Tangerine Dream Plays Sorcerer

Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) hosted a wonderful event where Tangerine Dream performed a live score of the 1977 film Sorcerer. The film was shown on the big screen while the electronica Gods worked their magic on the sound stage below.

Haunting, exciting—brilliant. Tickets for both shows (that played back-to-back) sold out and after experiencing this live show I can see why.

The Music

The current Tangerine Dream line-up includes: Edgar Froese, 70 year-young founder of the band and man of few, hilarious, words; Ulrich Schnausse, producer with a synthtastic head of hair; Thorsten Quaeschning, fellow keyboardist who knows how to do the neck groove; and Hoshiko Yamane, queen of string instruments.

If you like ambient electronica then you will love compositions by Tangerine Dream. The sound is contemporary, riffing on a body of work that was structured decades ago.  This is the kind of audio fuel that sends your mind soaring. The soundscape is beautiful.

So we’re all familiar with keyboards and other synth equipment but how about that electronic violin! The acoustic-sounding trills bring nuance to the party. The music is splendiferous.

The original score is now overshadowed by its refined, extended successor.

The Film

First of all: William Friedkin (The Exorcist) is an incredible director. Seriously. The technical preparation required for many of the shots in Sorcerer must have been crazy to set up. This flick pre-dates excessive use of believable computer graphics imagery which in itself is an amazing feat of cinematography for its time. Loved the camera angles throughout this tense journey.

While the film itself was mute there were snippets of foreign dialogue shown onscreen via subtitles. From what I could establish Sorcerer is all about a group of men who are coerced by their own tragic circumstances to drive convoy trucks loaded with unstable nitro-glycerine through hazardous South American jungle for the White Man.

Roy Scheider’s character (Jaws, SeaQuest DSV) endures disaster after disaster—my kind of film.

The truck rides are fraught with danger: dirt roads, rocky terrain, rickety bridges and fallen trees. And then there are the locals …

The audio-visual experience peaked at a memorable scene where the militia return a pile of corpses to the indigenous community after an industrial incident. The local population, brandishing machetes, receive their fallen. The people are stunned when they see a charred body. The crowd fixate on this grotesque imagery. And while the dialogue is mute the screenplay speaks volumes when these people seethe in silence.

The charred body is carried away with a certain reverence. As soon as that body is taken away the something snaps in the communal collective and civilians riot. Such a powerful and striking moment.

Sorcerer demonstrates a disconnect between privileged and poor, specifically the value of life as something sacred as opposed to a thing with monetary value.

While some viewers may argue the literal convoy run is tedious—get on with it—I would say that the tension is perfect and is the crux of the experience.

The closing scene bookends the style of the introduction and ends on a sad, yet clever, note.

Wishful Thinking

Maybe I should watch this film properly? A great film supported by a brilliant score.

See the trailer:

I wish Tangerine Dream would do another live event—The Keep features and incredible soundtrack …

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One thought on “Tangerine Dream Plays Sorcerer

  1. Seeing them live performing The Keep would be excellent – allowing all of TD’s soundtrack to be utiliised. There’s much controversy over his film ( read here https://hellford667.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/the-keep-1983-michael-mann/ ) with alternative endings and ownership wrangling. But back to Sorcerer, having shared the event I now want to see the film as intended just to piece it together. It was based on “The wages of fear”, a 1953 French film – another I probably need to see to enrich my kultcha intake. Anyhow, Edgar was indeed a man of few hilarious words and I’m off now to download my freebie album thanks to their coupon offer at the merchandise table !

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