Close Up

6 January 2018: Take Two: The Wages of Fear / Sorcerer


The Wages of Fear
Henri-Georges Clouzot
1953 | 147 min | B/W | Digital

“Clouzot chose the exotic and squalid background of an unnamed South American town for the keystone of his oeuvre, an angry parable about 20th century imperialism and masculinity pushed to the absolute breaking point and beyond. The Wages of Fear gave Yves Montand his first leading role as an embittered drifter and iconic Clouzot anti-hero – jaded, self-deluded and stumbling towards an uncertain redemption in a desperate gamble to return to France. A brilliantly gripping suspense narrative, The Wages of Fear uses bold existential strokes to render the Sisyphean mission of four men hired, at unreasonable terms, to drive rickety trucks of deadly explosives through the dark heart of an untamed jungle. The two-part structure favored by Clouzot is crucial to the tense division between the corrupt backwater village of the film's first section and the savage yet frighteningly indifferent jungle wilderness explored in the rest of the film.” – Harvard Film Archive

William Friedkin
1977 | 121 min | Colour | Digital

“Friedkin's still unacknowledged masterpiece, Sorcerer, an ambitious and successful reinterpretation of Henri-Georges Clouzot's The Wages of Fear, extended to heroic levels Friedkin's resolute commitment to realism and his belief that the deepest fears, hopes and mysteries of the modern age are best conjured not from fantasy but from the shadows of a believable and strangely familiar world.” – Nat Segaloff

“Four seedy criminal outcasts risk their lives in pursuit of redemption, both legal and moral, by driving unreliable trucks stocked with nitroglycerine through dangerous landscape to cap an oil well fire in a Central American banana republic. Featuring a trance-like score by Tangerine Dream and a visceral, astonishing performance by Roy Scheider, Friedkin's reinterpretation of Clouzot’s 1953 masterpiece is perhaps the best remake of all time and is among Friedkin’s most daring works. Three sequences alone – a chaotic car crash in New Jersey, the unloading of charred bodies in a Central American village, and the explosives laden trucks crossing a rickety storm-blown bridge – render Sorcerer a classic and retain their power to make audiences gasp. Released the same year as Star Wars, Friedkin's audacious masterpiece represents the braver road abandoned by the studio system.” – Harvard Film Archive