The Ninth Configuration review by The Grim Ringler
The Ninth Configuration
Its a very rare thing for a writer to ever get to see their work adapted, and even rarer to see that work done justice, so, being as such, a few mad writers decide to try their hands at directing and I would wager most are sadly out and out failures (Stephen King comes to mind with Maximum Overdrive). So you can imagine my delight, being a writer of no merit myself, in seeing William Peter Blatty, best known for writing The Exorcist, make what is truly a masterpiece of a film, which was once a novel he himself had written and adapted.
Ninth Configuration is something of a puzzle, as a film and as a thing to classify, because it really defies classification. Its sort of funny, sort of a thriller, sort of a mystery, sort of a religious film, and sort of wonderful. Its almost a theological One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Its essentially the story of a man that was once an astronaut but that cancelled his mission to the moon, as the rocket was on the launch pad, suddenly fearful of the nothingness of space. Unsure what should be done with him he is put into a government run psychiatric hospital for military personnel located deep in a castle in the Northwest of the States. Surrounded by brave men brought low with madness and psychosis, this astronaut is lost within himself, desperate for someone to save him, and when someone arrives at the castle that could help him, a man proclaimed to be the best of the best, the question soon becomes who is there to save whom? The man who has come to save Cutshaw, the astronaut, seems too good go be true, a man filled with so much compassion that it seems improbable he can truly exist, but he is also a man hiding a secret deep in his mind that he himself cannot face, and it is a secret that may damn both men to the darkness within their minds.
I cannot rave enough about how amazing this film is. First off, you would never guess that Stacy Keach could kick SO much ass as an actor. Wow. I mean, my man mind as well have just called it a career after this one because he would never get this good again. As the doctor he is almost somnambulant, seeming to be almost a ghost of a man as he tries desperately to help these madmen find their sanity, but at the end there is a shift and his true persona appears and that is where you see how amazing a job he is doing in the film, and thats when your jaw will hit the floor. All told, the acting of EVERYONE in Ninth Configuration is wonderful, the actors creating lovable madmen that all seem to have something more just under the surface, in a place we will never see. Essentially this is a tale of lost faith and lost soul, and without the actors, as well as Blatty wrote and directed this, the film would amount to nothing. I am happy to say that is not the case here.
The disc is actually a special edition to boot, whoo hoo! Sadly, the film isnt in the best of shape and the entire thing looks washed out and soft, which is a shame seeing as how very well made the film is, but it is widescreen, which is something. There is a really interesting commentary track provided by Blatty and it is one of the most in depth you will hear and is probably the real highlight of the disc. There are also deleted scenes and a documentary made while they were filming. All in all a nice package.
This is one of those movies you never hear about but need to see. Smart, funny, and beautifully tragic, this is what good storytelling is all about. No special effects, no explosions, nothing over-the-top, just pure acting, pure writing, and pure pleasure.
9 out of 10 Jackasses