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Slaughterhouse-Five

original film poster
Directed by George Roy Hill
Produced by Paul Monash
Written by Screenplay:
Stephen Geller
Novel:
Kurt Vonnegut
Starring Michael Sacks
Ron Leibman
Valerie Perrine
Music by Glenn Gould
Cinematography Miroslav Ondrícek
Editing by Dede Allen
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release date(s) March 15, 1972
Running time 104 min.
Country United States
Language English

Slaughterhouse-Five is an award-winning 1972 film adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's novel of the same name. The screenplay is by Stephen Geller and the film was directed by George Roy Hill. It stars Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman, and Valerie Perrine, and features Eugene Roche, Sharon Gans, Holly Near, and Perry King. The scenes set in Dresden were filmed in Prague.[1] The other scenes were filmed in Minnesota.

Vonnegut wrote about the film soon after its release, in his preface to Between Time and Timbuktu:

"I love George Roy Hill and Universal Pictures, who made a flawless translation of my novel Slaughterhouse-Five to the silver screen ... I drool and cackle every time I watch that film, because it is so harmonious with what I felt when I wrote the book."

Contents

Synopsis

The film follows the novel in presenting a first-person narrative from the point of view of Billy Pilgrim, who becomes "unstuck in time" and experiences the events of his life in a seemingly random order, including a period spent on the alien planet of Tralfamadore. Particular emphasis is placed on his experiences during World War II, including the bombing of Dresden in World War II, as well as time spent with fellow prisoners of war Edgar Derby (played by Roche) and the psychopathic Paul Lazzaro (played by Leibman). His life as a husband to Valencia (played by Gans), and father to Barbara and Robert (played by Near and King respectively) are also depicted, as they live and sometimes even enjoy their life of affluence in Ilium, New York. A "sink-or-swim" scene with Pilgrim's father is also featured. The scenes of extraterrestrial life on Trafalmadore feature Hollywood starlet and fellow abductee Montana Wildhack (played by Perrine).

Differences from the novel

In addition to the condensation, there are a number of differences between the novel and the film, including the following:

The entire prologue in which Vonnegut meets with his old war buddy and decides to name his story 'The Children's Crusade' is omitted to focus on the 'fictionalized' story of Billy Pilgrim. The opening scene, which focuses many times on Billy typing a letter to the editor of the newspaper, is actually set much later in the novel.

Several elements of the novel are missing from the film. Two characters, Kilgore Trout and Vonnegut himself, are omitted. The sequence in the novel where Pilgrim watches a movie about a bombing mission in World War II forward and then backward is also omitted, even though Vonnegut regretted it, because it would not work inside the time constraints of the film. The novel includes repeated references to insects in amber, which are missing from the film. Pilgrim's abduction scene is longer in the novel, but also misses details, such as the appearance of the flying saucer, said to be 100 feet in diameter, with purple light pulsating around the saucer's portholes along the rim.

In the film, Derby's execution happens immediately after he innocently takes a small porcelain figurine from among the ruins of Dresden. In the novel, he is put on trial first, and is executed for taking a teapot. The scene that sets up the significance of the figurine, where Derby mentions one in a letter to his wife, is also unique to the film.

The Tralfamadorian response to death and mortality, "so it goes", is not spoken once in the film despite being used one hundred and sixteen times in the novel.

Music

Slaughterhouse-Five is the first of two feature films for which Glenn Gould supplied the music. In this case it is in the form of needle drops from his Bach catalog, including Goldberg Variations Variation 25, and a performance recorded just for the film of the third ("Presto") movement from Brandenburg Concerto #4 in G major. Gould's soundtrack actually included so little music in elapsed time, that the soundtrack album added atmospheric excerpts from Douglas Leedy's synthesized double album Entropical Paradise.

Awards

The film won the Prix du Jury at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival,[2] as well as a Hugo Award, and Saturn Award. Both Hill and Geller were nominated for awards by their respective guilds. Sacks was nominated for a Golden Globe.

References

External links

Awards
Preceded by
Love and
Joe Hill (tied)
Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize
1972
Succeeded by
The Hour-Glass Sanatorium
tied with The Invitation
Preceded by
New Award
Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film
1972
Succeeded by
Soylent Green







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