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The Manchurian Candidate (1962)| Review

Updated: May 31, 2022

Around the time that The Manchurian Candidate released, American politics and international relationships became extremely dangerous and complicated. The Cold War, Koren War, and the growing tension of The Cuban Missle Crisis, all created unease among Americans and the government. Inspired by the political complications, Richard Condon produced his own novel in 1959, The Manchurian Candidate. The novel would later be adapted in 1962 and directed by John Frankenheimer.

The plot of The Manchurian Candidate involves many complex plot points, including brainwashing and dream sequences. To put it simply. a platoon of soldiers is captured and later brainwashed by communists. Once they return to the United States a plan to murder an extremely important person unfolds.

Frankenheimer's direction of the film and it's complex narrative remains to this day some of the best in any film. His use of extreme close-ups and uneasy camera movements further elevates the psychological element to the film, similar to 1980's The Shining. In one scene that involves some aspects of brainwashing mixed with dreams, the audience wonders what's happening, only to be revealed that the answer was in plain sight the entire time. The cinematography works extremely well in contrast with Frankenheimer's decisions behind the camera to add a film of complex themes and psychological atmosphere. All the performances in the film deliver some career-defining roles. The Manchurian Candidate delivers on many levels and remains to this day one of the best thrillers, and films of all time, as well as one of my favorite films.

Time Stamp: July 2020

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