Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sorcerer (1977)

Director: William Friedkin
Writers:  Walon Green, Georges Arnaud
Cast:       Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, Amiduo

Four unfortunate men from different parts of the globe living in exile in South America agree to risk their lives transporting gallons of nitroglycerin across dangerous South American jungle. 

South American road films are always a good watch when it comes from very good directors. Motorcycle Diaries, Aguirre: Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo are some that I really love. Sorcerer is more close to Fitzcarraldo than the other two which are more philosophical or political in nature. In Fitzcarraldo, Kinsky is motivated by an uplifting cause, but in Sorcerer motivation for the characters is the desperate nature of their situation. The first half of the film is an elaborate foreplay (reminded me of 13 Assassins) which trots across Mexico, Jerusalem, Paris and New Jersey showing us small back-stories for the four characters. Their exiled life in Porvenir, a remote village in South America is hellish and when they are offered this suicidal job for good money, they show no hesitation in taking it. The 218 miles journey is treacherous as one would expect and there are many set-pieces to be had. They are really breathtaking despite the fact that you are expecting those kind of stuff. Even the trucks have a certain character and the title of the film comes from one of them. The matter of fact ending of the film is also great stressing the fact that we humans are not in control of our situation. The last scene is very predictable but is done in a cool way. That guy really looks like Graeme Souness.

Film was a big budget disaster at box office and it also got poor critical reception. It got released close to Star Wars and that is cited as a reason for its poor theatrical run. This is also marked as the turning point at which the studio system veered a great deal towards the block-buster kind of films. Sorcerer now holds a cult status and many of the critics who criticized it when it got relased have changed their tune. In this era of CGI shitfest where films rarely make us feel excited by action/adventure, Sorcerer is a great watch since you know that these guys did it for real rather than getting hung in front of a green screen. Friedkin has also been linked to directing an episode of True Detective Season-2 and he will be perfect. Hope he does the whole season.

Rating: 4/5