Sunday, 10 August 2008

No.12 : White Squall

IMDb Link :

White Squall is an account of the real life sinking of the schooner Albatross which occurred in 1961 with the loss of several lives.

The film opens with a crew of misfit school boys arriving for a year of schooling and sea faring on the ill fated vessel. Each boy has his own cross to bear such as fear of heights, parental problems or learning difficulties, all of which are to be addressed through the course of the film. The crew meet their skipper, played by an unconvincing sea salt Jeff Bridges, and soon set to sea.

After some adventures involving Dutch schoolgirls and a Cuban gun boat the crew begin to bond and enjoy their time at sea. Unfortunately the boat is hit and sunk by a tropical storm known as a ‘white squall’ and several hands are lost. A board of enquiry is formed to determine blame, and for a last time the crew have to work together.

I felt this film had a lot in common with a favourite of mine ‘Memphis Belle’. Both are great to look at and involved a mismatched group of young men who have to bond together through adversity. It wasn’t as enjoyable as 'Memphis Belle' but there is a lot to like, not least the cracking photography and effortless direction by Ridley Scott.

Some of the plot points were telegraphed somewhat, with the various defects in the boys’ characters faced with regular monotony. There were some surprises such as the killing of a dolphin and an out break of V.D., but for the most part you are just waiting for the storm to start.

I was a bit disappointed in the grand finale as the jerky camera and sea spray made it hard to see what was going on. Obviously this conveyed the fear and panic well, but I’d have preferred a clearer view on the fates of characters that I’d invested 90 minutes in.

The final scenes at the enquiry smacked a bit of ‘Dead Poets’ Society’ and it could have been replaced with a couple of captions instead of the 20 minutes of hugging we were treated to. It is a film well worth seeing, especially if dolphin abuse and sailing are your thing.

Best Bit : Going native at the Galapagos

‘W’ Rating 17/23

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