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Based on a book by B. Traven, author of "The Treasure of Sierra Madre."
The film is well acted, vividly photographed and distinctly better than we have any right to expect.
It depicts a fugitive sailor's time on a tramp steamer, with lots of tough guys, much grubby detail, a catastrophe and an amazing final image that will stay with you long after you've forgotten the rest of the film. Very worthwhile.
When will German DVD makers get smart and put English and French subtitles on their discs? A little extra expense would give them a worldwide clientele instead of just selling to two countries.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
He's had his money stolen, he's been deported, he's been more or less shanghaied. He's been depraved to a degree that he considers the successful theft of a couple of tins of plum butter from the ship's cargo a revelation and even redemption. Unfortunately the plum butter tastes of the ammunition it is to conceal. Things could not become better after that, no, they are to get even worse. I saw the movie in late 1969, when I was twelve and the movie was ten years old, and I remember it to have been terribly haunting. Actually, it's the only movie I can remember so far where you can see a man shoved overboard and left drowning, desperately paddling and screaming for help as he is disappearing in the distant keel water of the Yorikke. Altogether the movie is fine. There is no attempt at adding any artificial depth and insight into Traven's original novel, and his direct, uncompromising and unsentimental style is congenially caught in the movie.There are no moralizing traits, and no lengthy dialogues. The shots are clear and unpretentious, the details are correct. The scenery is not exaggeratedly squalid or repulsive, in short: it's at no time a film set you see, but real sea-life. It is as if the camera just had followed a tramp at the bottom of his luck and filmed what was to be seen in any European port and on any ragged cargo ship in those days. In fact, traveling the Baltic, the North Sea and the Mediterranean in regular intervals in the sixties, you might have met some of the Yorikke crew... Buchholz, Adorf and Sommer are at the beginnings of their international careers. They're young, fresh, and without mannerism, so Adorf's animalistic furor and Buchholz' moodiness are left to vividly and uninhibitedly express the disillusionment and despair of those on a voyage with no return.
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