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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. Aug 27, 2010
    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 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
    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
  3. Feb 15, 2011
    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 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.

See all 15 User Reviews