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Enthralling, nail-biting drama.
In a remote South American town, four men are hired by an American oil company to transport two truckloads of nitroglycerin to an oil field, to put out a fire. It's a very hazardous task - the nitroglycerin can explode for the slightest reason, the road is treacherous and the journey is a long one. However, the money is very good and their current situation in the town is rather dire - they will do anything to improve their situation.
Great thriller-drama by French director HG Clouzot. Starts slowly and even once the hazardous journey is in progress, it doesn't seem that brilliant. However, Clouzot builds the tension and from a point it is absolutely nail-biting stuff. The scene with the boulder has to be one of the most tense movie scenes I've watched in my life.
A good character-drama too - the way the characters develop and the relationships between the four change adds a new dimension to the drama and makes for very engaging viewing.
Not perfect though. Some events and plot devices don't make much sense, though aren't crucial to the movie. The ending felt quite silly and contrived. A similar result but with a more plausible, less predictable, less stupid way of getting there would have seen the movie get a perfect score.
Wow. That's some serious tension.
An incredible masterpiece you won't ever forget.
The one thing you can’t deny with The Wages of Fear is that it is built to create tension in the viewer. Every moment of the film could lead to the death of all the main characters if the smallest thing goes wrong. The drama of this made it hard for me to breathe at first. Some of that tension fizzled for me because it seemed that the volatility of the cargo varied based on certain situations. There were still some scary moments later in the film, but I didn’t feel like I had a good handle on the level of danger any more. They needed standard rules so I could track the risk of death at any given time. The interactions between the characters were nuanced and effective. I loved how things developed over time as the severity of what they were doing got to the characters. It reminded me of one of my favorite classic films, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, where relationships gradually deteriorate when the stress gets to them as well. I didn’t quite understand all the drama that was going on between these guys before the trip was started and why they weren’t getting along, but it all came to a head later in the film so the early scenes didn’t matter as much to me. Then the movie ended and I was mad. I don’t like to spoil much of anything when I write these reviews, but that conclusion drove me crazy. I could see it coming and tried to will The Wages of Fear into a different ending. It was so close to the perfect wrap up to the story, and then they had to go and do that. It wasn’t a dealbreaker, and I wouldn’t dissuade people from seeing the film because of the ending, but I don’t know if I’ll want to watch it again. The Wages of Fear excels at making you worry about and care for the characters, it’s just a shame that the writers hated them so much.
The first hour of The Wages of Fear is a bit like a crummy version of Treasure of the Sierra Madre. It is silly anti-capitalist propaganda, but mostly forgettable. Everything that happens after that--every moment of which is breathtaking--redeems the first act. The long drive to the oil fields is tense and perfectly executed. If you liked SNL's Toonces the Driving Cat, you'll love The Wages of Fear!
The isolation these characters are restricted to only packs in the desire to see them prevail from their graduating suspenseful situations.
Not only does Clouzot fuel his film with tension from the very first minutes to the last, he also handles it with such a virtuosity that he makes it rise, reaching an unbearable climax at the end. Moreover, along with his monstrous demonstration of direction comes Montand's terrific presence on the screen, which is at the core of a poignant political satire. Indeed, a sharp criticism of companies and poverty can be felt through this story based on Arnaud's novel where, for a couple of bucks, four men, four friends accept that nytroglicerin will threaten their lives. On the whole, 'The Wages of Fear' is a superb piece of cinema.
Le salaire de la peur (1953)
Once The Engines of The Trucks Start Up, The Film Is Masterful
20 March 2017
I suppose if you were to tally up all the marks, The Wages of Fear is one of the few movies of all time to have a superior remake. That film is in the form of Sorcerer, a 1977 masterpiece from William Friedkin. Dramatically, Wages of Fear is better. And the main section of the film featuring the trucks is actually more suspenseful in the original. However, The Wages of Fear is so uneven with all its other aspects it's hard to ignore. For instance, the first hour or so plods and lacks quality. Its editing is strange, it comes off to be cliché, and what happens is genuinely uninteresting. Only the second time viewing Sorcerer did I realize how engaging the first two parts are. Each of the four protagonists' stories are so genuinely interesting that it hooks us to watch more. Only when the trucks start up in Wages of Fear does an audience member's eyes open. And by that, I mean completely ajar. Although structurally the half of the film featuring the trucks is a bit reminiscent of a board game (you hit different obstacles that could technically be put in any order), I found myself completely invested in the characters suddenly and I was dripping sweat in suspense. Even Sorcerer, although technically much better, doesn't really match this aspect, albeit coming inches close. Another plus is the ending, which reminds me a lot of my favorite film, The Italian Job (1969). Yet, through all its major advantages (which outweigh the negatives so much in fact that the 9 star rating proves adequate), Sorcerer is just a better film.
P.S. If you're reading this and you just so happen to work at some major video game company, I suggest you consider this for one of the games. It would make one heck of a video game.
Wow, talk about suspense! The part where the steel wire gets caught on the truck, oh my God, my butthole was so tight, hah.
I love how there was like five different languages spoken in the movie, I definitely put the subtitles on. I also like how gritty and unrelenting the whole feel of the movie was.
Overall, it was a great ride of suspense!
Excellent movie, brilliant, outstanding in every aspect. Performances, suspense, action, direction, cinematography you name it. But what I really can't understand why would he drive like that in the end? It's just inconceivable to me and to be honest absolutely unrealistic. You feel nothing but irritation watching him driving like that and you know that he's going to crash.