Flannery O’Connor’s first novel was a mesmerising and almost hallucinigenic satire of deep-South Christian fundamentalism. This masterful film by John Huston, directed late in his career, is one of his finest works. Brad Dourif plays an alienated young ex-serviceman who wishes to create a new form of Church which preaches religion without salvation. On his perverse Pilgrim’s Progress through the underbelly of the Southern United States, he is taken up as a religious saviour by a range of unscrupulous con-men who are only to willing to exploit him for financial gain. Absurd and blackly comic, “Wise Blood” paints a disturbing picture of the twisted relationship between religion and politics in the United States. Released on the eve of Reagan’s election to President, this film questions the combination of religious hysteria, unashamed materialism and deliberate ignorance of fundamentalism.
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