The Power of the Dog – Benedict Cumberbatch respectfully adresses Sam Elliot’s criticism

Sam Elliot heavily criticised The Power of the Dog earlier for it’s non-American director and some of the themes the film features. Benedict Cumberbatch defended his acclaimed film.


There has been an ongoing controversy about The Power of the Dog due to Sam Elliot’s harsh criticism to the point that Benedict Cumberbatch had to step in. Elliot called the film a “piece of sh*t” and criticised its “allusions to homosexuality.” He wasn’t happy with the director, Jane Campion, since she is a New Zealand native. Elliot disliked the idea of her making a movie about the American West and not filming it in the US.

Elliot expressed the following opinion on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast:

“What the f**k does this woman — she’s a brilliant director by the way, I love her work, previous work — but what the f**k does this woman from down there, New Zealand, know about the American West? And why in the f**k does she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana and say, ‘This is the way it was.’ That f**king rubbed me the wrong way, pal.”

Benedict Cumberbatch recently appeared for a BAFTA Film Sessions interview with fellow nominee Stephen Graham. Benedict Cumberbatch had a hour-long interview, where he adressed Elliott’s reaction to The Power of the Dog, although he didn’t name anyone.

“I’m trying very hard not to say anything about a very odd reaction that happened the other day on a radio podcast over here without meaning to stir up the ashes of that. I don’t want to get into the details of it … but somebody really took offense to — I haven’t heard it so it’s unfair for me to comment in detail on it — to the West being portrayed in this way.”

“And beyond that reaction — that sort of denial that anybody could have any other than a hetero-normative existence because of what they do for a living or where they’re born, there’s also a massive intolerance within the world at large towards homosexuality still, towards an acceptance of the other, of any kind of difference, and no more so I guess than in this prism of conformity of what’s expected of a man in the Western archetype mold of masculinity. So I think to deconstruct that through Phil, to look at that, it’s not a history lesson.”

Despite the heavy criticism he received from Elliot, Benedict Cumberbatch is the frontrunner for the Best Actor Oscar for The Power of the Dog. His controversy with the Hollywood veteran may even enhance his chances for the award.

The Power of the Dog is adapted from an existing work of fiction written by a renowned American author: Thomas Savage, a closeted gay man. Cumberbatch further addressed the theme of toxic masculinity in The Power of the Dog, saying:

“These people still exist in our world — whether its on our doorstep or whether it’s down the road … there’s aggression and anger and frustration and an inability to control or know who you are in that moment that causes damage to that person … and damage to others around them. I think there’s no harm in looking at a character to try and get to the root causes of that.”

The Power of the Dog deals with several very contemporary topics, including the themes of toxic masculinity and repressed sexuality. This isn’t the first time for lgbtq+ cowboys to appear on the screen; Brokeback Mountain already broke the ice around this topic in 2005, and like The Power of the Dog, it received harsh criticism as well. And as Cumberbatch said, it’s not historically accurate because that wasn’t the aim.

The Power of the Dog is nominated for 12 Academy Awards, which will take place on March 27, 2022.

Source: Movie Web

The Geek’s review of the film:

The Power Of The Dog – A Psychological Western With An Incredibly Dark Atmosphere

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