Who hasn't heard of it? The story of a shipwreck that washes one survivor
onto an island's coast where (no options) he must begin life anew.
Forerunner of Gilligan's Island, Desert Island Discs, and endless other
spinoffs, this one remains the first to come to our mind, whether or not we
have read the book. When Rob despondently realizes that it's going to be
extremely hard to get off his new found island, he begins to face facts and
fend for himself; there is, of course, no one else to fend for. Saving a savage
from sacrificial death, he (not without some further difficulties) gains a
companion whom he appropriately names Friday in accordance with the day
of the week. Both find solace in each other's company, each having been left
to survive the fierceness of the elements solely by the quick of their wits.
Daniel Defoe died in 1731, but Robinson Crusoe continues to live on, as an
unnecessary endnote to the film remind's us, but should this be sufficient to
give us pause?
The "message" of the film seems to center on inter-racial relationships and
call the issues of indoctrinated religious, philosophical, and social beliefs
into question. Without any piercing depth of analysis, these remain familiar
topics of discussion, especially from the last decades, to which this film adds
little perspective of interest or revelation. At best, it might possibly open the
extremist right-wing mentality to a broader spectrum of understanding of
humanity and morality, but it remains highly questionable whether or not such
minds will be found among the audience members viewing such a film. In
consideration of this, it seems, unfortunately, as if the most interesting target
audience shall be missed. Nevertheless, the film remains an enjoyable
experience and might possibly be well received especially by a younger
audience, if they have not been completely completely spoiled by the
overabundant offering of special effects available in other films.
Director George Miller has created a lavish visual interpretation of the tale
including a fine performance by Pierce Brosnan as Crusoe and, most
noticeably, a powerful and equally-matched character portrayal of the native,
Friday by William Takaku.
© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett