Monday, July 20, 2009

Some notes on Clouzot's The Wages of Fear (1953)

1. Those two (above) are called Mario and Luigi. What are the chances? Unfortunately, the one who looks like Super Mario is called Luigi, and the one called Mario looks like no particular video game character that I'm aware of.

2. The film has a lot in common with Roger Vailland's existentialist novel 325,000 Francs, from three years later. Both are about men who are willing to take banal but incredibly dangerous jobs with big companies for the promise of a better life. But in the end, I think, they're not about dangerous jobs in particular, or even globalised corporate exploitation, but just the very notion of paid work: the sheer horror, the sheer agony, of being trapped for the rest of your life in a room, with strangers, doing something meaningless. Loss of limbs, which takes place in both, is just a metaphor for the loss of your youth and your optimism. I think we can take it that French guys in the 50s did not go to the office with a spring in their step and a song on their lips.

3. The town in which the first hour of the film is set could almost be the same one as in Cyril Connolly's underappreciated only novel, The Rock Pool (1936) - a provincial outpost of purgatory.

4. There is a scene in The Wages of Fear where a driver can't let his speed drop below 40mph or his vehicle will explode. Why might that be familiar?

5. This film is AMAZING.

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