Sorcerer’s only Oscar nomination.

Sorcerer‘s lone recognition by the Academy was a nomination for Best Sound. Listed on the certificate were Robert Knudson, Robert J. Glass, Richard Tyler and Jean-Louis Ducarme. Yet again, Sorcerer lost out to Star Wars. (“Buzz” Knudson actually lost twice that year, since Close Encounters Of The Third Kind was another nominee.)

Watching the film today, even in its lousy state on DVD, the sound design is terrific — maybe the best I’ve ever heard. (The laserdisc, to my ears, sounds a bit better.) Bugs and birds and dogs and coughing and mud help establish the setting (and the squalor). Rain is a constant, roaring, surrounding presence that doesn’t conveniently back off when there’s dialogue to be heard. The creaks and snaps of the bridges add to the suspense*. But the real marvel here is how the trucks are presented. They don’t rumble or purr — we all know what an internal combustion engine sounds like. These moan and growl likes beasts, as alive as the doomed men who drive them, and creak and rattle like the hunks of Frankenstein’d-together junk we know they are. I’d love to know how they pulled if all off.

Put Sorcerer on sometime, loud. Don’t watch, just listen. You’ll find that its sound is every bit as impressive as those incredible visuals.

* Has anyone noticed that in the bridge sequence, bits of Tangerine Dream’s score (“Abyss,” I think) come and go underneath Keith Jarrett’s “Spheres (Movement 3)”?

About Toby

I'm a writer. And a dad. And a husband. And a record collector. And a movie geek (if the movies are old). And I really wish I had a hot rod.
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4 Responses to Sorcerer’s only Oscar nomination.

  1. Man, I really appreciate what you’re doing here. This blog will become legendary source of all materials of all kinds related to this great, great movie. Some time ago I mentioned that I have German cut of Sorcerer that has about 16 minutes not included in the US one, but is also considerably shorter (despite inserting those deleted scenes). Here’s a comparison of those two: Cheers!

    • Toby says:

      Thanks so much for the encouragement. Judging from the hits the blog is getting, there are lots of people as crazy about this film as I am.

      Digging around for stuff to post has made me appreciate Sorcerer more than I ever did. What a movie.

      Haven’t seen the foreign version, but I’ve read quite a bit on how it was done. What did you think of it?

  2. Overall it’s far worse in itself, because it was cut in a haphazard fashion, however as regards the potential of those unused scenes, I think some of them flesh out the story and the characters a little bit, though some other ones are obviously b-rolls / alternate takes (and certain ones make movie look like utter direct-to-video trash, though some of them present really interesting angles) but for example there’s an actual explanation why they had to go the exact depot for the explosives…There are also very minor insertions, like 2-3 seconds, that wouldn’t also hurt the movie or a homosexual innuendo from Nilo further blurring the true nature of his persona. One scene is particularly very tense (for Jackie and Nilo, and it’s the only time Nilo drives the truck!), it’s right after the montage with “Grind”, and its insertion might have benefited the movie (the track “Rain Forest” is playing during the scene). I think I know why some scenes were cut, to avoid focusing on one team for too long, or not to soften the tension and uncertaintity (for example I didn’t know if Serrano and Martinez made it in the theatrical cut, here we have extremely atmospheric sequence right afterwards, but it lessens the tension). Several scenes are prolonged or sequenced tad differently, the music’s placement is also different at times, etc. Overall those scenes had real potential to enhance the movie a bit, though none of them are game-changers or take away anything from the original cut. It’s not like with Aliens, where I can’t stand or watch the theatrical version anymore, no, nothing like that.

    By the way Funny how now people say that some movies are too stupid for Americans, and here it was the other way round, some things were made more explicit in this version and there’s actually a happy ending…

    If there will ever be a proper Bluray version, I hope someone (Friedkin or Criterion) will make second cut of the movie, inserting the most appropriate unused scenes and the whole thing gets 2 discs, one of them the original theatrical cut and this new cut…

  3. Pingback: “No One Is Just Anything”: In William Friedkin's ‘Sorcerer’, Four Reduced Men Must Gamble with Life to Give It Value • Cinephilia & Beyond

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