Friday, 23 June 2017

Slaughterhouse Five (1972)

George Roy Hill’s impressive adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel gets a UK Blu-ray release from Fabulous Films.

        Billy Pilgrim (Michael Sacks) has become unstuck in time. What this means is that at one minute he can be at home with his wife, son and daughter, the next he can be living the moment his father threw the five year old him in the swimming pool, after that he might be in Dresden as a World War II POW and then he might be on the planet Tralfamadore with his Hollywood starlet girlfriend Montana Wildhack (Valerie Perrine). Billy’s existence consists of switching between these major episodes in his life seemingly at random, including what happens at the ‘end’, which the Tralfamadorians have explained isn’t actually the end at all.

        Kurt Vonnegut’s novel was partly inspired by his own experiences as a prisoner of war. He was present at the bombing of Dresden where he was a POW after being captured at the Battle of the Bulge. He was reportedly delighted with this movie which is a measured and thoughtful adaptation of a book that looks at how we view our lives and how the only way we can survive is to ‘concentrate on the good moments’. 

        A decent budget means that the World War II sequences are staged on an almost epic scale. There’s also a great sequence of car stunt work, but where George Roy Hill’s direction really excels is in his clever transitions as Billy bounces around in time. Often subtle but sometimes more overt, this is a film that deserves rewatching if only to delight in the technique on display here.

         Fabulous Films’ Blu-ray offers no extras. The transfer is very nice, though. 

Fabulous Films are releasing George Roy Hill's film of Kurt Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE on Monday 26th June 2017


  1. Hi John, Vonnegut was captured in the Battle of the Bulge, then taken as a PoW to Dresden. I think the whole time-hopping thing has confused you a bit!

  2. That will of course teach me to use information from the press release without checking on it! LOL. I shall do a tiny bit of editing