Four decades after publication, Steppenwolf sold some 1.5 million paperbacks to a young audience suddenly attracted to Herman Hesse. Film remains just as subjective and essentially plotless as the book, but director Fred Haines seems fully in control.
Film has a rich appearance far beyond its $1.2 million budget. The weird effects produced from a sophisticated, electronic video mix allow Haines to translate Hesse’s abstractions faithfully, if such a thing is at all possible.
Haines was equally careful in casting Max von Sydow as Harry Haller, the misanthrope who opts for one last try at life before reaching 50 and a preplanned suicide. Whether it’s madness, drugs or love that envelopes him remains as mysterious in pic, but von Sydow makes the journey remarkable.