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Tangerine Dream - Sorcerer CD (album) cover

SORCERER

Tangerine Dream

 

Progressive Electronic

3.26 | 133 ratings

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stefro
Prog Reviewer
4 stars A remake of the classic French thriller 'The Wages Of Fear', William Friedkin's $20m remake - titled 'Sorceror' - would prove to be the first flop of the Hollywood director's then stellar career. Having previously excited and shocked audiences in equal measure with the gritty cop thriller 'The French Connection' and the seminal supernatural horror of 'The Exorcist', both enormous commercial and critical successes, Friedkin pretty much had carte blanche to do as he pleased. Like many of the 'New Hollywood' set of film-makers(the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Steve Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman etc) Friedkin was a huge fan of the French new wave and cinema verite. Made in 1953, Henri-George Clouzot's 'The Wages Of Fear' was classic suspenser, a brilliantly executed thriller about four desperate fugitives trapped in a steamy South American hell-hole who are offered crazy money to transport a cargo of highly-explosive nitro-glycerine through three-hundred miles of dangerous rain forest terrain. The film would feature all the hallmarks of 1950's French cinema, with a grainy, documentary-style feel, artful photography and plenty of tense discussions on the existensial state of man's primal fears. It was ripe for a Hollywood re-dressing, and Friedkin seemed the perfect choice to take on the difficult task of doing so. Sadly, however, the film proved a financial disaster, and for several reasons. Firstly, the studio made the oh-so enormous mistake of releasing 'Sorceror' on the very same weekend as a certain sci-fi blockbuster called 'Star Wars'. Secondly, the film featured no real stars bar 'Jaws' actor Roy Scheider, not quite an A-lister, who was otherwise backed by a cast of talented but relatively unknown(In North America at least) Europeans. Thirdly, Friedkin completely overestimated his audience, pulling out every cinema verite trick in the book and loading 'Sorceror' with complex political themes, deliberately washed-out colours and a dark and foreboding atmosphere. Finally, 'Sorceror' was just far too long for mainstream audiences to take, the film pulled for extensive(and expensive) re-cutting after just a week and then re-released to little effect, the whole time completely overshadowed by Lucas' super-popular space western. But here's the punch-line. 'Sorceror', despite it's negative reputation, is actually a superb film. Sadly, however, it would spell the end for Friedkin as a major director and he would never again reach the heights scaled by his early-seventies output. With all the fuss regarding the film's financial failing, the soundtrack by Tangerine Dream seems to have been completely overlooked. Friedkin, of course, had a penchant for choosing music by experimental rock acts for his movies as opposed to classical scores(had had used Mike Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells' for 'The Exorcist' to great effect) and his choice of the teutonic trio for the 'Sorceror' soundtrack now seems positively inspired. Like the film, the soundtrack is a dark, ominous, brooding beast, full of sparse electronic rhythms. It's also one of those great movie soundtracks that can be listened to as a stand-alone album, always a good sign, and one of the better Tangerine Dream offerings from one of their strongest periods, perfectly complimenting Friedkin's moody visuals and the film's overall foreboding tone. Viewed now, both film and soundtrack stand up incredibly well, showcasing the inate talents of both group and director and proving a stark reminder of just how high the creative bar was during the 1970s, a decade when Hollywood produced proper, grown-up films and music was so much more than just confection for kids. A strange and alluring album, 'Sorceror', much like the movie it accompanies, deserves to be wholly re-evaluated, and those that do so will find a challenging and mysterious album full of fascinating moments. This may be Tangerine Dream at their least accesible, yet it also finds them mining the spirit of their early masterworks - albums such as 'Zeit' - to very impressive effect.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

stefro | 4/5 |

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