You know that one film you watch in a literature class because the book was so groundbreaking, controversial, or just plain different from anything else in its genre at the time? The sort of movie you spend most of time just tilting your head and going, “What?”
Slaughterhouse-Five is based on a book with the main impetus being the Allied bombing of Dresden during World War II. The story follows a guy named Billy Pilgrim, and from there things get weird. I bring up a book because, as with many movies, the 1972 film is based on a book written in 1969, making the film a quick adaptation indeed. It is really hard to describe this film, because one you move passed the whole Dresden matter, everything that follows pretty much enters what can be accurately described as a Timy-Whimy Ball.
The story involves a lot of non-continuity and weirdness that honestly make it hard to explain or describe without potentially skewing people’s viewpoints before they actually get a chance to view the movie. The best way to describe Slaughterhouse-Five is call it a foray into people’s perceptions of time, they’re understanding of story-telling, and they’re understanding of a war movie.
Though incredibly difficult to explain or describe beyond the simple explanation I have provided, and despite the stigma that comes from a movie based on a book shown in a class just to contrast and compare the two for their groundbreaking work in their respective genres, which I can’t even properly describe without ruining the experience, the film itself is a relatively faithful adaptation and a fun watch in its own right. The author of the book is actually on record as stating that they liked the movie, which is a pretty good endorsement in it’s own right to give the film a watch.
Whether or not you consider the movie groundbreaking, you cannot deny the scope of the story or the expansive way it handles the subject matter with which it deals. This movie is clearly in a very different genre than most people expect when they first start watching, and perhaps in an even more different direction if all they have to go on is the title. Nonetheless, Slaughterhouse-Five is an experience few in the film industry can match in terms of how they handle their time and the flow of such time during a movie.
You may not need a sonic screwdriver to deal with the ball of yarn that is this film, but you definitely need an open mind and a willingness to ruminate over what it was you just witnessed. There’s a lot that can be said about this movie, but in order to say any of it, first you have to watch it. Slaughterhouse-Five is worth a watch if only so you could say you observed something so odd and outstanding in its field. Despite if you liked what you saw or hated it after watching it, only by experiencing the movie for yourself can you even begin to understand the entirety of the story and its themes.