Synopsis by Mark Deming
Director Anne Feinsilber offers an impressionistic look at the life, legend and lasting influence of a legendary outlaw in this documentary. Born William Henry McCarty and later known as William H. Bonney, Billy the Kid was a petty thief who later joined up with a gang of outlaws and horse thieves, and developed a reputation as a bloodthirsty gunman (which history suggests wasn't truly deserved) when he was shot and killed in 1881 by Pat Garrett, a New Mexico sheriff who knew Billy from his earlier career as a bartender. Billy the Kid's life quickly became the stuff of legend, and filmmaker Feinsilber travels to New Mexico in search of the elusive truth about the outlaw, as well as learning what he means to others. While comparing Billy to such existential poets as Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, the film also looks into the facts of his life as researched Tom Sullivan, a lawman and western history buff in New Mexico. The film also features interviews with Kris Kristofferson and Rudy Wurlitzer, respectively the star and screenwriter of Sam Peckinpah's film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid as they discuss Billy the Kid as a cultural metaphor and counterculture icon. Requiem for Billy the Kid received its world premiere at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.