Simply A Masterpiece
As somebody who had not heard any of this before, it became a curious phenomenon to sit and watch a film and slowly have the realities begin to click into place.
By the time the dramatic fireworks start popping off, each one feels earned.
there was a time when such movies weren't made and remained under- noticed for such upbringing of topics and issues but there has always been a wide list of movies that represent the link between religion and the man and WISE BLOOD is that one. this piece got under my viewing on only two grounds (first, it is an adaptation of Connor's novel and second it is john Huston's film) & i should say that it remains as truthful and as lively as the real story is. here, not divulging much of the plot, i will say that if you are going through or gone such incidents where you wanted to know what GOD is actually then this movie will answer some of yours. plus, if you are so much into all that toxic godliness blinded by the real and reality around even then you should see this piece. to end, i must say that all the actors make it genuine and lively otherwise story wouldn't just pierce into your thinking. do make it your definite watch.
So John Huston's "Wise Blood" is a cult adaptation of a cult novel, and has a very cult-y feel to it, as in offbeat and satirical.It's also a film with a lot of odd scenarios and very strange, earnest characters that try to reach out to the main character of Hazel Motes. Hazel has just returned from an unspecified war, and has a lot of foul baggage that he carries around from his days as the son of a manic preacher.People try to get to know this defiant, and sometimes irrational man, but the only thing he has on his mind is spreading the idea that people don't need Jesus to save them. The only problem is, he's living in a community where Jesus is the bedrock of every day life."Wise Blood" has a few faults though. Sometimes the characters border on downright irritating, and there seems to be a curious lack of momentum to the story. The filmmakers seemed to dryly interpret the source material, and figured the result would be able to stand on its own. But the viewer is quite often left in the dark to a lot of the events. One part of the climax has a character blinding himself with chemicals, and this should have been the most dramatic part of the story, but is instead almost glossed over so matter-o-factly that it only further alienates the viewer from understanding the character motivations.Believe me, it's a Weird film with a capital W. But from amongst it, the towering Brad Dourif shines in an attention-grabbing role, and he only shows his range and talent as a character actor. There are times when he becomes so fixated with fighting back against those he thinks are 'hypocrites' that he becomes almost frightening. The only problem is that the rest of the film is somewhat lackadaisical about its more disturbing content, and the lassez-faire attitude keeps the audience at arms length throughout.What it lacks in direct punch, "Wise Blood" makes up for as a twisted morality tale on the lengths that religious obsession and guilt will string those along, in this very dark comedy. A low 7 from me.
A hefty percentage of the comments on "Wise Blood" dwell on its relationship to the novel from which it was drawn -- pro and con. Brilliant faithful adaptation says one moviegoer. Trashy sacrilege screams another. Those of us who haven't read the book are stuck with the movie which balances superb atmosphere with strange storytelling. Let's start on the plus side. John Huston and his crew have caught not only the look but the feel, almost the smell, of a midsize southern town in Summer. The weathered frame houses, the sagging streets, the one-screen cinema, the tired used car lot with its rusty Ford Fairlanes, they form a richly authentic backdrop for the action. That's where "Wise Blood" gets into trouble. Who is Hazel,played by Brad Dourif, what war did he emerge from, why does he want to be a preacher and most of all, why does he suffer psychotic temper tantrums? You'll have to figure that out for yourself -- along with why a would-be acolyte steals an embalmed monkey for him and why the nymphet daughter of a "blind" evangelist is smitten with him, down to her threadbare stockings. Sure, there are allegorical references galore throughout the film. The phoniness of Gonga, the gorilla (a bruiser in an ape suit) matched against the phoniness of street corner preachers. But in the end, maybe you'll say to yourself (but never breathe a word to more ephemeral friends)I just wish the darned thing made more sense.
THE FILM: In the late 70's John Huston was approached by Michael Fitzgerald to find out if Huston was willing to direct an adaptation of Flannery O'Conner's Wise Blood. Huston agreed if Fitzgerald could get the money together. He did, and they shot it quickly, using no big name stars on a minimal budget. To play the lead role of disillusioned would be preacher Hazel Motes, Huston cast Brad Dourif, who had come off a major success playing Billy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest in 1975.The rest of the cast was rounded out by multiple low-profile relatively unknown actors, with Harry Dean Stanton and Ned Beatty playing two of such parts.THE PLOT: Young poor, ambitious and uneducated Hazel Motes returns to his southern town to look for his family. They have gone, and the house of his youth stands unoccupied and rotting. He then buys himself a suit, and heads for the city. There he meats Enoch, a clinger who takes a strange liking to the stoic and anti-social Motes. Motes also encounters Asa Hawkes, a "blind" preacher who goes around on the streets and begs for money with his promiscuous daughter Sabbath.Hawkes's preaching of Jesus and god sets Motes off on an anti Jesus tirade, and it is then that Motes decides to create a church, but one without Jesus. He buys a banged up car and goes around preaching on the streets.THE CRITICISM:This may be one of the strangest films I've ever seen. Each scene adds a layer of disbelief upon the last, and Dourif's performance just gets more and more strange and interesting. Hazel Motes is a man so confused by life that he can only see one thing, God. But God is the thing that blocks him from doing anything. Due to childhood trauma at the hands of his preacher grandfather, Hazel Motes doesn't know anything about life, except that he is afraid of God.When he hears someone preaching Jesus, this childhood trauma manifests itself in the form of anger, and he decides to preach, but not Jesus, but rather a form of anti-Jesus. In this form Brad Dourif manages to suspend your disbelief as you wonder exactly what this man is all about, his motives and ambitions. As Huston said himself, Hazel is a one note guy, and that one note is god. Weather it be the fear of God, or the fear of the possibility of God, religion is Hazel's life.The film has been called many things, but cult film pretty much wraps it up. On release, there was little to no impact made, but over the years the film has garnered a sort of reputation. It is an odd little curio, and a strange film stylistically. It feels like the work of a young beginner, than the work of an old master. The film feels uniquely fresh, and is quite entertaining as a result. However I cannot give it a great mark because it is not a great film.It is certainly entertaining, but there are too many flaws with the film for me to call it a masterpiece it is an incredible piece of off-kilter entertainment. The performances are quite good, and the direction is stupendous. However I have a major quibble. The ending. I am still trying to process it (SPOILERS follow).Hazel's car is stopped by a policeman who pushes it into a river. Hazel blinds himself, and then keeps inflicting various forms of physical punishment to himself (barbed wire on the torso, rocks in the shoes). Huston explains the ending by saying that the whole film is Hazel's fight with Jesus, and in the end Jesus wins. The ending is certainly very effective in this message, but it was intensely hard to predict. But then again, Hazel Motes is a very unpredictable young man. (SPOILERS END)I will spend my last paragraph speaking of an odd side story that occurs. Enoch becomes obsessed with a man in a monkey costume, and with shaking his hand. He then takes the suit (it is unclear what he does with the man), and walks around shaking people's hands. He is pathetic, but he comes off as scary. The same way Hazel comes off. Like a boy who doesn't know what do do when he grows up, drifting aimlessly from place to place just looking for something to latch on to. Enoch latches onto Hazel, and Hazel latches onto religion.Wise Blood, 1979, Starring: Brad Dourif, Harry Dean Stanton and Ned Beatty, Directed by Jhon Huston, 8/10 (B+)(This is part of an ongoing project to watch and review every John Huston movie. You can view this and other reviews at http://everyjohnhustonmovie.blogspot.ca/)