The True Meaning of Riding “Shotgun”

The film opens in a stark black and white, three girls exit the cinema, seemingly normal girls until one realizes that their trivial teenage pastime is being shot as if it was an old western. These are the hero’s the “femme fatale’s.” Men want them, and women want to be them.

In the culmination of the opening sequence, Chynne, the blonde-bobbed leader of the group screams “shotgun!” The scene then cuts to the trio riding in her hot rod. Chynne explains that people used to yell “shotgun” in the old west in order to ride as a passenger in a carriage and carry a shotgun to protect the driver and passengers from any type of danger out on the open road.

Suddenly, in a seamless and dreamlike transition the characters become very self-aware. “Why do we have a plot”, “Movies are the worst with subtitles”, “Why are we speaking French”, “I don’t know, the director wanted us to.” This self awareness is one of the most delightful and unique aspects of the film. There is no fourth wall, and as a viewer, you naturally feel more invested in the characters, because you are one of them.

This kind of romance, and ability to play within film does come at a price though. Shotgun cannot remain all avant-garde for its entire twelve minute sequence. When the film transitions from French to English the entire aesthetic shifts from French film noir to an old western. The girls are following Chynne’s cheating boyfriend in their hotrod. They are seeking revenge, and out for blood. Instantly, and reminiscent of the femme fatale’s of her past, Chynee shows us the true meaning of what “riding shotgun” is.

This film is truly something you must see to believe. It’s artful and dreamlike qualities are validated by the fact that it became the Winner of 16 Awards  and was an Official Selection of 54 Film Festivals including Palm Springs International ShortFest, Athens International Film Festival and Nashville Film Festival, where it was screened with Jean-Luc Godard’s “Goodbye to Language.”

Shotgun certainly is a “blast to convention” but most importantly a “love letter” that will live on, displaying the very best eccentricities of film for years to come.

Kellyrose Marry

Kellyrose is a recent graduate from Siena College where she studied Theatre and Journalism. She is an aspiring actress and writer, and when she's not doing those things, she loves to travel and eat fancy vegetarian food-- often simultaneously. Follow the rest of her adventures at @rockinrosey

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