Sorcerer

Sorcerer ★★★★★

An adaptation of Georges Arnaud's novel that was also the basis for Henri-Georges Clouzot's The Wages of Fear, Sorcerer is William Friedkin's entirely compelling, densely atmospheric and at times nightmarish counterpart to Clouzot's classic. While the basic, surface structure of the plot is mostly the same, the suspense is just as poignant and the cynical view, firmly established from the start, remains present throughout, the experience is different but in the good sense of the word. Sorcerer feels more epic and more mythical (due in no small part to Tangerine Dream's hypnotic score) while still very real. This is achieved through a more distant and hermetic approach akin to documentaries that doesn't allow open spaces for cliches or melodrama to seep through. The special effects have to be mentioned as they're practical, which is just mind-blowing; the level of work and precision that went into getting the desired effect is visible on screen and it's truly impressive. The result elevates the movie to a place few movies have reached technically, the bridge scene being a point of reference in this sense. Much has been said about the irrelevance and inadequacy of the film's title, but the link it establishes with The Exorcist, even if superficial and almost blatant, gives Sorcerer an otherworldly dimension that ties nicely into the last section of the film and with the theme of unforgiving fate. Friedkin makes it feel like the main four characters, impelled by circumstances, have made a deal with the devil and descended to hell. The iconic image of Roy Scheider (in a terrific performance) heading towards the huge fire in a pitch-black night and carrying a box which might as well contain his soul, is a work of genius. Sorcerer is a compact, tense and haunting film that gets under your skin and works its way up to your psyche.

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