Luis Bunuel's Robinson Crusoe Reviews
Its a fairly accurate adaptation of Dafoe's story. I don't see how anyone could live alone for 20+ years without going a little nuts, and they do spend some time with Crusoe wrestling with his own sanity. Once he rescues Friday all the old stereotypes poke their ugly heads out of the sand, whereas before you could forget that Crusoe is a castaway slave trader. It does make the interesting point on how common cannibalism was not so long ago in the Pacific.
The DVD was from a restored version of the film, and while they've certainly cleaned it up, the picture is soft and the colors are undersaturated. The audio wasn't fixed well if at all and has a lot of blips, beeps and is a bit shrill. For a foreign produced film using a cheap film variant it I suppose its better than it being lost. The DVD gets a 7/10 for existing.
[font=Century Gothic]What distiniguishes this version is that it is directed by Luis Bunuel during his exile in Mexico. Curiously, it does not reflect Bunuel's attitudes towards religion, instead suggesting that Crusoe's being cast away is divine punishment for his serving aboard a slave ship, followed by his taking to the bible. Also, Crusoe's relationship with Friday(Jaime Fernandez) will always be at least a little problematic, as it could be read either in favor of imperialism or very much against it.[/font]
Beautiful filming of the classic story, likely the best version of the novel. (Surprisingly, Robinson Crusoe on Mars is a close second). O'Herlihy is magnificent. Simply excellent in all respects. A must see.
Dan O'Herlihy's lead performance is adequate, with a heavy dose of old-fashioned narration, but Jaime Fernandez's ooga-booga turn as Friday is a cringe. The costumes are equally embarrassing, though the details of Crusoe's makeshift shelter are well done. The soundtrack is corny -- quite a jolt, considering how many Bunuel films have no score at all -- and some of the master/slave aspects of the Englishman-meets-natives tale seem dated and racist today. No doubt, Bunuel fans will scour the film looking for hints of his trademark perversity, but there's not much to find beyond two pedestrian hallucination sequences, a distant shot of Crusoe stomping on some unwelcome rats, a closeup of a sand lion devouring an ant and a short exchange questioning Christianity. I'm amazed to discover O'Herlihy was Oscar-nominated for Best Actor -- the idea of him competing against Marlon Brando in "On the Waterfront" is a laugh.
At least, though, this isn't the sheer crapfest that the 1997 Pierce Brosnan-version is...