The Old Man and the Sea (25-Mar-1990)|
Director: Jud Taylor
Writer: Roger O. Hirson
From novel: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Review by Michael Cawley (posted on 19-May-2008)
Anthony Quinn was awarded this version of Hemingway's classic tale for his 75th birthday by his producer. It was a project he had wanted to do for a long time and he is definitely much more age appropriate than Tracy was in the 1958 version. Tracy being in his 50's at the time. The Old Man and the Sea has been called unfilmable by many reviewers and this version may again add credence to this viewpoint. However, this retelling of the story adds some different characters and situations that fill out and expand the original novella.
The newly created situations include a young Hemingway and his wife witnessing certain events of the story, the addition of the old man's daughter as a concerned but frustrated participant, and several flashbacks of Santiago as a young man. The daughter and young man roles are played by Quinn's real life son and daughter and seem appropriate to the plot line. The screenplay takes several liberties with the original, but it is obvious they did not want a voiced over remake of the 1958 film.
Hemingway never liked any film version of his stories except for Mark Hellinger's production of :"The Killers". Maybe, in some way Hemingway's stories do not translate to the screen all that well, althougth many have been turned into high budget productions. This reviewer has always thought that the screen versions cut out the best and most Hemingwayesque parts of the stories. This was often done by Hollywood screenwriters such as Peter Vertiel.
So, is this a worthwhile version of the novella? I would say "yes" with a few reservations. The boy, Manolin, is a more believable character than in the 1958 version and Quinn, himself, could be a better or more appropriate Santiago than Tracy, although it is hard to find fault with Tracy's Oscar nominated performance.
This was an NBC TV movie, so the production values are not the same as in a high budget studio production, but all that aside, there is much to be appreciated here. The screenwriter has filled in and added on certain probabilities that give a certain added depth. One misses the Biblical allegory so obvious in the novella and the 1958 movie. The images of crosses and the old man as a Christ figure are pretty much missing from this version. Re-read the book (a two hour job) and see the movie and be the judge for yourself.
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