This month, Bob S challenged us with 2 books and a movie. The books were Slaughterhouse Five and Cat’s Cradle(both by Kurt Vonnegut). The movie was Slaughterhouse Five.
I watched the movie last night. It is part anti-war and part time-travel. And it is well done on both accounts. The hero, Billy Pilgrim, is a classic modern tragic figure who is traumatized by his past life, bored by his present life, and hopeful for a better life in the future. Yet he is unable to change anything. Being “unstuck in time,” as he puts it, allows him to move back and forth through his past life as a prisoner of war during the firebombing of Dresden, his present life as a successful optometrist, and his future life as a caged animal in a zoo.
The transitions are cleverly done through a variety of techniques: musical cues, camera angles, images, sound effects, and gestures. Ultimately, it’s an ironic statement about the futility of human volition and the absurdity of large-scale human “achievements” such as war.
Note: Nearly the entire enchanting soundtrack is Bach’s 5th Concerto, arranged by Glenn Gould.
Here’s the trailer: