by guest writer
The Wages of Fear (Le salaire de la peur, 1953) came out 10 years later than Le Corbeau (1943) that got Henri-George Clouzot state-sanctioned. Often considered the French Hitchcock due to his technical approach, Clouzot delivers with The Wages of Fear tension-fraught scenes of perfect cinema. The film is filled with dark humour and political satire at a time when global capitalism was pioneering. Arnaud Thirard’s cinematography uses expressionist lighting throwing bold black bars across crowded rooms. Building tension even when filming faces in close-ups, The Wages of Fear developed in pure cinema manner the relationship between a movie director and his viewer.
The film focuses on self-determination in the face of unconquerable odds and Clouzot expands his attention on the main characters’ behaviour in the face of danger. He documents with clarity the decadence of Jo (Charles Vanel) from a courageous crook to a cringing coward while observing from a distance Mario (Yves Montand) maneuvering the truck loaded with nitroglycerine around the timber switchback. Clouzot skillfully emphasizes how Jo is stripped off of his once manly qualities.
image: movie still / photo credit