John Huston Films “Wise Blood”: An Appreciation

Because the Flannery O’Connor novel Wise Blood is utterly fascinating (on the second reading, that is; on the first reading it meanders), the faithful film version by John Huston is utterly fascinating.

It tells of a Southern oddball who rebels against his fundamentalist Christian upbringing by preaching atheism until he discovers that, well, he cannot escape the Jesus he verbally denies.  He wants Him.  He has Christianity in his blood, therefore to O’Connor—and to me—he has wise blood.  The film, from 1979, is deeply and idiosyncratically religious as well as ably made.  It sorely lacks O’Connor’s sense of terror but not her humor.  Most of the performers, e.g. Brad Dourif in the main role, do well.  (Ned Beatty is immensely enjoyable.)  The film’s last few minutes, though, do not compare with the poetic final paragraph in the novel, wherein the Southern rebel dies in a state of grace and, distant now from earthly existence, is perceived to be a faraway light.

Wise Blood (film)

Wise Blood (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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