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Southern writer Flannery O'Connor's first novel, "Wise Blood," made it to the big screen in 1979. The John Huston directed, low budget feature was widely praised and then practically forgotten.
O'Connor was a devout Catholic. She was also battling lupus, the sometimes debilitating immune disorder. Both factors may have colored her novel. Huston was a devout atheist. His world view certainly nuanced the tone of the film.
The story concerns a somewhat troubled, perhaps damaged, youth, Hazel Motes (Brad Dourif). Just out of the army and son of a fire and brimstone Pentecostal preacher, Motes is determined to open the first Church Withouth Christ in Taulkinham, Tennessee.
A young Brad Dourif is brilliant as the driven, vexed, Motes. There's not a false note or a wasted frame. His is a journey of spiritual self-exploration, penance and perhaps redemption. O'Connor's curiosity about the southern brand of Pentecostal mind set is riveting on film. Motes is trying to shed the damage of his ferocious religious childhood, but cannot shed his spirituality. He finds he's a Christian in spite of himself.
Supporting actors Harry Dean Stanton, Amy Wright, Ned Beatty, William Hickey and Dan Shor are all spot on.
The frisson between director Huston's disdain for religion and O'Connor's devoutness is a perfect match. The screenplay by brothers Benedict and Michael Fitzgerald does not stray from the core events, tone and ideas of O'Connor's story.
The obviously lower budget production, shot mostly in Macon, Georgia of the late 1970s, does not really detract, even though the novel is set in a somewhat earlier period.Read more ›
As the beginning credits roll we are treated to a series of beautiful black and white photographs which serve as evocations of an older America but one that in some ways still exists and lives on in the old run-down parts of town and in the old run-down neighborhoods even as a new America tries to re-invent itself and erase its ties to its sin-soaked past. Wise Blood is about American history and identity in a time of national crisis, but Huston does not emphasize the Vietnam War as the source of this crisis, rather he underplays it and instead chooses to focus simply on a lack of a substantive vision (religious, artistic, or otherwise) to lend coherence to the chaos that is America not just in the seventies but in all times and places.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Absolutely great book, absolutely terrible movie. Brad Dourif gives it his best as unhinged Hazel Motes, but it's not enough. Read morePublished 24 days ago by madfloyd
Shows what the results of a life are without Christ. This movie is very close to the book. The acting is very good. The music is not so good. Read morePublished 1 month ago by JEFF K. BRADBURY
I am fairly new at reading/viewing works by Flannery O'Connor. I know that I enjoy her writing tremendously and, as a writer, I enjoy studying her works - or reading them for pure... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ann Sherry
I didn't think the movie was as good as the reviews said it would be. Given the period in which it was made, it's okay.Published 4 months ago by A.T. Sawilo
damn if this ain't the best southern gothic book there is. pour yourself a bourbon, turn the lights down low and dig into this one.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
True to Flannery O'Connor's dark view of the world and human nature, using the worst of the South as symbolic of both. Fine performance by Amy Wright.Published 5 months ago by Ronald Butters