Adventures of Robinson Crusoe / Robinson Crusoe (1952)

“Being the third son of a good family, and not educated to any trade, my head began to be filled early with thoughts of leaving England, to see the world.”

Adventures Robinson Crusoe Poster

Synopsis:
Slave trader Robinson Crusoe (Dan O’Herlihy) is stranded on a desert island, and must learn to survive on his own — until the arrival of “Man Friday” (Jaime Fernandez) provides him with company and assistance.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, Luis Bunuel’s “peculiar” film adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s classic adventure novel is “beautifully shot”, yet “static and thematically ambiguous”. While O’Herlihy’s “haughty slave-driver” initially “feels humbled as he must consider his helplessness and man’s insignificant place in God’s universe”, once ‘Man Friday’ (Jaime Fernandez) arrives on the island, O’Herlihy [arguably] begins to see “himself as God in this new domain”. Suffice it to say that no steps are taken to mitigate the assumed hierarchy between master and slave; as Peary points out, this is not the film to watch if you want to see a “defiant” black man. Peary concludes his review by noting that “adults will watch this film mostly as a Bunuel curio”, while children “may respond to the colorful adventure and magical setting and [simply] be unaware of the religious themes”.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Beautiful, lush Technicolor cinematography
    Scarecrow
  • Dan O’Herlihy’s commanding performance as Crusoe
    Dan O'Herlihy
  • Snippets of surreality, providing evidence of Bunuel’s continued fascination with this stylistic approach

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a look simply as a curio in Bunuel’s oeuvre.

Links:

One Response to “Adventures of Robinson Crusoe / Robinson Crusoe (1952)”

  1. Not must-see.

    At least now it’s available in a decent print, which is how I just rewatched it. I had seen it long ago in a terrible print; I think I watched it through to the end. But anyone expecting a typical Bunuel film will be disappointed. You would hardly know he was behind the camera.

    I don’t think the film is ‘thematically ambiguous’. I do think that, at 90 minutes, the film seems very long. That’s bound to happen when, for most of the time, you’re following one person (on an island) on-screen.

    O’Herlihy isn’t bad. In fact, it’s all a reasonable telling of the story. It’s just kind of flat and ultimately not that memorable.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.