Some movies are eternal victims. Case in point: Barbarosa, which had the best script and the worst luck of any of the late-70s-early-80s Westerns. Barely released to theatres after production company ITC went bust, little seen on TV and almost impossible to find on video, tragically it's only available on DVD in Australia and America in a cropped fullscreen 1.33:1 ratio instead of the original and very impressive widescreen 2.35:1 ratio, begging the question why bother to remaster a film in the wrong ratio this day and age?
Even awkwardly cropped it still holds up, managing to straddle the middle ground between the revisionist and the mythical, taking place in a landscape at once all-too real (parched Texas wilderness, ramshackle farmsteads) and stylised (the almost cave-like room where Gilbert Roland's bitter paterfamilias endlessly retells the legend of Barbarosa to each new generation who will grow up to hunt him down and die in the attempt). As the two unlikely partners caught up in pointless blood feuds with their in-laws, Willie Nelson isn't always as good as he should be and it takes a reel or two to get used to his style and Gary Busey is nobody's idea of a Western hero, but their very unlikeliness as movie icons helps sell them as closer to the reality of the old West. And the film is also blessed with one of the best endings of the 80s, as a supposed fiesta becomes almost funereal, the dead faces of the film's `victors' sapped of all purpose until... well, see it for yourself, it's worth it. Barbarosa! Barbarosa! Barbarosa!