    I get that this movie is a quiet serious look at poverty and all that, but in the end it is just plain boring. I don't mind slow paced movies, but this is too much, heavy handed and bad.
  3. GinoM.
    Apr 7, 2007
    10
    I was fortunate enough to catch wind of this unexpectedly provocative tale of Arfican-American life in late 70's Watts at the Nuart Theater in Los Angeles. This movie, as cast member Charles Bracy put it, is a true independent in that it really has no plot. This is a pure street movie aimed at telling the harrowing reality of African-American life on a minute-by-minute basis through I was fortunate enough to catch wind of this unexpectedly provocative tale of Arfican-American life in late 70's Watts at the Nuart Theater in Los Angeles. This movie, as cast member Charles Bracy put it, is a true independent in that it really has no plot. This is a pure street movie aimed at telling the harrowing reality of African-American life on a minute-by-minute basis through the back alleys and residential avenues of Watts, California. In the same vein of Dark Days, the viewer is turned on to more than he could ever imagine, cast into a whirlwind of emotions concerning the, often overlooked, subjects of the movie. A joy to watch. Expand
  4. ElecE.
    Mar 14, 2008
    2
    This movie goes no where. there is no sense of plot. Nothing happens. Feels like a student movie that a bunch of film students decided to hold in high acclaim b/c when & how cheaply it was made. i felt nothing.
  5. dustinc
    Jan 18, 2010
    0
    Look at all those critics getting off on the importance of this movie. did they forget the point of movies themselves? this was garbage, from start to finish. pure garbage.
  6. Leiris
    Mar 28, 2007
    10
    Glad to see that this great film is getting a proper release. I cannot wait to replace my old copy. Hopefully more Burnett releases will soon follow.
  7. AndresZ.
    Apr 24, 2007
    10
    Around the seventies, when films like Annie Hall, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Saturday Night Fever ruled the age, Charles Burnett silently crafted Killer of Sheep, his thesis film for UCLA. Thirty years it has eluded us
  8. ByronD.
    Feb 27, 2008
    4
    While the film has interesting ideas and images it really comes across as a mish-mash of story elements without any structure. The film is overrated. Not horribly so, but it is not as good as people say it is. If you like experimental film then this might be a good one for you but those who prefer a traditional narrative form will not be pleased. Really, I can only recommend this for its While the film has interesting ideas and images it really comes across as a mish-mash of story elements without any structure. The film is overrated. Not horribly so, but it is not as good as people say it is. If you like experimental film then this might be a good one for you but those who prefer a traditional narrative form will not be pleased. Really, I can only recommend this for its glimpses at impoverished African-Americans in the 1970s. This is a first film and it shows. Expand
  9. Heather
    Mar 22, 2008
    0
    I dont get all the fuss about this one- and i do enjoy quirky, indie movies.i fast-forwarded through a good bit of it. just nothing happening. yes, its about poverty, but what was the point of all of it except watching poor people living their lives? as another reviewer said "i felt nothing". i kept asking myself "what is the point of this?" i was certainly hoping for much, much more! soI dont get all the fuss about this one- and i do enjoy quirky, indie movies.i fast-forwarded through a good bit of it. just nothing happening. yes, its about poverty, but what was the point of all of it except watching poor people living their lives? as another reviewer said "i felt nothing". i kept asking myself "what is the point of this?" i was certainly hoping for much, much more! so then i thought "well maybe the shorts on the dvd are the gems"... uh... no-im sorry but i really felt the whole thing (shorts included) were stupid. and i kind of feel bad saying that b/c i know this guy was a student at the time and maybe im missing something? no. i dont think i missed anything. wasnt anything there worth seeing. Expand
  10. JoseF.R.
    Nov 9, 2009
    1
    I only made it through about 15 to 20 minutes of this film. The dialogue is difficult to understand and next to nothing happens. I have read reviews that call this movie art - I can accept that. But DO NOT call this movie entertaining, because it is not.
  11. bda
    Apr 15, 2009
    0
    Despite its grainy black and white, its art-house camera-work and its cool music, there is one huge problem: it's unwatchable, due to writing and acting shortfalls.
  12. LeeT
    Jul 27, 2009
    1
    Maybe if someone feels really guilty that America can produce a ghetto like Watts then that someone would feel that this movie is worth watching. But that someone would also have no idea what makes a movie worthwhile.
  13. SeanU.
    Mar 26, 2007
    10
    A beautiful film - I loved it when I saw it for the first time 10 years ago. Please, do yourself a favor and see this on the big screen. It's really amazing, comparable to early Jamusch's work. Also good is To Sleep With Anger, Burnett's major motion picture starring Danny Glover.
  14. JabezH
    Sep 18, 2008
    5
    I really wanted to like this movie. I didn't. It is mostly dull with a few interesting moments. Perhaps this film presents an exotic landscape to those who have never been poor and lived in bad urban areas. I couldn't help feeling like the kid I met on a dusty Andean road when I was in South America. When I said "what a view" about the incredible mountains in front of us, he I really wanted to like this movie. I didn't. It is mostly dull with a few interesting moments. Perhaps this film presents an exotic landscape to those who have never been poor and lived in bad urban areas. I couldn't help feeling like the kid I met on a dusty Andean road when I was in South America. When I said "what a view" about the incredible mountains in front of us, he turned, looked and then turned back to me with a quizzical look. "Where?" he said. It was nothing special to him. Film criticism must pay better than I thought. Expand
  15. Feb 15, 2011
    0
    After watching this movie twice, I have concluded that (1) the emperor wears no clothes and (2) if you think highly of this movie, you are PRETENTIOUS. Please, be honest for a moment. You read all the critical acclaim this movie has garnered (it's the only reason you saw it in the first place) and you don't want to seem like the person that "doesn't get it." Permit me to help you feelAfter watching this movie twice, I have concluded that (1) the emperor wears no clothes and (2) if you think highly of this movie, you are PRETENTIOUS. Please, be honest for a moment. You read all the critical acclaim this movie has garnered (it's the only reason you saw it in the first place) and you don't want to seem like the person that "doesn't get it." Permit me to help you feel better about yourself: this movie was unwatchably bad. You know it; I know it; and now I give you license to be truthful.
    Imagine for a moment if this movie was filmed in color. The "artsy" feel is instantly removed. All that is left is intolerably bad acting and no story. People have written that this movie has a nontraditional storyline. If you want a nontraditional story of life in an impoverished neighborhood, drive to an impoverished neighborhood and hang out for a while. You would never do this for two reasons: it's a stupid idea and you would be insanely pretentious to do this. That's all this movie has to offer.
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Metascore
94

Universal acclaim - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 21
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 21
  3. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Shot on a year's worth of weekends on a minuscule budget (less than $20,000), this remarkable work--conceivably the best single feature about ghetto life that we have--was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry as one of the key works of the American cinema, an ironic and belated form of recognition for a film that has had virtually no distribution. It shouldn't be missed.
  2. 80
    Burnett used many kinds of African-American music on the soundtrack, and the movie itself has the bedraggled eloquence of an old blues record. The amateur actors, who occasionally burst into fury, combined with the black-and-white cinematography, bring the poverty of Watts closer to us emotionally.
  3. 100
    Killer of Sheep is an urban pastoral--an episodic series of scenes that are sweet, sardonic, deeply sad, and very funny.