An oil well explodes – screams, running, crawling, bodies wrapped in flames. Businessmen discuss the political and economic implications of the disaster. (It transpires that the only way to extinguish the fire is by excavating a well, which requires a large amount of dynamite – motivating the rest of the plot.)
And then there’s this scene, surprising in its combination of delicacy and rage. An army truck delivers the bodies back to the village. Some locals are already crying. Others jostle and shout around the vehicle – the prelude to a riot. The first bodies are revealed, some covered, others with their charred flesh visible.
Then the moment of deference pictured above, as the bodies are carried through the crowd. It's followed by more wailing, tentative chanting, before the rioting resumes, this time with unstoppable force. But it’s the capacity for collective mourning – displayed here in a few seconds of quiet devotion – that separates the people from the businessmen. It’s one of the reasons why – although it could never better Henri-Georges Clouzot’s original – William Friedkin’s Sorcerer remains a vital study of the relationship between the individual and the collective, between one man’s madness and a global network of exploitation.