Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Madness of Sorcerer (1977)

It is one of my wife's pastimes to play Sims on the computer while I watch a film on the other side of the room with headphones in. She knows when a film is really good because I can't keep quiet. I'll moan or talk to the characters or gasp, and she sits there and smiles. When I watched Sorcerer, she had a full evening's entertainment, without ever hearing a single line of dialogue. I was especially noisy that night.

I honestly think that William Friedkin of the 70s is one of the greatest storytellers of cinema. The French Connection, The Exorcist, and Sorcerer are three of the best told stories we have. In Sorcerer, we are thrown immediately into the action in Jerusalem where a bombing occurs. Then in Paris, where an executive is threatened with jail. Then in New York where heist goes all wrong. And these disparate stories are not only captivating, but they introduce us to the world through the film's eyes-- desperate and without hope. Every time hope emerges, there is another dousing of ice cold water to bring us back to this reality. This doesn't mean the film is always dark, but we can understand the motivation behind the characters because desperation leads to extreme choices.

And the film is extreme. To a degree that a kind of madness took over even during the making of the film, where William Friedkin, looking back, regrets putting his actors in an extremely dangerous situation to film the famous bridge scene. And the insanity comes through. By the end of the film, I was desperate myself and the ending had me throwing up my hands, exclaiming. Which amused my wife to no end.

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