Slaughterhouse-Five is an award-winning 1972 film adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel of the same name. The screenplay is by Stephen Geller and the film was directed by George Roy Hill. It stars Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman, and Valerie Perrine, and features Eugene Roche, Sharon Gans, Holly Near, and Perry King. The scenes set in Dresden were filmed in Prague. The other scenes were filmed in Minnesota.
Vonnegut wrote about the film soon after its release, in his preface to Between Time and Timbuktu:
“I love George Roy Hill and Universal Pictures, who made a flawless translation of my novel Slaughterhouse-Five to the silver screen … I drool and cackle every time I watch that film, because it is so harmonious with what I felt when I wrote the book.”
The film follows the novel in presenting a first-person narrative from the point of view of Billy Pilgrim, who becomes “unstuck in time” and experiences the events of his life in a seemingly random order, including a period spent on the alien planet of Tralfamadore. Particular emphasis is placed on his experiences during World War II, including the bombing of Dresden in World War II, as well as time spent with fellow prisoners of war Edgar Derby (played by Roche) and the psychopathic Paul Lazzaro (played by Leibman). His life as a husband to Valencia (played by Gans), and father to Barbara and Robert (played by Near and King respectively) are also depicted, as they live and sometimes even enjoy their life of affluence in Ilium, New York. A “sink-or-swim” scene with Pilgrim’s father is also featured. The scenes of extraterrestrial life on Trafalmadore feature Hollywood starlet and fellow abductee Montana Wildhack (played by Perrine).