Adventures of Robinson Crusoe / Robinson Crusoe (1954)

Adventures of Robinson Crusoe / Robinson Crusoe (1954)

“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.”

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, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Deserted Island
  • Luis Bunuel Films
  • Slavery
  • Survival

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
  • Dan O’Herlihy’s commanding performance as Crusoe
  • 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.


One thought on “Adventures of Robinson Crusoe / Robinson Crusoe (1954)

  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.

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