The Ninth Configuration (1980)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.  

USA, 1980.  .  Screenplay by , based on his novel Twinkle Twinkle Killer Kane.  Cinematography by .  Produced by William Peter Blatty.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , , , .  

William Peter Blatty, author and screenwriter of The Exorcist, adapts another of his novels and this time takes over the director’s chair.  In a remote castle in the Pacific Northwest, army vets who have experienced psychological trauma are treated for their shell shock, most of them from Vietnam but also among them as a former astronaut who has visions of crucifixions on the moon.  shows up to treat these patients, and his method is to let the men live out the fantasies that have been disturbing them to such a degree that the patients begin to wonder about the doctor: is he as crazy as they are?  It’s an interesting concept taken to an interesting conclusion, but it’s also highly theoretical and dry, lacking much drama and presenting characters who are collections of details but never, despite the skilled actors playing them, convincingly human.  An action sequence at a local bar is the only time things get exciting, otherwise it feels like reading a doctor’s session notes.

Golden Globe Award:  Best Screenplay
Nominations: Best Picture-Drama; Best Supporting Actor (Scott Wilson)

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