Lehane & The Wages of Fear

Pardon a brief cinematic digression, but there is a heartfelt Dennis Lehane essay on the Criterion site about the company’s new DVD transfer of the classic Henri-Georges Clouzot film Wages of Fear. Whatever your feelings about Clouzot’s politics, this remains one of my favorite films, and Lehane’s essay is definitely worth reading.

Here is a film that stands alone as the purest exercise in cinematic tension ever carved into celluloid, a work of art so viscerally nerve-racking that one fears a misplaced whisper from the audience could cause the screen to explode. As obsessively attentive as Clouzot is to the narrative spine of the story—four men drive two trucks of nitroglycerin three hundred miles across a hellish landscape of potholes, desiccated flora, rock-strewn passes, hairpin turns, and rickety bridges with crumbling beams to put out an oil fire raging on the other side of the mountain—he is just as savage in his commentary on corporate imperialism, American exploitation of foreign cultures, the rape of the land, and the ridiculous folly of man.


  1. This is new? I’ve had this for ages. Is this a new mastering?

  2. Plate o’ shrimp! I was just thinking about this movie, as well as the William Friedkin’s remake, SORCERER.
    Having seen both, I actually like SORCERER more. In fact, it’s been too long since I’ve seen it… note to self… go watch it again

  3. Tough call, because I like William Friedkin, but I still think the original was better. Then again, maybe we need a movie night in La Jolla to compare — and Brian, you’re the one with the thirty-foot screen ….

  4. I found “Wages of Fear” a total snooze. And I think Dennis Lehane mostly writes crap, so it’s fitting that he would write some puffery about the movie.