Watch Black Sunday
- 2 hr 23 min
Black Sunday is a gripping and intense political thriller from 1977, directed by John Frankenheimer. Starring Robert Shaw, Bruce Dern, and Marthe Keller, this movie follows a terrifying terrorist plot to bomb the Super Bowl in Miami. The film opens in the early 1970s, where a Palestinian terrorist organization, Black September, has kidnapped an Israeli agent named Kabakov in Beirut. Kabakov is interrogated and tortured by the leader of Black September, Dahlia Iyad (played by Marthe Keller), who demands that he reveal the location of a security information exchange. When Kabakov refuses to cooperate and dies during his torture, Dahlia and her group plan a massive terrorist attack on American soil.
The group hatches a diabolical plan to use a deranged former USAF pilot, Michael Lander (played by Bruce Dern), to fly a Goodyear blimp filled with explosives to the Super Bowl game. Lander, who was dishonorably discharged from the military, has a grudge against the US government and shepherds a crew of terrorists who are intent on mass destruction. Meanwhile, the Israeli intelligence officer Kabakov (Robert Shaw) has other ideas and is determined to stop the terrorists before they strike.
The film is a skillful blend of political thriller, action, and suspense. The viewer is taken through the intricate planning of the terrorists as they prepare to launch their deadly attack. From the procurement of explosives to the recruitment of a pilot, the meticulous planning is shown in detail, making the situation all the more terrifying.
Dahlia, the leader of the terrorist organization, is portrayed as a cold, calculating and ruthless mastermind. Her drive and focus on the mission at hand are startling as she seems almost impervious to any moral considerations. Michael Lander, on the other hand, is presented as a man dealing with a damaged psyche. A Vietnam War veteran, Lander has been left with severe PTSD which has caused his extensive drug abuse.
As Lander spirals further into his addiction, his disillusionment with the American government grows. He becomes convinced that the only way to get payback for the wrongs he perceives to have been inflicted on him is to carry out this act of terrorism. It's almost heart-rending to watch as the layers of Lander's mind continue to crumble, allowing the terrorists to manipulate him further with drugs and the promise of a return to the world he knew before he was dishonorably discharged.
Robert Shaw's portrayal of Kabakov, the Israeli intelligence officer, is a study in restrained tension. Kabakov is obsessed with stopping the terrorist attack, and the desperation to do so is palpable in Shaw's performance. He is equally as driven as Dahlia and is willing to risk his life to stop her.
The actual plot to carry out the attack takes place during the Super Bowl game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys. The build-up to the attack is nerve-racking. The view of the Goodyear blimp flying over the game, which for those who have seen the movie, is an image which becomes etched in one's memory. The tension is palpable as the viewer watches the clock tick down seconds until the inevitable disaster.
Black Sunday is a movie that is all about suspense and the near-miss effect. It is a testament to the direction of John Frankenheimer that even though one knows what is coming, the tension of it happening, and the fear of the outcome, is almost too much to bear.
The 1977 movie was seen as much more than just entertainment at the time of release. The fact that this sort of scenario could indeed happen brought home the stark reality of the delicate balance of power that the world is based on. The fear of terrorism gripped the world in the 1970s, and Black Sunday touched a nerve in reminding an audience in America and worldwide of that danger.
In conclusion, Black Sunday is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that remains relevant in today's world. The performances are riveting and the direction outstanding. A movie that reminds us all of our vulnerability and the threat that still exists today.
Black Sunday is a 1977 action movie with a runtime of 2 hours and 23 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.8 and a MetaScore of 57.