A Film by William Friedkin
New Books Network 2023
In 1973, William Friedkin terrorized the world with The Exorcist and then decided to make a film even more grim: a remake of George Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear. This was an audacious move, since the 1953 original was already well-loved and regarded as one of the most suspenseful films of all time. But Friedkin followed his muse and created Sorcerer (1977), which belongs in the pantheon of Great Underappreciated Films. Like The Exorcist, it’s a frightening peek into Hell; unlike that film, however, evil is pervasive rather than localized. No exorcist can cleanse Porvenir of evil; Max Von Sydow isn’t showing up any time soon. You can try to outrun the Sorcerer, but it’s like driving a truck and trying to drive away from its contents. Rarely has a completely nihilistic and sobering film experience been so exhilarating.
William Friedkin’s memoir, The Friedkin Connection, is an engaging read and includes a chapter on the making of Sorcerer.