Ambitious, exciting and visionary, Sorcerer is the most personal film of William Friedkin . This hallucinatory fable suicidal mission four exiles that accept a large sum of money to transport trucks loaded with explosives through the jungle, to extinguish an oil well. After a disastrous filming, pouting critics and an output overshadowed, among others, by the triumph of Star Wars in 1977 Sorcerer spring indoors throughout the world and soon in a beautiful Blu-Ray edition in France (an edition is already available in the US). The occasion for the director of Exorcist and French Connection to tell the perilous odyssey that now considers his masterpiece .
After a failure at the box office and more than 30 years spent in limbo, Sorcerer spring indoor and soon Blu-Ray in France under acclaim criticism, what do you feel?
A kind of redemption. Without comparing myself to him I have a thought for Vincent van Gogh who painted thousands of paintings and has not sold a single in his lifetime. Even his own brother, which was the profession has failed to find a single buyer and yet today, only billionaires can afford to buy one. It is fascinating to see how the public’s sensitivity can change dramatically in a short time, and how we can move from disgust to acceptance. This release in cinemas around the world, it’s a new life that awaits Sorcerer and even me. I was lucky that Vincent Van Gogh has ever had in his lifetime.
What makes Sorcerer so special in your filmography?
Despite its commercial failure, I see Sorcerer as my most personal film. This is even more important to me. It evokes more intimately than all my other movies my vision of life: a constant mixture of hope and despair. Sorcerer is a fable about the man, of death, of love but also of hope and solidarity. Maybe even friendship. Like my friend Sylvester Stallone I am terrified by death and the idea that one day a sinister knocking at my door to take me all that is dear to me: the people I love my career, my memories and possessions. Sorcerer is a reflection of that existential fear: four characters are aware that they can lose everything from one moment to the other
& gt; & gt;. & gt; Sorcerer, the story
Sorcerer is a remake of Wages of Fear Henry George Clouzot , how came the urge you to make it?
This is a project I had to heart since I am a huge admirer of this masterpiece of Henri-Georges Clouzot (released in 1953) was already adapting a classic Georges Arnaud (published in 1950). At the time, The Wages of Fear was a cult in the eyes of American moviegoers who could see that in art cinemas and testing of large cities. I also thought that, like all masterpieces, including Shakespeare (crossing ages) this story could be told several times as someone proposed a review and a new vision. And then the Wages of Fear illustrates the difficulty that men have to live together and cooperate to survive, even if they are on the verge of explosion. It is devilishly effective.
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The atmosphere of the shoot was particularly tense, it is said that you were considered a kind of director bewitched …
A director bewitched! Me?! a director bewitched? (note: it takes a terrible voice) Who said that? Give me their names!
No one has said openly but that is how it feels when reading scary stories of your employees …
(Editor’s note: it takes the form of a “director bewitched”) I’ll take that as a compliment! (laughs) But know that shooting is not something fun. And the Sorcerer was particularly difficult because all you can see in the film is real! There were no special effects, the jungle and the village that served as decorations were real threats on a daily basis. My team and I were aware of the danger. We all knew it was likely, at best, to be injured, at worst, death. I lost almost 30 kilos and most of us have caught diseases such as malaria. The filming of Sorcerer does not look like one of his films full of special effects where men in capes save the great problems of the world! It was filming with old, heavy and dangerous.
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How you worked
A film is like a knit which each plan would be a mesh. Therefore it was necessary that I have a very specific vision and overall each of the sequences of Sorcerer before they turn. Then had to imagine the progress of each plan and also the arrangement of planes. But the most difficult was to communicate my vision to my team, to be able to give it substance. The painter works with a brush, the musician with an instrument, the director himself with a pencil which weighs 10 tons!
One of the great qualities of Sorcerer is its extraordinary hypnotic power, is that it was the intention or result of his film so special?
Aside from the ending sequence, lunar and surreal, it felt just mainly because Sorcerer contains very little dialogue. It is a choice that I made while I was attending a curious projection of the Exorcist in a non-English speaking country. Copying was not dubbed or subtitled so that an employee of the cinema cut projection, every five minutes to explain what was happening on the screen. A massacre! That is why I vowed to ensure that everything is visually explained in my next film (laughs) .
Why choose Tangerine Dream to compose the soundtracks?
While I was in Germany, a friend told me about a mysterious trio of musicians who were about to do a concert in an open abandoned chapel middle of the Black Forest. Inevitably, he convinced me and we arrived at this amazing place, out of time, where had gathered over a hundred people in total darkness. Tangerine Dream concert lasted more than 4 hours. There was no singing, just layers of keyboards and hypnotic flights. It was amazing! I went to meet them after their concert, saying “I do not know what my next film but I wish you were dialing the music” . Later, I showed them the script Sorcerer and they sent me dozens and dozens of K7. Without having seen the film before the end of the assembly, they were able to express its essence with sound impressions. Unfortunately, I could not keep a small part of their work to the assembly.
What is the message of Sorcerer and the long quest he staged?
As I mentioned, Sorcerer is a great appeal for calm that can be launched at the level of nations and communities If you do not cooperate, it explodes! Instead of letting them yell, in debates or the UN should bring all these people who hate each other: Christians, Jews, Muslims, gay, straight, trans, orient and West … should calm them by projecting their film Jacques Tati. Everyone loves the cinema and the language of a silent film is quite universal. My first film, The People vs. Paul Crump , was a documentary about a condemned man has reopened trial. So that judges eventually pardon him. I was naive enough to believe that making films can save lives … then I got to Hollywood and I realized that all the producers wanted was to make money …
Sorcerer emerge in France on July 15 and is included in our special issue 100 masterpieces that you did not see, from the newsstand July 10.
Interview by Mathias Averty .