By Jeff Shannon
Following the blockbuster success of The
Exorcist, director William Friedkin had the clout to make any film
he wanted, and he nearly ruined his career making Sorcerer, an
ill-fated remake of the classic French thriller The Wages of Fear.
Given the big-budget treatment that Friedkin could command, the original
plot remains unchanged: In an unnamed Latin American country, Roy Scheider
leads a group of four fugitives who will earn their freedom if they can
successfully transport truckloads of volatile nitroglycerine over
treacherous terrain to extinguish a raging oil fire. The unstable
explosives could prove deadly at any point of the journey, and numerous
obstacles threaten the completion of the mission. Produced under rugged
conditions in the jungles of the Dominican Republic, the film is visually
impressive and contains intense moments of astonishing suspense, but the
specter of the superior French version hangs over every scene. This
version remains a folly of directorial ambition run amuck, but for the
very same reason Sorcerer is a film that's hauntingly
unforgettable, fueled by an atmosphere of dread and the forceful powers of
nature. Presented in full-screen format on DVD, the film is aided
immeasurably by Tangerine Dream's eerie electronic score.
Sorcerer received an Academy
Awards nomination for Sound (Robert Knudson, Robert J. Glass, Richard
Tyler, Jean-Louis Ducarme).