Deep in a forest of pine trees near the coast of Washington State lies a grotesque Gothic mansion commandeered by the Pentagon for use as a special psychiatric hospital for the military. Those elite personnel who know of its existence and the nature of Project Freud refer to it as Centre Eighteen. Confined to the centre are high-ranking military officers who are undergoing treatment for mental breakdowns which are unaccountable by their service experiences. Determined to establish the true nature and origin of the men's mental illness, the Pentagon enlist the services of Colonel Hudson Kane, a brilliant, yet strangely unorthodox psychiatrist. Kane s unusual approach helps him to withstand the tests that a wildly eccentric fringe inflicts on all the new medical officers. Typical of their number is Captain Cutshaw, an astronaut who aborted a space probe. He is convinced that God is a fraud and that the man in the moon tried to take advantage of his sister. His fellow inmates are similarly consumed with inner torments they fear the evil within themselves and are afraid that, within a Godless universe, man is alone in leading a purposeless existence. Slowly, through the love he possesses for his fellow man, Colonel Kane is able to break down the lunatic façade of the inmates and of Captain Cutshaw in particular but, as he leads the way back to a world of reality, the dividing line between sanity and madness assumes an increasingly vague definition so much so that Kane s colleagues pose the question of who is the therapist to whom with real urgency. The Ninth Configuration is a taut and gripping tale, which mixes theology and psychology in a search for God and the answer to the mystery of Kane s true identity. It is a film that director, producer and writer William Peter Blatty had wanted to make for a long time. Based on one of Blatty s earlier novels entitled 'Twinkle, Twinkle Killer Kane', the film had been in the planning for a number of years. 'I d wanted to do this film for quite a while' noted the creator of The Exorcist. 'I always knew that eventually I would get it made. It is a very special story. I m happy that I never gave up'.
The lunatics are running the asylum in The Ninth Configuration
--but are they really lunatics? Is Colonel Kane (Stacy Keach) really a noted psychiatrist assigned to supervise patients in an experimental government clinic or is he really "Killer" Kane, a decorated US Marine who committed atrocities in Vietnam before going insane? These are just some of the puzzles that will eventually be solved in this giddy and often brilliant drama created by William Peter Blatty, who wrote The Exorcist
before going on to direct this adaptation of his own novel, Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane
. A satirical study of war's traumatic aftermath, the film uses battle psychosis as the springboard for a delirious and scathingly intelligent human tragedy, laced with some of the wittiest dialogue you're ever likely to hear. The film boasts a veritable menagerie of crazy characters, all brought vividly to life by a stellar supporting cast. One patient is preparing a production of Shakespeare with an all-dog cast. Another is convinced he's Superman and the resident doctor can't seem to find his trousers. But there's a method to this madness and it takes a barroom brawl--one of the most memorable in film history--to provide the harsh slap of reality to Blatty's elaborate group therapy scheme. When the true purpose of The Ninth Configuration
is revealed, the film (and particularly the fine performances of Keach and Wilson) offers a depth of compassionate sanity that may well take you completely by surprise. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com