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Slaughterhouse-Five (1972)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi  |  15 March 1972 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 8,928 users  
Reviews: 90 user | 32 critic

A man tells his story of how he became unstuck in time and abducted by aliens.

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(novel), (screenplay)
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Title: Slaughterhouse-Five (1972)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Sacks ...
...
...
Edgar Derby
Sharon Gans ...
Valencia Merble Pilgrim
...
Montana Wildhack
Holly Near ...
Barbara Pilgrim
...
Robert Pilgrim
...
Roland Weary
Friedrich von Ledebur ...
German Leader (as Friedrich Ledebur)
Ekkehardt Belle ...
Young German Guard (as Nick Belle)
...
Lionel Merble
...
Wild Bob Cody
...
Prof. Rumfoord
Gary Waynesmith ...
Stanley
Richard Schaal ...
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Storyline

Using his own terminology, Billy Pilgrim is "unstuck in time", which means he is moving between different points in his life uncontrollably, although he is aware of it at certain of those points as witnessed by the letter to the editor he writes to the Ilium Daily News about his situation. Primarily, he is moving between three general time periods and locations. The first is his stint as a GI during WWII, when, as a pacifist, he was acting as assistant chaplain for his squad. This time is largely as a POW, where he was in Dresden the day of the bombing, spending it with among others an older compassionate GI named Edgar Derby, and a brash loudmouth GI named Paul Lazzaro. The second is his life as an optometrist in Ilium in upstate New York, eventually married to the wealthy and overbearing Valencia Merble, and having two offspring, Robert, who would spend his teenaged years as a semi-delinquent, and Barbara, who would end up much like her mother. And the third is as an abductee on the... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A Man Becomes Unstuck In Time In The Film That Became A Classic. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Sci-Fi | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

15 March 1972 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Matadero cinco  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,200,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Ontario - edited)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)|

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character of Howard Campbell Jr. appears in the film and speaks to the American P.O.W.s before the bombing of Dresden. Vonnegut wrote an entire novel about this character called "Mother Night", later made into a film by Keith Gordon starring Nick Nolte as this same character. See more »

Goofs

When Billy Pilgrim is asked by the American soldiers, "Where's your rifle?", he replies that he doesn't have one because he's a chaplain's assistant. However, in the United States Army, the primary duty of the chaplain's assistant, when in a combat zone, is to protect the chaplain, so all chaplain's assistants must carry rifles. See more »

Quotes

Billy Pilgrim: -typing- I have become unstuck in time.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Beautiful Creatures (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Chorale: 'Komm Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott,' BWV 651
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach (as J.S. Bach)
Lionel Rogg, Organ
See more »

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User Reviews

 
So it goes
29 December 2001 | by (Acme Building) – See all my reviews

Kurt Vonnegut was more than worthy of the National Book Award that he received for the novel Slaughterhouse Five, but his humor and literary expertise are often lost in screenplays.

This flawed movie was a cult classic since its release because legions of Vonnegut fans were so fond of the novel that they could overlook the film's flaws. This is probably the only Vonnegut novel to make the transition to the screen as a movie that more than a handful of people are willing to watch. And they watch it again and again. I am reminded of Voltaire lovers who enjoy Leonard Bernstein's Candide. This seems to be the best of all possible Vonnegut movies.

There is a wealth of trivia associated with the cast. Michael Sacks disappeared into obscurity. Sharon Gans joined a community theater company that seemed more like a cult. Holly Near became a feminist folksinger. Valerie Perrine would later give a great performance as Honey Bruce in Bob Fosse's Lenny. Perry King and Ron Liebman became minor stars.

The story is largely allegorical. It is not science-fiction. Vonnegut is coping with the trauma of World War II, particularly the horrors he witnessed during the firebombing of Dresden. Billy Pilgrim's emotional numbness and alientation are characteristic of combat fatigue or post traumatic stress. Despite the lack of a chronological plot, Billy Pilgrim's arc is linear.

To the uninitiated, being "unstuck in time" can be confusing. It's sort of like one's first encounter with hypertext. Perhaps, that's why the movie is better on the second or third viewing. The key to enjoying Slaughterhouse Five is to focus on the best scenes and performances -- much like Billy Pilgrim's advice on living.


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