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)”?