original film poster
|Directed by||George Roy Hill|
|Produced by||Paul Monash|
|Screenplay by||Stephen Geller|
|Based on||Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade|
by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
|Music by||Glenn Gould|
|Edited by||Dede Allen|
Stephen Rotter (assistant editor)
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Slaughterhouse-Five is a 1972 science fiction film based on Kurt Vonnegut's novel of the same name about a writer who tells a story in random order of how he was a soldier in World War II and was abducted by aliens. The screenplay is by Stephen Geller and the film was directed by George Roy Hill. It stars Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman, and Valerie Perrine, and features Eugene Roche, Sharon Gans, Holly Near, and Perry King. The scenes set in Dresden were filmed in Prague. The other scenes were filmed in Minnesota.
Vonnegut wrote about the film soon after its release, in his preface to Between Time and Timbuktu:
The film follows the novel in presenting a first-person narrative from the point of view of Billy Pilgrim (Sacks), who becomes "unstuck in time" and experiences the events of his life in a seemingly random order, including a period spent on the alien planet of Tralfamadore. Emphasis is placed on his experiences during World War II, including the firebombing of Dresden, as well as time spent with fellow prisoners of war Edgar Derby (Roche) and the psychopathic Paul Lazzaro (Leibman). His life as a husband to Valencia (Gans) and father to Barbara (Near) and Robert (King) are also depicted, as they live and sometimes even enjoy their life of affluence in Ilium, New York. A "sink-or-swim" scene with Pilgrim's father is also featured. The scenes of extraterrestrial life on Tralfamadore feature Hollywood starlet Montana Wildhack (Perrine).
Slaughterhouse-Five is the first of two feature films for which Glenn Gould supplied the music; Bach Concerto #5 in F Minor, BWV 1056, and Concerto #3 in D Major, BWV 1054 were recorded at Columbia Studios with the Columbia Symphony orchestra; some selections came from existing recordings, and two featured other artists, including Rudolph Serkin, piano, with Casals conducting Brandenburg Concerto #4 in G Major, BWV 1049, III Presto. The film used such a small amount of music that the soundtrack album added atmospheric excerpts from Douglas Leedy's synthesized triple album Entropical Paradise.
The prolonged rendition of the final movement of Bach's fourth Brandenburg concerto accompanies a cinematic montage as the main character first encounters the city of Dresden.
The film won the Prix du Jury at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival, as well as a Hugo Award and Saturn Award. Both Hill and Geller were nominated for awards by their respective guilds. Sacks was nominated for a Golden Globe.