Sorcerer review – a cinematic concerto of pessimism worthy of Herzog

William Friedkin’s 1977 thriller, in which four desperate men drive nitroglycerin through an inhospitable jungle, is a tense study in psychological breakdown

Here is a 40-years-on rerelease of William Friedkin’s treasured personal project: his 1977 movie Sorcerer. It’s a study of an existential ordeal, and a reworking of Clouzot’s classic film The Wages of Fear, though avowedly drawing directly on the 1950 source novel by Georges Arnaud. (It’s a story that incidentally still seems to fascinate film-makers: Ben Wheatley is reportedly pondering a remake of his own.)

Sorcerer is a distinctive, gritty and gloomy movie – a determined slow-burner, resisting the traditional structure of narrative and central character. It involves four guys in four desperate situations, each introduced in leisurely vignettes: New Jersey mobster Scanlon (Roy Scheider), crooked Parisian businessman Manzon (Bruno Cremer), Mexican hitman Nilo (Francisco Rabal) and Middle Eastern terrorist Kassem (played by the Moroccan actor Amidou). For individual reasons,

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