STARRING: Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman, Eugene Roche, Sharon Gans, Valerie Perrine,
Roberts Blossom, Sorrell Booke, Kevin Conway, Gary Waynesmith, John Dehner
1972, 104 Minutes, Directed by: George Roy Hill
The book is always better: that goes without saying. But
where to begin with a review of Slaughterhouse-Five?
Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five is usually mentioned in the same breath
as other great post-war American novels such as Catch 22, Portnoys
Complaint and The World According to Garp. Is it any good? Its brilliant
and if you havent read it then I urge you to dash out now to buy, borrow or steal a
copy to read. Would I urge you to do the same with the movie? Ill get to that . . .
Whats it about? Well, thats very difficult to even begin with. It basically
follows the adventures of a character called Billy Pilgrim who, as an American POW during
World War II, survived the Allied bombing of Dresden.
Dresden will perhaps go down as the
biggest case of aerial bombardment in history: some historians estimate that more people
probably died in
Dresden than when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Considered a non-military
target, Dresden was mostly left defenseless to bombardment by the British and Americans
towards the end of WWII. (A good book on the topic is David Irvings
non-fictional The Destruction of Dresden, which I would also urge you to read as
sort of a companion piece to Vonneguts novel). Later on, Billy Pilgrim will get
"unstuck in time" (his own words) after being held captive in an intergalactic
zoo along with a porn star by aliens . . .
Anyway, like I said I couldnt even begin to explain. Read the book. See the
movie? I dont know. Essentially Vonneguts novel is unfilmable yet the film
(directed by George Roy Hill, perhaps best known for directing The Sting and Butch
Cassidy & the Sundance Kid) does a reasonable job at capturing its
I can complain about especially one sequence in the novel
(which lent itself very much to cinematic adaptation - if you have read the book
you would know what I’m referring to) being left out, but it is really to no
avail. I have a vague suspicion that people unacquainted with the novel might
find events in the film bewildering although some people who have seen the movie
but not read the book I spoke to said that they thought it was very good. In my
case it made me feel like rereading the novel again . . .
Sci-Fi Movie Page Pick: The
book's better, but this isn't bad. You'd be better off reading Kurt Vonnegut's off-beat classic of the same title, but this
film adaptation will at least make you want to read the book to more clearly understand
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