Wise Blood (film)

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Wise Blood
Wise Blood poster.jpg
Original film poster
Directed byJohn Huston
Produced byKathy Fitzgerald
Michael Fitzgerald
Written byFlannery O'Connor (novel)
Benedict Fitzgerald
Michael Fitzgerald
StarringBrad Dourif
Dan Shor
Harry Dean Stanton
Amy Wright
John Huston
Ned Beatty
Music byAlex North
CinematographyGerry Fisher
Edited byRoberto Silvi
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
October 24, 1979
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited States

Wise Blood is a 1979 American drama film directed by John Huston and based on the 1952 novel Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor. It stars Brad Dourif, Dan Shor, Amy Wright, Harry Dean Stanton, and Ned Beatty.

Wise Blood was shown out of competition at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival,[1] and was released on DVD by the Criterion Collection on May 12, 2009.[2] As a co-production with Germany the film was titled Der Ketzer or Die Weisheit des Blutes when released in Germany, and Le Malin when released in France.


Wise Blood follows the troubled life of Hazel "Haze" Motes, a 22-year-old veteran of an unspecified war and a preacher of the Church of Truth Without Christ. The Church – a "religious" organization of Haze's own creation – serves to further his bitter, passion-fueled and often spiteful words against anyone or anything representing a belief in God, an afterlife, judgment, sin or evil.

Hazel Motes himself is quite "peculiar", as his unique "head-down speed walk" he demonstrates throughout the film might suggest. His attire is a crisp, black hat and sharp dark grey suit, which complements his tall, lean, lanky figure remarkably well. Various women he encounters, like the seductive Sabbath Lily Hawks, are seemingly charmed by his unusual, dark demeanor; likewise, other individuals, like the dog-like Enoch Emery, are simply drawn to him with the innocent intent of befriending Hazel. Motes is incapable, however, of maintaining any such relationships. A borderline sociopath, he is never content with either himself or anyone else he encounters and feels the unceasing stirring need to pursue the foundation of his anti-church, devoting his every waking moment to attracting followers to his organization.

Over the course of the film, his time in the crumbling, hostile Georgian city of Taulkinham, and his various encounters with the strange people within, lead him to an odd territorial war over street preaching between the faux-blind Asa Hawks and the piggish copycat Hoover Shoates, and then eventually to a violent confrontation with the destiny he has been avoiding.



Wise Blood was filmed mostly in and around Macon, Georgia, near O'Connor's home Andalusia in Baldwin County, using many local residents as extras. Though largely faithful to O'Connor's novel, Huston reframes many scenes from the book as broad comedy accompanied by a bluegrass banjo score. The original music score was composed by Alex North.

Critical reception[edit]

In a 1979 review, critic Vincent Canby called the movie "one of John Huston's most original, most stunning movies. It is so eccentric, so funny, so surprising, and so haunting that it is difficult to believe it is not the first film of some enfant terrible instead of the thirty-third feature by a man who is now in his seventies and whose career has had more highs and lows than a decade of weather maps."[3] Sam Jordison of The Guardian wrote in a retrospective review; "This adaptation is wonderful. It pulls off the rare trick of seeming faithful to the spirit and voice of the book, while being a work of art in its own right."[4]

As of March 2019, Wise Blood holds a rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes from 21 reviews.[5]


  1. ^ "Wise Blood: A Matter of Life and Death". Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Wise Blood". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
  3. ^ Canby, Victor (September 29, 1979). "'Movie Review: Wise Blood". New York Times.
  4. ^ Jordison, Sam (21 December 2012). "Reading group: John Huston's Wise Blood is an unlikely cinematic feat". The Guardian.
  5. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/wise_blood

External links[edit]