Bullet Points: Sorcerer
Until a few days ago, I had never even heard of the film Sorcerer. Is it that new Nic Cage movie with the skinny guy from all the Seth Rogen films? Is it a new Disney film starring some quirky, unique, and ethnic young woman who gets taken under the tutelage of an aging Sorcerer? Well, while both of those answers could have been spot on, neither of them are even close to what the late 70’s picture is actually about. Instead I was excited to find that it was a movie filled with exactly the types of gritty and un-heroic figures that I love to watch.
Synopsis: Four men from different parts of the world agree to transport a whole bunch of nitroglycerin across the extremely dangerous South American jungle.
- Say what: I know that doesn’t sound like it would make for a great film but it is so excellently shot and performed by all involved that it’s hard not to enjoy this film. Directed by William Friedkin, who also made The Exorcist and The French Connection, Sorcerer is loaded with quietly tense moments that allow you to really feel for the characters.
- Roy: Friedkin initially wanted Steve McQueen as the American lead for the film. McQueen had interest but he wanted his wife to play a major female character and Friedkin declined this option. It would turn out to be Friedkin’s biggest regret about the film. He’ll be the first to tell you that veteran actor Roy Scheider does a fine job with the role that was meant for McQueen but he’ll also tell you that Roy just didn’t have the star power to drive this film into the success that it needed.
- Where in the world: The film opens by showing what brought all of the main characters to the South American jungle in the first place. I was pretty confused as to what was happening for the first few minutes. It doesn’t help that none of the men involved are heroic at all. One of them is a terrorist, another a thief, a third is a hitman, and then there’s a Frenchman. You be the judge as to which is the worst.
- Inspiration: I know that this film was based off of an earlier picture titled The Wages of Fear but the story of the men carefully driving their explosive-filled trucks over the beat up roads of South America had a very strong connection to my own driving history. By that I mean that I often drive over the pot-holed ridden roads of Southern Ohio while holding piping hot cups of coffee. We’ve both risked so much.
- No thank you: From the look of this film, it was the worst shoot in history. The picture above is from an unbelievable bridge crossing scene that took a couple of months in horrible weather to film.
- Expect the unexpected: One of the really great things about this film is that since none of the characters are very likeable you just never know what is going to happen next. People die unexpectedly. Sorcerer doesn’t follow any sort of blueprint and that makes it a one of a kind.
- A Loyalty to his craft: The French dude wears a comfortably worn leather jacket in what has to be 110 degree weather. Mad props to him for not letting a little heat get in the way of a killer jacket.
Have you decided to watch it yet? Here are a few extra Bullet Points to think about as you do.
- This is William Friedkin’s favorite of his films.
- “No one is just anything.” A line that is uttered by the French dude’s wife and a great line to describe this film.
- The title comes from a Miles Davis record.
- Replaced Star Wars at the Chinese Theater, but due to its poor performance was replaced by Star Wars not long after.
- Truck fixing montage!!
The Verdict: Sorcerer was described to me by a friend as “slow at first, but by the end it’ll really grab you by the balls.” Not only is that an excellent quote, it also is a very good way to sell this movie to you and your friends. If you’ve seen any of Friedkin’s films in the past then you know that he is an excellent director and can get good performances out of nearly anyone. In Sorcerer he gets good work out of a whole bunch of guys, most of whom I’ve never heard of. Sorcerer could’ve used a scene with a solid gun fight but it never feels like it’s dragging on too long. I liked it, you will too.