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"The Pledge" opens with non-Swiss scenery

Jack Nicholson plays the lead role of Jerry Black. movies.warnerbros.com

The winter landscape of the Swiss alps has been translated into the snowy mountains of Nevada for a Hollywood movie adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt's detective novel "The Pledge", which has just opened in cinemas throughout Switzerland.

This content was published on October 12, 2001 - 08:34

As with most film versions of novels, this one is loosely based on the original, which was first published in German as "Das Versprechen" in 1958. But as critics noted after its release earlier this year in the United States, it remains basically faithful to the thriller written by its Swiss author.

Jack Nicholson plays the lead role of an ageing cop called Jerry Black, who learns of the brutal murder of a young girl at his retirement party. Shortly afterwards, a retarded truckdriver with a long police record confesses to the crime before committing suicide.

But just as the young lead detective is congratulating himself on solving the murder, Black becomes obsessed with the crime, which is set in a rural Nevada community full of heavy drinkers and losers. He persuades his head of department to allow him to continue investigating what appears to be a closed case.

The film has been described by director Sean Penn as "a retirement-crisis story disguised as a thriller". It also boasts a star-studded cast with Vanessa Redgrave as a grandmother, and Helen Mirren as a child psychologist among the many oddball characters Black confronts during his efforts to solve this dark murder mystery.

The director's real-life wife, Robin Wright Penn, also makes an appearance as a world-weary bargirl and abused single mother, whose young daughter Black wants to use as bait to catch the killer.

The film's Swiss cinematographer, Chris Menges, has made the snowy crime setting both nightmarish and matter-of-fact in a what has been described as "a mood piece". However the mood is grim.

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