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Killer of Sheep Image

Universal acclaim - based on 21 Critics What's this?

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 31 Ratings

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  • Summary: Killer of Sheep examines the black Los Angeles ghetto of Watts in the mid-1970s through the eyes of Stan, a sensitive dreamer who is growing detached and numb from the psychic toll of working at a slaughterhouse. The film offers no solutions; it merely presents life -- sometimes hauntingly bleak, sometimes filled with transcendent joy and gentle humor. (Milestone Film & Video) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 21
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 21
  3. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. A lyrical, yet intensely rooted, tragic vision.
  2. Burnett's documentarian empathy, coupled with his easygoing skill as a dramatic essayist, result in a film that doesn't look, feel or breathe like any American work of its generation.
  3. 100
    See Killer of Sheep, and see it again and again. It's one of those truly rare movies that just get better and better.
  4. It is the most influential movie you've never seen, deeply affecting many artists and experimental directors who saw it on the museum circuit in 1977 and 1978.
  5. 100
    A milestone of eloquent understatement that captures the daily life of have-nots as few American movies have.
  6. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Seeing Killer of Sheep is an experience as simple and indelible as watching Bresson's "Pickpocket" or De Sica's "Bicycle Thieves" for the first time. Despite its aesthetic debt to European art cinema, Burnett's film is quintessentially American in its tone and subject matter. If there's any modern-day equivalent for the movie's matter-of-fact gaze on the ravages of urban poverty, it's the HBO series "The Wire."
  7. Reviewed by: Felix Vasquez, Jr.
    There isn't really an overall arc present in Killer of Sheep, and that's the point. There's really nothing meant to be expressed in Killer of Sheep but the experience of poverty, and the inevitability of crime in the face of poverty.

See all 21 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 15
  2. Negative: 8 out of 15
  1. AndresZ.
    Apr 24, 2007
    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 Expand
  2. Leiris
    Mar 28, 2007
    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.
  3. GinoM.
    Apr 7, 2007
    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. Sep 26, 2010
    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. Expand
  5. ElecE.
    Mar 14, 2008
    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. Expand
  6. JoseF.R.
    Nov 9, 2009
    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. Expand
  7. Heather
    Mar 22, 2008
    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! 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

See all 15 User Reviews