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If only I didn't watch the 1953 Clouzot original five days prior, perhaps then I would regard this film even higher. As it stands, it is probably one of the best remakes any one will ever craft.
The opening sequence establishing the characters backgrounds enhances the picture while making it different from the original. Different in the sense that the Clouzot picture leaves much for the audience to fill in for themselves, especially the demise of one of the trucks, which Friedkin unfortunately shows.
Having seen the original, with the superbly filmed tense sequences as they approach the oil well, few of the would-be tense moments had any impact on me but they were effective as an audience member next to me was gasping for breath during a few scenes (hopefully he didn't have a respiratory problem). The bridge scene was particularly spectacular.
Another major change was the lack of camaraderie and cooperation amongst the men. In the original, the the characters quickly realized that they had to work together to survive. Here they are selfish and will sabotage each other to increase their payday.
Much like Apocalypse Now, filmed at roughly the same time, this film had a troubled production, which serves to enhance my appreciation of it. Overall, this is a fantastic picture, which looks and sounds great (Tangerine Dream-their first Hollywood score!), and is far from disappointing and if Hollywood had any balls, they should take more risks like this.
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #1001 in They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?
This movie ranks #1093 in Doubling the Canon