1977 / Director. William Friedkin.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Seeing SORCERER on the big screen was an experience. After years of restoration, William Friedkin's 1977 classic has been given new life and is perhaps more powerful than ever. The film tells the story of four men who flee separate parts of the world and find themselves together in a small South American village where they take on a death defying task of driving decades old nitroglycerin thorough the merciless mountainous jungle to a remote oil refinery. The film begins with a series of unrelated vignettes, which give each of the characters a back story. One is a hitman, another is a terrorist, another is a gangster and another is a disgraced business man. Each have fled their home countries and sought asylum in the same poverty stricken village. When the opportunity to make good money arises they volunteer themselves for the task. The film then chronicles their efforts to transport the volatile explosives through some of the most treacherous and forbidding environments in the world. In two unreliable and corroded trucks these four men embark on an adventure that has to be seen to be believed.
SORCERER is breathtaking stuff. William Friedkin is a brilliant filmmaker and choosing a favourite film of his is almost impossible. His films incLude THE FRENCH CONNECTION, THE EXORCIST and CRUISING (amongst others) and having now seen SORCERER twice I can unequivocally say that SORCERER is his masterpiece. In fact it is some of the most incredible filmmaking that I have ever seen. What he has captured on screen is gobsmacking, especially when factoring in its era. At a time when CGI was non-existent and everything on camera was practical, his scenes of peril put you right on the edge of your seat. The set piece of the film is an incredible bridge crossing scene, which is featured on the poster. This is one of the most exciting and spectacular moments I have ever seen in cinema. For this scene alone, SORCERER is amongst the greatest films ever made... the performances are all exceptional and the players all put themselves through the ringer. Roy Scheider has such a wonderful screen presence and his is supported by equally captivating personalities.
The title itself has been the subject of debate since the film's release in 1977. The word SORCERER itself refers to the name inscribed onto one of the trucks. There is no supernatural component to the story and this confusion is probably what caused the film to suffer to much during it's original release. It was also released alongside STAR WARS at a time when sci-fi was ruling the box office. And so "SORCERER" was definitely a very misleading title. However, time has served the film well. The digital restoration of the film is beautiful and the title lends itself well to the story. I cannot pinpoint why I like the title SORCERER or why it suits, but it is definitely a point of discussion. This is one of those films you need to see before you die... so put it on your list.