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Plot: A Southerner--young, poor, ambitious but uneducated--determines to become something in the world. He decides that the best way to do that is to become a preacher and start up his own church. Runtime: 106 mins Release Date: 24 Oct 1979
A perfect adaptation of O'Connor's masterpiece. (by coop-16)
It is rare to find an great film adaptation of a great book. One can think of great films that have been made from novels of the second or third rank: Dodsworth, The Age of Innocence,L.A. Confidential,The Magnificent Ambersons, Barry Lyndon. However, one can think of very few great film adaptations of great novels. In fact, great novels are often made into badly flawed or even poor films. One thinks of all the bad adaptations of Faulkner,Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy, as well as the seeming near impossibility of making a great film from Joyce or Proust. There are a few exceptions to this rule. <more>
Interestingly, two of the best were directed by John Huston. The first was that perfect adaptation of one of the five best short stories ever written, The Dead. The other was this incredibly powerful, chilling, sardonic, profoundly moving, and superbly acted version of Flannery O'Connors tale of the "Christ-haunted" American south, Wise Blood. Huston was by his own account, a less than religious man. It is therefore ironic that the very Catholic friends and executors of that supremely ironic Catholic novelist, Flannery O' Connor should have chosen him to direct this, her masterpiece. I can hardly think of a more faithful, a more precise or a more literate transcription of one of the supreme masterpieces of literature to the screen. A truly great, searing, blackly humorous, extraordinarily moving, film.
Brad Dourif's performance as Hazel Motes is one of the finest I have ever seen. His talent is only matched by the brilliant direction of John Huston and the writing of Flannery O'Connor. Also Harry Dean Stanton and Amy Write are perfect together as the Father, Daughter team. It is sad, really, that films of this caliber aren't being produced anymore. Excellent acting. excellent writing. excellent direction. excellent soundtrack, and art direction. I applaud John Huston and the producers for doing the right thing here, and making a film that captured the feelings and the soul of a <more>
writer, O'Conner, and didn't give into basic, commercial self - interest.There was a time when FILMS meant something to people. We don't need another "Chucky get's Lucky" film; what we need are compelling films for people like Brad Dourif and the like minded talent in his company to have a chance to work in.
religion is the opiate of the people (by frantz21)
Wise bloodIs it a road movie or is a critique of religion - just what is it ?well you have to view a a very bizarre movie with a very bizarre and well acted k lead. to find out There are brilliant performances from the leads and most of the cast It starts out with a demobilised soldier who finds everything has changed at home including his parents have died after journeying home; with nothing to keep him in his home town this , intense and bellicose , young man journeys around the south finding salesmen masquerading as men of the religion and people willing falling in with this charade- <more>
hazel motes decides t create his own religion one of truth and fact and one without Jesus. But hazel motes has his own daemons which manifest itself in dreams about sex and masochism he goes from putting stones ins his boots a child hood thing to barbed wire around his torso and blinding himself. He is asexual but not homosexual and deeply disturbed.Watch it ,as you know religion can do these things to a mind- albeit a delicate mind .
Preaching the Church Without Christ, Hazel Motes Brad Dourif tells anyone that will listen that he wants a church that is free from salvation and dogma, a church "where the blind don't see and the lame don't walk and what's dead stays that way". With existentialist overtones, he says, `Where you came from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it." In John Huston's darkly satiric film Wise Blood, adapted from Flannery O' Connor's first novel, Haze is caught in a struggle <more>
between the obsessions of his past and his desire to live the truth. The more he resists his rigid Christian upbringing represented by his fundamentalist grandfather, the closer he is drawn to it. No matter what he does, Jesus moves "from tree to tree in the back of his mind, the wild ragged figure motioning him to turn around and come off into the dark." Raised in a predominately Protestant area, Flannery O' Connor was a devout Catholic whose novels and short stories paint a tragi-comic portrait of Bible Belt evangelism and the hypocrisy that thrives in decaying Southern towns. While the film is a human rather than a Christian interpretation and the ending is simply tragic without being spiritually revealing, it still remarkably captures the essence of the novel and, if nothing else, will send viewers scurrying to their nearest library. Set sometime in the mid-twentieth century, Haze has returned from the war with a big chip on his shoulder. Without joy he returns to his family home in Eastrod, Tennessee but on finding it run down and deserted takes a train to the fictional Taulkinham. Here he is seen by everyone that he meets to be a preacher even though he strongly protests. Even the taxi driver tells him that his hat and "a look in your face somewheres" make him look like a preacher. Brad Dourif's appearance suggests Haze with a "nose like the shrike's bill, eyes the color of pecan shells and set so deep they are like passages leading nowhere." When he meets a blind street preacher Asa Hawks Harry Dean Stanton and his fifteen-year old daughter, Sabbath Lily Amy Wright , childhood memories are reactivated and he proudly tells them that he doesn't believe in anything. With a zeal that might be described as the passion of the anti-Christ, Haze buys a broken down "rat-coloured" car that becomes the rock upon which he builds his new church, the Church Without Christ. Wearing a preacher's bright blue suit and black hat, Haze stands on the hood of his car and addresses a handful of stragglers, spewing his contempt for Christianity. "Listen you people", he says, "I'm going to preach there was no fall because there was nothing to fall from and no redemption because there was no fall and no judgment because there wasn't the first two. Nothing matters but that Jesus was a liar." When anyone criticizes his car, Hazel defends himself with the statement, "Nobody with a good car needs to be justified." Haze attracts an assortment of mostly unlikable characters: con-artists, frauds, and women without moral discernment. While some are repugnant, others are simply amusing and the film remains watchable because of its savage humour and colourful language. For example, when one character describes the Welfare woman who cared for him, "She sho was ugly. She had theseyer brown glasses and her hair was so thin it looked like ham gravy trickling over her skull", and, "a red-haired waitress at Walgreen's has "green eyes set in pink" so that she looks like a picture of a Lime Cherry Surprise." One of the most compelling characters, Enoch Emery Dan Shor , a slow-witted eighteen-year old with "wise blood" like his daddy, provides the comic relief. Enoch is so desperate for friendship that, mimicking the travelling Gonga the Gorilla show, he steals the gorilla costume and sneaks up on people hoping they will shake his hand. In another sequence, thinking it may be the "new Jesus", Enoch steals a shrunken mummy from the museum and gives it to Haze. When Haze becomes fed up with the town and its inhabitants, he tries to leave but is stopped by a sheriff who tells him he isn't going anywhere and proceeds to push his car into a lake in a parody of the baptism ritual. His behavior becomes more and more extreme, having decided that he cannot live in both worlds, he chooses to live according to his convictions. Lacking the ability to express love, he internalizes the car's destruction and now sees himself as "not clean". He stuffs his shoes with glass and rocks and wraps barbed wire across his chest, then throws lime on his face. Suggesting a parallel with the story of Paul on the road to Damascus, he loses his sight but regains his vision. As strongly as he has denied Christ's presence, however, he now cannot resist it. In spite of himself, Haze achieves the grace that he sought to avoid.
This sly, little film captures Ms. O'Connor's novel with a spirit of empathy. Brad Dourif is "crazy" as Hazel Motes in a different mode than is usual for him CUCKOO'S NEST, voice of CHUCKY . Daniel Schorr is splendid as his little helper, Enoch Emery and the rest of the cast work wonders. A 9 out of 10. Best performance Daniel Schorr.Flannery O'Connor's short stories would make stunning films Sam Shepard crossed with Hitchcock . Amy Wright is a true original and Ned Beatty so often miscast is pathetic and yet all too familiar and human. One of the best of <more>
1980 after RAGING BULL and THE ELEPHANT MAN . Try to find this one if you can. Haunting, touching, Gothic Black Comedy!
This is not an easy movie to get a handle on, so I'm not surprised reviewers either love it or hate it. Now, I've neither read the O'Connor novel nor lived in the South nor read the Bible since Sunday school. As a result, I have to take the movie as just that, a movie, without benefit of outside comparison.I get the impression that underneath all the black humor and exaggerated characters, something profound is going on. But exactly what? Perhaps you need that outside reference to penetrate the subtext. Then again, perhaps the profound subtext is illusory, like Hazel's view of <more>
Christianity, such that the narrative amounts to little more than artfully eccentric entertainment, courtesy sly old John Huston.The following are what I hope are helpful interpretations, generally not emphasized by other reviewers, many of whose commentaries were, nonetheless, very helpful to me.Above all, Hazel has come to hate hypocrisy. His motto appears to be: If you own the Truth, then live it. For Hazel, Truth is the illusory nature of Christian metaphysics, a disavowal that doesn't necessarily equate with atheism , and by golly he's going to live that truth in his own peculiar way. Thus, the hard-eyed obsessive stare, the refusal of commitment sex Sabbath but not commercial sex an over-priced 4 dollars , and the rather heartless rejection of the pathetically friendless Enoch. In short, like his adversary, the true Christian proselytizer, Hazel is a driven man.The trouble is that he knows only one way of spreading his truth-- by preaching angrily on street corners. Worse, his gospel is one of pure and insistent negatives perhaps why atheism has never been popular , for example,"when you're dead, you're dead!" -- not exactly a crowd-pleaser. Nor, for that matter, is he going to allow Preacher Sholes Ned Beatty to dilute that negative message with a crowd-pleasing brand of hucksterism. Hazel may be strange, but he is no hypocrite.Now, it's clear that the broken-down jalopy means more to Hazel than just another hunk of iron. He's always praising it, even as it coughs smoke and bleeds fluids. It's his chariot, and while it might not take him to heaven, it will take him to the next town to spread his Word. Note that he even uses it to slay the pathetic pretender who would take his place on the street corner. Moreover, it's not until Hazel loses that chariot hilariously that he takes on the role of the martyred prophet. After all, rejection now means he has no other place he can get to.For me, the most revealing part of the film is Enoch's Dan Shor pathetic efforts at establishing contact with another human being. Huston, of course, doesn't play up the sentiment, but it's there anyway. Also, this may constitute the most damaging perspective on the dominant Christian culture of the movie-- even more damaging than Hazel's centerpiece non-belief. After all, if Jesus' message is unconditional love, why is Enoch alone and abandoned in an empty world of nominal Jesus followers. Nor, for that matter, is Hazel's brand of soulless non-belief any help either.Then too, just count the number of happy smiles in the film-- practically none, except when the kids are reaching out to the fake human, Gongo the gorilla. Poor Enoch thinks that by donning Gongo's costume, people will finally reach out to him. But there's no such contact in this atomized world of social rejects. In fact, a dominant theme appears to be just that, rejection-- Hazel rejects Jesus, Sabbath, his landlady, Enoch, Preacher Sholes, while even the cop rejects Hazel's jalopy, at the same time, the whole seedy community rejects Enoch. Quite a commentary on an environment where Jesus is advertised on every big rock and sold on every street corner as a friend to the friendless.Now, I don't know if there is any particular moral to the foregoing, but if there is, I suspect it's not a comforting one. Anyway, the movie is full of colorful characters, offbeat situations, and is never, never predictable. So, like the film or not, I expect that it's one you're not likely to forget.
Demented, satiric oddball, cult film crying out to be rediscovered by a new audience (by chaos-rampant)
What other testament to how criminally neglected this film is other than the fact it has a rough 900 votes at the time of writing this? A movie directed by Hollywood titan John Huston of all people. That's not to say WISE BLOOD is not a flawed film, few if any such films exist after all, nor that it has that dramatic wholesomeness and clear and profound characterization that makes something like THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE the classic it is, yet, much like 80's cult paean REPO MAN, it remains endlessly watchable and fascinating in its own demented way.The movie follows the trials <more>
and tribulations of Hazel Motes, a young man fresh back from a war not specified which - any war will do really somewhere in the deep South who starts out as an angry man who believes in no saviours and no dogmas and dreams of a Church of Christ without Christ and slowly finds himself digressing out of circumstances out of his hand to that which he most loathes. It's not specified to what extent the war changed him as a man or if it did at all but it appears his fundamendalist Christian grandfather played in a flashback cameo by John Huston hisself had a larger impact in his formative years than any war trauma.Turning from fierce individualist and hater of preachers to zealous preacher of his own church where there is neither fall, redemption or judgement because there's nothing to fall from and nothing to be redeemed for, and from preacher to self-tormenting repentant, Brad Dourif brings Hazel Motes and his monomaniac pursuit alive on screen with burning passion. Always tense and ready to lash out at everyone and anyone, he's a seething mass of tendons and nerves writhing with agitation.I have not read Flannery O'Connor's original novel nor have I been brought up in a Protestant or Catholic background or the South for that matter , but there's something captivating about Wise Blood beyond and despite its particular subject matter. That elusive quality that turns a good movie into a haunting one. Still, it's easy to see why it failed to find an audience when it came out and has been largely forgotten ever since. The seriocomic mood is perhaps a bit too incosistent for the viewer who needs to quickly determine what kind of response the movie before him demands. Part religious drama, part road movie, part demented black comedy, part satiric oddity, Wise Blood is as hard to file under a specific label as it is to watch without a reaction. Yet it doesn't fail in any of them, and that's why it's such a bonafide cult film.Blessed with a powerhouse performance by Brad Dourif, enhanced by cameos of such character actor stalwarts as Harry Dean Stanton in the role of blind preacher and Ned Beatty in the role of preacher manager , the picturesque baroque of the American South, and assured direction by venerable Hollywood giant John Huston, Wise Blood, in all its southern Gothic glory, is a cult film crying out to be rediscovered by a new audience.
I'm used to watching odd films, and this movie may be one of the oddest films I've ever seen. I haven't read too many of Flannery O'Connor's material, except for a few short stories here and there. Her stories are strange, colorful, bizarre, and John Huston's vision has managed to capture that essence. Hazel Motes wants to start a church, the Church without Jesus, after coming home from the war. While he crusades his ministry on the streets of the Deep South, he meets several fanatical characters... the blind preacher, the preacher's degenerate 15 yr old daughter, <more>
the homeless and friendless teenager; all of these characters add up to something to the story... I don't quite know what it is, but it's something you won't forget. Often times humorous, very offbeat and at the end macabre, this movie will linger around your head long after it's finished and it will haunt you in a loving manner that all good movies should do.