6 May 2008 | Bunuel1976
HURRICANE (Jan Troell, 1979) **
In view of the disaster-movie cycle of the 1970s, somebody got the bright idea of remaking the John Ford classic THE HURRICANE (1937) lavishing on it a considerable budget, a handful of stars, and the best that special effects wizardry could afford at the time; however, the end result was so dreadful (and old-fashioned) that the film proved a notorious flop!
The setting (adapted from a book by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, best-known for another adventure with an exotic backdrop, "Mutiny On The Bounty") is a South Sea island run by the American Navy; the arrival of the Governor's daughter causes a commotion the newly-crowned native King forsakes his local girl for the white woman's charms; this obviously creates problems between the two sets of inhabitants, who do not wish to have their blood mingle
but, before the situation can be resolved, the Forces of Nature contrive to mete out their own form of justice (via the titular catastrophe).
Jason Robards Jr. is the Governor, Mia Farrow his daughter, and Dayton Kane the young ruler; besides, Max von Sydow is a doctor, Trevor Howard a priest, Timothy Bottoms a Navy officer (with feelings for Farrow) and James Keach as Kane's hostile keeper (the latter having been convicted of his fiancé's death, who drowned after fleeing a ceremony in which her virginity was to be ascertained!). Despite enviable credentials producer Dino De Laurentiis, acclaimed Swedish director Troell, cinematographer Sven Nykvist, composer Nino Rota (whose contribution is particularly notable) and production designer Danilo Donati the film is something of a snoozer, with endless footage devoted to local color and the unconvincing central romance
until the spectacular climax (but which still isn't really enough to redress the balance)!
Having re-acquainted myself with this (I'd already watched it as a kid), I hope someday to get a fresh appraisal of the Oscar-winning original as well; it was available on DVD very early into the format, but hasn't been re-issued since going out-of-print!