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Sorcerer: The Ultimate Trucking Movie by Ali Karim

17 December 2019 by Edward Martin

Sorcerer 1977: our professional opinion

Take a read of this blog from Ali Karim on the ultimate trucking movie, Sorcerer. 

As a scientist working for John Donovan at JJX Logistics, I (Ali Karim) apply my chemical knowledge and experience in the Trucking of Dangerous Goods to help our customers.

I thought I’d write a little about a favourite film of mine – one that combines my passions, Chemistry and Trucking.

In my teenage years, I was memorised by the 1953 French-Italian thriller film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot titled THE WAGES OF FEAR.

The trailer can be viewed above or from this link HERE

It was re-worked by William Friedkin in 1977 as Sorcerer and is a reworking of Georges Arnaud's 1950 French novel "Le Salaire de la peu".

The trailer can be viewed above or from this link HERE

Sorcerer opened in 1977 during the same week as STAR WARS, and its title was a mystery as it was perhaps trying to attract viewers of Friedkin's THE EXORCIST. It bombed, then again it is a hard film to watch as its nihilism and downbeat premise and execution were at odds with the optimism of STAR WARS as to what it means to be human.

The plot depicts four outcasts from varied backgrounds meeting in a South American village, where they are assigned to transport cargoes of aged, poorly kept dynamite that is so unstable that it is 'sweating' its dangerous basic ingredient, Nitro-Glycerin. The explosives are required to blow-out an oil-field fire, and requires four desperate men to drive the trucks over perilous roads to the oil-field.

It obviously has specific appeal to me and my colleagues at JJX Logistics as it combines Chemistry with Trucking, something we are passionate about.

I have worked internationally in hazardous conditions in some very scary places and found myself in troubling situations in the past - due to my vocation, so I felt a growing unease as the trucks set off with their payload of unstable dangerous goods.

"The Sorcerer is an evil wizard and in this case the evil wizard is fate. The fact that somebody can walk out of their front door and a hurricane can take them away, an earthquake or something falling through the roof. And the idea that we don’t really have control over our own fates, neither our births nor our deaths, it’s something that has haunted me since I was intelligent enough to contemplate something like it"
William Friedkin

Walon Green, the screenwriter, said that he and Friedkin "wanted a cynical movie where fate turns the corner for the people before they turn it themselves".

Director Friedkin considers Sorcerer among one of his favourite works, while Stephen King said at EW "........although Wages of Fear is considered one of the greatest movies of the modern age; I prefer Sorcerer, and consider Roy Scheider's role as Jackie Scanlon one of the two best roles in his entire career...."

Friedkin stated that the premise of The Wages of Fear (both the novel and the first film adaptation) seemed to him a metaphor for "the world [being] full of strangers who hated one another, but if they didn't cooperate, if they didn't work together in some way, they would blow up."

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