The Parallax View (Alan J. Pakula, USA, 1974)

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The Parallax View is a marvellous, paranoid conspiracy thriller. It has wonderful set-pieces: the opening, the end, the subliminal programming, the judgment, the scene at the damn; and even a pretty good car-chase. Gordon Willis did the cinematography and it is beautiful; some of the most interesting lighting of any film from the 70s, sparsely modernist, with memorably geometric composition, and all in the vernacular of noir. Warren Beatty is good as the lead but he is almost too beautiful: I kept staring at his lips. The 70s clothes and haircuts were not really attractive on men though he pulls it off as well as anyone ever did. The film is so bleak it’s hard to imagine anyone thought it could be hit. Also the story doesn’t quite work; or I didn’t get it; who’s behind the conspiracy and why? It’s an important question to leave unanswered. And yet, the film does seem great to me – at any rate, a visual masterpiece.

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José Arroyo

1 thought on “The Parallax View (Alan J. Pakula, USA, 1974)

  1. Behind the conspiracy: an absurdly enormous secret US government agency with unbridled power and resources. Considering what the CIA had done up to, and after, the 70s, and possibly continues to do today, not much of a stretch. Also a possible metaphor for how insignificant citizens are in the shadow of unchecked government, or possibly private, enterprise.

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