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Killer of Sheep: The Charles Burnett Collection (2009)

Henry Gayle Sanders , Kaycee Moore , Charles Burnett  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Henry Gayle Sanders, Kaycee Moore
  • Directors: Charles Burnett
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC, Full Screen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque
  • DVD Release Date: November 20, 2007
  • Run Time: 81 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000VEA3MU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,791 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Killer of Sheep: The Charles Burnett Collection" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Killer Of Sheep (1977) A masterpiece of African American filmmaking and one of the finest debuts in cinema history, Killer Of Sheep was chosen for the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress and named one of the 100 Essential Films by the National Society of Film Critics. In the Los Angeles community of Watts, Stan, a sensitive dreamer, is growing detached and numb from the toll of working at a slaughterhouse. Frustrated by money problems, he finds respite in moments of simple beauty: the warmth of a teacup against his cheek, slow dancing with his wife, holding his daughter. Combining lyrical moments with neorealist style, Burnett unfolds his story with compassion and humor. Killer Of Sheep's haunting images and extraordinary soundtrack are a revelation in this new high-definition transfer from the UCLA Film & Television Archive's brilliant 35mm restoration.


An American masterpiece, independent to the bone. --Manohla Dargis, New York Times

The finest film yet about African American life. --National Public Radio
Way ahead of its time 30 years ago, and just as stunning today, KILLER OF SHEEP is one of those marvels of original moviemaking that keeps hope of artistic independence alive... Here's to the miracle of a buried classic granted the opposite of a killing - here's to life. Grade: A.-- Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly --Acclaimed Reviews

The finest film yet about African American life. - --National Public Radio

Way ahead of its time 30 years ago, and just as stunning today, KILLER OF SHEEP is one of those marvels of original moviemaking that keeps hope of artistic independence alive... Here's to the miracle of a buried classic granted the opposite of a killing - here's to life. Grade: A. - --Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally... October 27, 2007
Emerging from the shadows a sort of film urban legend is Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep, made in 1977 as his UCLA graduate thesis and finally given wide release thanks to film preservationists and Steven Soderbergh. For years I've had to listen to how great this film was without actually experiencing it for myself and now... let's just say I've only had the occasion three or four times to see a movie and realize that the director was put on earth specifically to make that film. An ethnographic study of life in the Watts ghetto of Los Angeles, Burnett's movie takes the best element of Renoir's romantic abstractions, Rossellini's neorealist cityscapes, Satyajit Ray's family dramas, Kenneth Anger's thematically and musically-linked visuals and Cassavetes' naked 16mm textures and mixes them into a sad and funny visual essay. Artistic camerawork and lighting, disorienting editing, the employment of nonprofessional but striking actors and virtuoso use of pop music confine Burnett's approach to no one recognizable style: instead, they form an audacious and wholly original aesthetic. Made up largely of a collection of entropic events from the neighborhood with supporting characters who comes and go, the film is sparse on dialogue, but Burnett speaks through the mise en scene in unique moments of narrative spontaneity. While the tone moves ambiguously between tender and bittersweet, social and isolated, frivolous and crushing, the overall feel of the film is simply vitalizing. Even through the grimness of its shots of tiny lambs moving to the voice of Dinah Washington, oblivious to their impending slaughter, Burnett discovers a transcendent beauty. Everyone owes it to himself to see it.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable movie. September 21, 2007
I saw this film a few months ago when it was shown for a weekend here in St. Louis. It is a masterpiece and truly unforgettable. No wonder the Library of Congress picked it as one of the top 25 movies in all of American film history. The scene with the couple dancing to Dinah Washington's, "This Bitter Earth", will haunt you for days after seeing the film.
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42 of 50 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Film(s)...Inconsiderate Packaging December 5, 2007
Verified Purchase
This is a review of the poorly-designed packaging of the great film "Killer of Sheep" only. Other reviewers have discussed the merits of this brilliant film and the unfortunately-neglected accompanying feature, "My Brother's Wedding".

Like the poor recent edition of "I Am Cuba", Milestone has released good-quality transfers of these significant and previously-unavailable films but shown them no respect by packaging in a way which compromise the DVD's themselves.

The DVD's are stuck into, truly, the tightest pouches(!) of a cardboard DVD case. Not only were the DVD's slid in once by the manufacturer--scratching the playing surfaces--but you must pull them out with some effort from the too-tight pouches to view them, thus scratching them again. For the price of this product, a standard plastic (double) snapcase would be reasonable to expect and much more secure storage.

Unfortunately, this is the only way to purchase "Killer of Sheep". I suggest pulling out the DVD's carefully and then placing them in another DVD case to prevent further desecration with subsequent viewings.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hustle and flow January 11, 2008
Perhaps the most striking, or is it subtly impactful, things about Killer of Sheep are the children; children that climb and fight and laugh and sing and kick and crawl out from under things, and leave bikes behind as if property meant nothing when they're brought up in a world where nothing is not only a given, but practically a birthright. These are kids that are like kids, not hollywood creations, beautifully represented with the logic of children. the film opens with a stern reprimand to take some responsibility by a father to a boy of about 13, and as soon as that wake-up call is administered, it is punctuated with a slap in the face by the mother, and from that moment on the film is plunged into a lethargy so profound that you can feel the stifling heat of a neighborhood that's got nothing but scraps to kick around. Killer of Sheep is a masterpiece of American black poverty, accompanied by a rich and mournful soundtrack, from the bent-but-not broken dignity of Paul Robeson, to the deep blue sensuality of dinah washington, to the sweet voices of 70s soul, to 1950's roadhouse blues. Here, in stark black and white, are a people that barely dare to speak of the middle class, whose motion takes them sideways, sometimes downward, but forward in only the smallest of increments. And even those steps are dashed by what at first glance would be the fates, but, in reality, is the state of the conditions -- the car ride without a spare tire, the unsecured engine falling out of the bed of a pickup. The juxtaposition of the poor blacks and the sheep going to slaughter should be heavy-handed, but miraculously is, instead, a sad poetry. Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Killer of Sheep is Profound -- Seemingly Unintentionally December 29, 2007
Verified Purchase
I am so pleased that Charles Burnett's "Killer of Sheep" has been finally released after years of challenges. I was fortunate to see the film many years ago as part of an underground circuit at Tuskegee Institute. I found the style and material contained in the film to be compelling and my first experience with a media which accurately portrays a particular aspect of African American culture. When Spike Lee's "She's Gotta Gave It" was released years later, it was regarded as the first of its kind and revolutionary with respect to African American film making; however, "Killer of Sheep" was not only a predecessor, I am confident that Spike Lee was heavily influenced and inspired by the work of Charles Burnett. "Killer of Sheep" is a MUST SEE!!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars AEWSOME!!
Great.Deeply profound with a great insight on how blacks cope with their day to day. Founding hope and a smile to keep them holding on. II Kings Ch6 : 1-5.
Published 7 months ago by Tru-Black
5.0 out of 5 stars provocative
Slow down to watch this one. Not typical entertainment but impactful, especially for college audiences. A slice of documentary
in a different format.
Published 7 months ago by LB
2.0 out of 5 stars like "What's Happening!" but without the jokes
Uh, you'd think before UCLA saw fit to emblazon their name all over the packaging as being those responsible for this film's restoration, they'd have done something about the... Read more
Published on September 8, 2010 by Caraculiambro
5.0 out of 5 stars The early genius of Charles Burnett
I started my educational career at UCLA in the History and Sociology departments from 1966 - 1971. I met Charles Burnett one early morning as he was headed to the north campus,... Read more
Published on February 20, 2010 by Thomas M. Penick
4.0 out of 5 stars In the ghetto
Charles Burnett's rediscovered classic is the quiet story of a family in Watts. Stan (Henry Gayle Sanders) is a good man who has nearly been crushed by poverty. Read more
Published on December 14, 2009 by David Bonesteel
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding film
I'm astonished that Killer of Sheep has received a few negative reviews. These perhaps reflect some limitations of the audience rather than flaws in Burnett's rich film. Read more
Published on August 14, 2009 by Ryan Sarno
1.0 out of 5 stars Do we have "shills" posing as Amazon reviewers?
I couldn't believe how bad this was.

It did have some entertainment value. I watched this with my wife. Read more
Published on May 23, 2009 by A. DeGiralamo
1.0 out of 5 stars Over Promised and Under Delivered
After reading most of the glowing reviews of Mr. Burnett's film, Killer of Sheep, I was excited about my purchase. Read more
Published on January 3, 2009 by phifedog
4.0 out of 5 stars Slice of Life
This is not a Hollywood Blockbuster, and is made in Black and White. It is not a conventional film with a plot, rather it is a slice of the life of a man living in Watts. Read more
Published on December 17, 2008 by British Commentator
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius!!!
i can't tell you, you have to watch and use your cognitive thinking skills. hopefully, your synapses will fire and connect and you too, like me, will be amazed and angered... Read more
Published on April 8, 2008 by ed boyd
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