The opening scene foreshadows events to come. The children enjoy watching a couple of scorpions stuck in a cage full of red ants. They watch with joy as the Scorpions struggle helplessly against the ants. The events in this scene symbolize the cruel kind of treatment that the members of the wild bunch would soon receive from in a Texas town. An opposing group of bounty hunters attacks them later in the book. The scene also shows how children often witness things that happened around them and then later actively participate in such violence.
The author uses the theme of changing times to show how the nine men in the film were out of touch with the times. The aging outlaws soon find out that the society was no longer able to tolerate their behavior. In the movie, they come to the end of their line. The rules of the old west no longer apply due to the changing times. In these new times, there are many people after them. Bounty hunters look for these men at all times. Friendship and a code of honor between them keep them together, but soon they realize that they are at odds with the rest of the world around them.
In her chapter on death, Jane Hopkins discusses the evolution and the popularity of death scenes in western films by explains people viewed death in the west. She shows the attraction that people had in the west. One of the greatest preoccupations that people in the west had was enjoying death scenes around them. People in the West were willing to undergo death and pain just to acquire aspects such as ability to dominate the environment around them. The "Wild Bunch" has a depiction of mortality that matches the description given by Jane Hopkins. The violence in the book and the death scenes support her statement on the issue of death in the west.
Women and children play a vital part in the film. The director uses women and children to expound on the violence and the continuity of violence in the area. For instance, the scene with the children watching the scorpions in a way shows how exposed they are to the violence around them, and how they enjoy the violence. There is a scene where we see a woman breastfeeding her child with a strand of ammo across her chest. The women and children expound on the theme of violence in the film.
The director`s vision of the West has similarities to other western movies, such as high noon. Both films focus on the lives of a bunch of people that seek to make a livelihood for themselves through the outlaw. Just like in the "Wild Bunch", the people in "High Noon" end up arrested and later murdered. The shared themes between these two movies include aspects such as death and the idea of changing times. In both films, the outlandish types of laws end bringing in a new era.
The songs Desperado and Hotel California both have a concept that shows the western lifestyle. Desperado has the idea of the old west but does not have a particular narrative about the old west. The song describes a cowboy that refuses to fall in love. This song is not entirely separate from the depictions of cowboys in the West. The song Hotel California, on the other hand, looks at aspects such as materialism and excess. The setting, which is a hotel, is just a metaphor for the life across America. This song has different concepts compared to the life in the west as it focuses on the American culture of excesses.