Barbarosa (1982)

Barbarosa (1982)

“Find this Barbarosa, and kill him — kill him for me; kill him for yourself; kill him for your family as sworn.”

After accidentally killing his brother-in-law, a farm boy (Gary Busey) partners with an outlaw named Barbarosa (Willie Nelson) who is living life on the lam from a patriarch (Gilbert Roland) who repeatedly sends out family members to attempt to kill the legendary bandit.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Feuds
  • Fred Schepisi Films
  • Friendship
  • Gary Busey Films
  • Outlaws
  • Revenge
  • Westerns
  • Willie Nelson Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “fine western has the appropriate feel of a story passed down through many generations so that it has become impossible to distinguish between fact and legend.” He notes that “Australian director Fred Schepisi filmed Texan William D. Witliff’s flavorful script in dusty, rugged land along the Rio Grande”:

… and “it’s in this unfriendly setting that mythical middle-aged outlaw Barbarosa (Willie Nelson) and a common-folk farm boy, Carl (Gary Busey) become dear friends.” It turns out that “Barbarosa has come to be regarded by the Mexican community as a legend, a man who can’t be killed” — and when he’s joined by Busey (who is similarly the target of a family vendetta), these “alienated men become like brothers — or like a wise, teaching father and a learning, respectful son.”

Peary writes that while “the story itself is familiar,” Schepisi manages to make every scene seem offbeat but authentic”:

… and though “the ending is predictable,” it “is still exciting.” He points out that Nelson and Busey are a terrific team: each is funny, full of warmth and honesty, and has a strong screen presence.” I’m essentially in agreement with Peary’s positive review: while this quirky western was a disappointment box office-wise (how could the estimated budget have been $11 million?) it remains worth a look for those interested in the genre.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Gary Busey and Willie Nelson as Carl and Barbarosa
  • Fine location shooting (with cinematography by Ian Baker)

Must See?
No, but it’s well worth a one-time viewing.


One thought on “Barbarosa (1982)

  1. First viewing (2/14/22). Not must-see.

    Nelson acquits himself better than one might expect. The film has a unique angle in that the two main characters are each being sought for retribution of past deeds. Still, at just a little over 90 minutes, the story feels a bit under-developed – and the ending is unsatisfactory. Schepisi’s direction is fine.

Leave a Reply