a nihilistic and masterful classic thriller that keeps the tension going for more than two hours

One of the things that leads us to see movies is the pure emotion captured on screen, the have us on the edge of the seat because what we are seeing has us completely seized. In its best moments, we can find moments of tension that shake us completely, from top to bottom, from inside to outside, and we stay with the feeling for a few days.

Repeated exposure to the cinema can lead to a certain desensitization that makes this sensory ecstasy less common, or that we are only impressed by increasingly enormous modern displays. But the noisiest blockbuster can perfectly lose against a good classic piece like ‘The wages of fear’, capable of make you scratch the couch intensely for much of its two hours and twenty minutes with elements that, seen today, seem minimal. But few can match this experience, available on Prime Video.

cursed cargo

In 1950 the French novel of the same name, “Le Salaire de la peur”, by George Arnaudand the director Henri-Georges Clouzot it quickly positioned itself to fit the big screen. History shows us how an oil well in Uruguay catches fire and the American electric company has to take nitroglycerin to generate an explosion that contains the fire. The problem is that, in addition to nitroglycerin being extremely volatile, it has to be transported through rough and dangerous trailsusing a deplorable equipment for it.

No union worker can access to such conditions, so deplorable. The company decides that it is better to hire, more economically, four European men who agree for a sum that they consider sufficient to leave the Uruguayan region in which they are located. All these ingredients are enough to create quite an exercise in incredible tensionwhich will keep you glued to the screen at all times.

But not only do we have a thriller remarkably executed by Clouzot, an interesting French filmmaker who works almost as missing link between the first wave of French cinema and the nouvelle vague. The director induces a fierce message full of nihilism against the situation of these men and the acts committed by this company. His criticism was so strong that in the United States were forced to apply some censorship to the film, believing it was bringing their entire industry to the ground.

‘The wages of fear’: edge of the seat

But Clouzot, as he himself said, the film is not so much “anti-American as it is anti-everything”. Raised as a child with black detective novels due to his sickly youth, the Frenchman developed a strong nihilistic sense that has been reflected in his cinema, and it is palpable at every moment of ‘The salary of fear’. He is noted especially directed towards the monetary motivations of the characters and the system they inhabit, giving a message as powerful as it is shocking which complements well the muscular exercise of narration.

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See those rickety trucks with heavy loads, going through dirty roads, while these men share moments full of humanity -from the ugliest part of humanity specifically- make this film an experience that has you absorbed. Tension through the roof, thinking that anything can happen at any timeand taking your hands over your head seeing some of the decisions that these characters make.

Watching ‘The Wages of Fear’ leaves you totally knocked out, but strangely satisfied. An absolute masterpiece very difficult to match. And that did not fall short precisely William Friedkin doing his own version with ‘Cursed Load’.