Filmmaker in 5: William Friedkin


William FriedkinUSA121 minutes197714AColourEnglish

Jul 14
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    Friedkin's high-flying critical and commercial success with The French Connection and The Exorcist came to a crashing halt when he embarked upon this ambitious remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot's The Wages of Fear, which went vastly over budget and flopped disastrously upon release; four decades later, however, many now claim Sorcerer to be one of the last great films of the New Hollywood, and even superior to its model. Though working from the same basic premise as Clouzot — four desperate men (led by Friedkin's French Connection co-star Roy Scheider) take a suicidal commission to drive two trucks filled with nitroglycerin to a raging oil fire in the middle of the jungle — Friedkin elaborates considerably on this stripped-down scenario, providing each character with an extensive backstory (which entailed location-shooting jaunts to Paris, Jerusalem, Veracruz and New Jersey) and amping up the perils of their explosives-laden journey, most notably in the film's signature scene: a nerve-shredding crossing of a rickety wooden bridge suspended above a raging river. "A fierce, austere and intriguing film: a cinematic concerto of pessimism" (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian).