The Island (1980 film)
|Directed by||Michael Ritchie|
|Produced by||David Brown
Richard D. Zanuck
|Written by||Peter Benchley|
Angela Punch McGregor
|Music by||Ennio Morricone|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release dates||June 13, 1980|
|Running time||114 min.|
|Box office||$15,716,828 (USA)|
The Island is a 1980 American thriller film, directed by Michael Ritchie and starring Michael Caine and David Warner. The film was based on a novel of the same name by Peter Benchley who also wrote the screenplay. It is about a savage race of ancient pirates, made up of outcasts, thieves, and murderers, who are hidden from the outside world by an uncharted Caribbean island, and who raid boats to sustain themselves.
Blair Maynard (Michael Caine) is a British-born American journalist who was once in the Navy, decides to investigate the mystery of why so many boats disappear in the Bermuda Triangle of the Caribbean. He takes his estranged son with him to the area on the "vacation" and, while fishing, both are attacked by an unkempt man and brought to an uncharted island. On the island, Blair discovers the terrible truth: the inhabitants on the island are actually a centuries old colony of savage French pirates.
The group has been living on the island for centuries, unseen by society, who sustain themselves by raiding pleasure boats. The pirates kill whoever comes to the island, however, Blair and his son are both kept alive due to a false assumption regarding their lineage and a need to offset the negative effects of inbreeding. Blair is used to impregnate a female (Angela Punch Mcgregor) and act as a scribe for the largely illiterate group, while his son is brainwashed to become a surrogate heir to Nau, the pirate leader (David Warner). Blair struggles to escape from the island, but all attempts fail.
With Blair having begun his captivity as a very peaceable, civilized, and modern everyman, he is helpless in the absence of law and the presence of almost unlimited violence the pirates commit regularly. Subjecting him to constant fear and abuse, culminating in the pirates brainwashing his son to become the new surrogate heir to the colony, the pirates completely fail to realize how desperate and as a result, dangerous, Blair is becoming as his repeated escape attempts continually fail. He eventually arranges for them to come head to head with a US Coast Guard ship, but through their almost unimaginable savagery, they manage to wipe out the crew and take over the vessel. Maynard sneaks aboard and, while most of the pirates are gathered on the aft deck of the ship, examining their loot, he discovers a WWII-era deck-mounted .50 caliber machine gun hidden underneath a tarp. Maynard knows that this is his one chance to save he and his son's lives and he does not hesitate to flip off the tarp and open fire on the pirates, killing perhaps forty to fifty men within seconds. He continues to fire even after they are all dead while evincing nothing but savage delight and satisfaction.
He then learns that Nau, by far the most dangerous and intelligent of them, was not on the deck. The two men then stalk each other through various parts of the decimated coast guard vessel. Blair eventually gets the upper hand and kills Nau with a flare gun, again proving how dangerous even the meekest of men can be when pushed too far. Blair and his son, who no longer desires to be a pirate and seems much more respectful of his father, are reunited.
Reviews were generally very negative, and the film, which had hoped to be a summer blockbuster, performed poorly at the box office, despite a large $22 million budget and a highly regarded director. Nonetheless, it has gained an increasingly strong cult following from fans of either the film itself, and/or Peter Benchley's works.
On July 27, 2011, Universal released the film on DVD as part of its Universal Vault Series as an Amazon exclusive. On December 11, 2012, Shout! Factory released a retail Blu-ray Disc/DVD combo pack of the film.
Awards and nominations