Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Robinson Crusoe (1954 film)

Based on the novel by Daniel Dafoe, Robinson Crusoe is the story of a man who spends year on a tropical island all by himself while he later deals with all sorts of things including cannibals. Directed by Luis Bunuel and screenplay by Bunuel, Luis Alcoriza, and Hugo Butler, the film is an adaptation of Dafoe’s novel that explores a man dealing with his isolation as he is played by Dan O’Herlihy. Also starring Jaime Fernandez, Felipe de Alba, and Chel Lopez. Robinson Crusoe is an excellent and engaging film from Luis Bunuel.

The film is essentially a simple story about a man who spends 28 years alone on a tropical island where he’s forced to fend for himself and such. Especially as he surrounds himself with animals such as birds, goats, a dog, and a cat where he has to endure isolation and later cannibals where he later befriends a captive that he would call Friday (Jaime Fernandez) whom he would help as the two find ways to survive and get out of the island. The film’s screenplay is quite simple in its approach where it is very straightforward where it is told largely from Robinson Cruose’s perspective as he narrates the film to express his own isolation and the loss he deals with where he has to grow up and do things on his own. Though the character of Friday would appear in the third act where Crusoe would have to deal with a group of cannibals and other forces later on. Friday would become someone he can talk to as Friday would grow into a civilized individual with his own thoughts and skills.

The direction of Luis Bunuel is very simple which is surprising for someone who is known for being a surrealist. Though he does put in a few strange moments such as scenes where Crusoe is troubled by fever and images of his past. It is mostly presented in a very straightforward manner in terms of compositions and such. Still, Bunuel does manage to create some very interesting scenes and such that plays into the drama as well as Crusoe’s despair in the years being all alone while later trying to deal with the idea of maybe wanting to go home. The first two acts are quite simple while the third is more adventurous when Crusoe has to deal with cannibals and gain Friday’s trust where it would play into a climax where Crusoe and Friday would fight against forces who may be the key to bringing Crusoe home. Overall, Bunuel crafts a very solid yet compelling film about a man dealing with isolation in an island.

Cinematographer Alex Phillips does excellent work with the film‘s colorful cinematography for many of the film‘s exterior settings and some interiors though there‘s aspects in the print that looks a bit tinted at times. Editor Carlos Savage and Alberto Valenzuela do nice work with the editing as it‘s mostly straightforward while using fade-outs to help structure the film. Production designer Edward Fitzgerald and set decorator Pablo Galvan do amazing work with the look of the cave home that Crusoe created as well as some of the interior of the ship where he gathered his supplies. Sound editor Teodulo Bustos does terrific work with the sound to play into the layers of location sounds as well as gun fire. The film’s music by Luis Hernandez Breton and Anthony Collins is superb for its orchestral-driven score to play into the drama and suspense that occurs in the film.

The film’s cast includes some notable small roles from Felipe de Alba as a ship captain Crusoe meets late in the film, Chel Lopez as the captain’s mate, and Emilio Garibay as a mutiny leader who captures the captain that Crusoe and Friday have to deal with. Jaime Fernandez is wonderful as the captured savage Friday whom Crusoe saves and later teaches as he becomes the one true friend that Crusoe would have late in the film. Finally, there’s Dan O’Herlihy as the titular character who deals with his isolation and situation as he tries to reflect on his life as well as his willingness to survive.

Robinson Crusoe is a stellar film from Luis Bunuel that features an amazing performance from Dan O’Herlihy as the titular character. While it’s a film that is faithful to Daniel Dafoe’s story as well as being something that is entertaining. For those who are into Bunuel’s work, it’s a sort of a baffling film in his oeuvre since it is a very simple film. In the end, Robinson Crusoe is a terrific film from Luis Bunuel.

Luis Bunuel Films: Un Chien Andalou - L’Age d’Or - Land Without Bread - (Gran Casino) - (The Great Madcap) - Los Olvidados - (Susana) - (La hija de engano) - (Mexican Bus Ride) - (A Woman Without Love) - (El Bruto) - (El) - (Illusion Travels by Streetcar) - (Wuthering Heights (1954 film)) - (The Criminal Lives of Archibaldo de la Cruz) - (El rio y la muerte) - (Cela S’apelle l’Aurore) - (Death in the Garden) - (Nazarin) - (La Fievre a El Pasao) - (The Young One) - Viridiana - The Exterminating Angel - Diary of a Chambermaid - Simon of the Desert - Belle de Jour - (The Milky Way) - Tristana - The Discreet Charms of the Bourgeoisie - (The Phantom of Liberty) - (That Obscure Object of Desire)

© thevoid99 2013

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