What is the title of the beautiful song sung by the villagers who lined the road as the outlaws ride out of town in Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch?
The song is a traditional Mexican folk song, “La Golondrina,” which means “the swallow,” referring to the beautiful bird. The lyrics use the image of a migrating swallow to evoke sentiments of longing for one’s homeland. It is also known as the Mexican “Home Sweet Home.”
The villagers from where gang member Angel lived sing “La Golondrina” as the outlaws ride on to Aqua Verde, where they will confront the Mexican federale warlord, Gen. Mapache, in the film’s violent climax.
The song is often sung at a Mexican funeral. The viewer is left to wonder if Director Sam Peckinpah is implying the gang members are riding to their funerals, or if it has something to do with going home?
We hear the song again as the gang members make their dramatic walk, High Noon-style, into Mapache’s compound to seek the release of their comrade, Angel. When Angel is brutally murdered before their eyes, the final gunfight ensues. We hear the song again as the credits roll, and we see clips of the gang laughing and enjoying happier times.
Peckinpah had this to say about his film: “I was trying to tell a simple story about bad men in changing times. The Wild Bunch is simply what happens when killers go into Mexico. The strange thing is when you feel a great sense of loss when these killers reach the end of the line.”