Monday, September 24, 2012
Krakatoa: East of Java (1969)
My goal in life (and I have many of those) is to watch every single disaster movie ever made, especially those from more exotic countries. The
US has always been the master of disaster
movies, and it goes back to Deluge (1933) and (1936), not counting the
countless biblical disasters, Atlantis-stories and everything else between
heaven and earth. One of the first ones I ever heard of as a child was Krakatoa: East of Java, but it's not until now, when I'm slowly crawling towards
the golden years (there's some grey hairs coming, believe me...) I actually sat
down and watched it. Was it worth the wait? Just wait and see. San Francisco
Maximilian Schell plays Captain Hanson and he and his crew is out on a dangerous salvage expedition. There's a ship sunken and on that ship there's a collection of valuable pearls, and now it's time to bring 'em up. The problem is that it's very near the
, and without
no one of them knowing it, it's on it's way to erupt! Will the nuns and
children survive? Will there be pointless singing? Will there be romance? You
No, to be honest: this is not an especially good movie. Mostly because it's stuck between a more family-friendly Jules Verne/Disney-esque adventure romp and the more modern way of filmmaking and storytelling of the late sixties and early seventies. This means it even has a damn song number in the beginning and a silly theme song, not counting way to much romance and ladies walking around in nice dresses while their men is out on dangerous adventures. It's part religious, moralistic Mitt Romney-wacko and part Kirk Douglas in The Light at the Edge of the World, if you get that parable?
So the first hour is mostly boring romantic melodrama with some good actors like Maximilian Schell (very dashing and handsome) sleepwalking through his part, Brian Keith doing maybe the only complex part in the whole movie and sexy Sal Mineo looking cute and cuddly without much to do. The worst thing is that most stories never really leads anywhere, mysteries is not mysteries and no one really seem that inspired to go on that trip to find the treasure. It's just... blah...
The production started without a script so special effects director (and genius) Eugène Lourié started shooting the volcano-affects at the back lot of Cinecitta first of all, and those are also the highlight of the movie. Lourié worked as a director, art director, production designer, special effects supervisor in Crack in the World, Gorgo, The Giant Behemoth, Burnt Offerings and a lot of other gorgeous movies and his work in this film is just fantastic. The miniatures, the cinematography involving these, tidal waves and destruction - it's all top-notch. Very classy and I can't imagine how it would have looked like in cinemas! It was actually re-released in cinemas in
during the 70's, edited down for length and re-titled Volcano!
Krakatoa: East of Java (yes, I know it's west of Java... but everyone mentions this so why should I? Ah, damn. Too late!) isn't the best disaster movie ever made and it's hardly the typical one either (and really not worth the wait). But this would have been a lot better if it focused on the disaster and not on some silly hunt for pearls and scrapped the romantic adventures - because in the end, no one cares about romance when there's a volcano about to erupt. That's the law of cool movies.