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 a Chaplain's assistant for his unit. 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 teen-aged years as a semi-delinquent, and Barbara, who would end up much like her mother. And the third is as an abductee on...Written by
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 »
When the English soldiers are welcoming the American POW's to the mess hall, Paul Lazzaro is seen sitting down to eat, but in the next shot he's standing up putting a safety razor in his jacket pocket. See more »
There is a definite 70s feel to this production of a book that does an amazing job of spanning the most fascinating period of American history -- 1945-1970. I first saw this film in 1986 as a late teen at the height of Regan America, the cold war, nuclear detente. Billy Pilgram was the beginning of that world that I was just starting to pay attention to. The movie had a really profound effect on me at the time. Reading the book afterwards and getting into his other books, didn't detract at all from my assessment of the movie adaptation. Even seeing it now many years later doesn't detract from an amazingly solid film. The transitions as Billy gets unstuck in time are some of my favorite movie images. Also beautiful is the music which totally turned me on to Glenn Gould.
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