Twenty-five years ago, when I first read this unknown Swiss-German writer Friedrich Durrenmatt’s THE PLEDGE which he wrote in 1958, a whole new world opened up for me. He specialized in crime fiction, plays and literary essays – and his crime stories were way above what I had read in my life in that genre. Combining whodunnits with scathing social commentary and a dark vision, Durrenmatt was a class apart. THE PLEDGE which dealt with a recently retired police officer who takes it upon himself to investigate the rape and murder of little girls in a Swiss village is as much about the conventions of the genre (that he subverts) as it is about police procedurals.
When Hollywood decides to adapt a European literary masterpiece (that’s what I consider it to be), naturally one is skeptical. But if you can remove your prejudices and watch this film by Sean Penn, you could be in for a surprise. Boasting of a stellar star cast that includes Jack Nicholson in the lead and Aaron Eckhart, Helen Mirren, Vanessa Redgrave, Sam Shepard, Mickey Rourke and Benicio del Toro among others, this film could also unhinge you. That’s my spoiler.
Look up THE PLEDGE (2001) on Netflix.
Ranjan Das is a Mumbai based filmmaker & faculty.