Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Cutting Edge Film Programme: The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Figure 1: Movie Poster [Still Image]
The Poseidon Adventure (1972) is an American action- adventure film co-directed by Ronald Neame and Irwin Allen. It is a film based on a novel by Paul Gallico bearing the same name.

The plot revolves around a luxurious ocean liner, SS Poseidon, on its last route of travel, which is from New York City to Athens before making its way to retirement. As the ship was behind schedule, company representative Linarcos ordered the ship’s captain, Captain Harrison, to go on a full speed ahead despite the captain’s persistent objection as he knew that is not a wise decision to make.

Just after everyone on board who are gathered in the huge ballroom to welcome the new year, the ship is hit by a tsunamis that was caused by an underwater earthquake. She is overturned and the lives of most of the ship’s crew, including Captain Harrison and Linarcos, who were on the bridge were lost.

Passengers and remaining crew that survived the overturn are trapped inside and a preacher, Revenant Scott, who believes that God will help those who help themselves, attempts to convince everyone to follow him in search of safety. However, he only managed to convince a small group of survivors. The survivors include Susan Shelby and her younger brother, Robin whose interest lies in how the ship works and paid multiple visits to the engine room during his time on board, retired hardware store owner Manny Rosen and his wife Belle, an introvert, conscious about his health bachelor,James Martin, the singer’s ship Nonnie Parry, Detective Liuetenant Mike Rogo and his ex prostitute wife, Linda.
Figure 2: The Survivors [Still Image]
Survivors such as Detective Rogo and Revenant Scott possesses the dominant role and whereas Nonnie, the singer, represents the weaker link. Mrs Rosen and Linda Rogo are characters who possesses the dominant role in their relationship as in it can be seen in their screenplay. An example that Mrs Rosen has been taking the dominant role would be at one point when Mr Rosen told her “For the past 20 years, I’ve been listening to you. Now, it’s time for you to listen to me.” An example of Linda taking on the dominant role in her relationship with Detective Rogo would be when she said “You son of a bitch. Go help him” and he calmly replies to her  “Okay, Okay”. The characteristics that each survivor possess are relatable to the audience because in every community, there are always people of that sort. A film critic Robert Siegel supports this statement because in his review, he highlights "If audiences achieve empathy with our protagonists, the perils they experience will be more deeply felt, will be more real." (Siegel, 2012)

As this film was made prior to the introduction of Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), everything in this film was built physically and the sets were extensively elaborated. With no advance technology present at the time this film was made, removing safety cables from stunt actors as they plunge to their death in the ballroom scene was impossible but in terms of art directors, the stunt directors wanted to achieve the utmost realism so they improvised. In his review, Richard Luck explains how this was done. He states Allen’s stunt directors demanded as much realism as possible. So when you see the ballroom roll over, what you’re looking at is a combination of an elaborate set, intricate model work coupled with death-defying stunt performances. The air of authenticity is further accentuated by Allen’s insistence on shooting in sequence and allowing the principals to perform all but the most dangerous feats themselves. “ (Luck, 2014) 
Figure 3: Production Sketches [Still Image]
In conclusion, this is an example of a film that has a solid narrative and does not need CGI to make it believable. The overall look of this film was convincing and not only that made it one of the most successful disaster film of that era but even to date. In an interview carried out by Los Angeles Time, Lynley, who played the role of the ship’s singer, Nonnie, said "The movie has a life of its own. It just gets to people and the fact that it has lived as long as it's lived is extraordinary." (Susan King, 2012)

List of Illustrations:

Figure 1 The Poseidon Adventure (1972) [Poster] at (Accessed on 2 April 2014)

Figure 2 The Survivors (1972) [Still Image] at (Accessed on 2 April 2014)

Figure 3 Production Sketches (1972) [Still Image] at (Accessed on 2 April 2014)

List of Bibliography:
King, Susan (2012) A Return To 'The Poseidon Adventure' At: (Accessed on 2 April 2014)

Luck, Richard (2014) The Making Of The Poseidon Adventure At: (Accessed on 2 April 2014)

Siegel, Robert (2012) Hell Upside Down: The Making of The Poseidon Adventure (Accessed on 2 April 2014)

1 comment:

  1. @Jackie, How do I quote a line from the film? I only had it in italics.