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This is a documentary that utilizes computer imagery, science, historical records, and re-enactments to explore what happened in 1883 to the Indonesian area surrounding the volcanic island of Krakatoa.
The Dutch East Indies, in the late 19th century. Capt. Hanson of the "Batavia Queen" is preparing to embark on a salvage expedition. His mistress, Laura, knows the location of a ship belonging to her late husband, a shipwreck concealing a cargo of rare pearls. A diver and a diving bell are aboard ship. But a government agent coerces Hanson into accepting a shipment of convicts for the ship's hold. The wreck lies dangerously close to the erupting volcano on the island of Krakatoa, where Laura's young son attends the convent school... Written by
This film was shot using Super Panavision 70 and Todd-AO formats for presentation in single-strip Cinerama. The opening title sequence has the image devided into three frames just like the original three-strip Cinerama. See more »
Back in the early Fifties, Republic Pictures made a feature film Fair Wind to Java that featured the Krakatoa volcanic eruption and explosion that was a B film and didn't pretend anything else. Too bad the era of B films was at an end when this one came out.
Don't get me wrong, Krakatoa, East of Java had great special effects, but it would have been nice if there had been a story worthy of those effects.
Captain Maximilian Schell is using his tramp steamer to go on a diving expedition to recover lost pearls. He has to locate the ship that they went down in so Max is prepared. He's got a father and son team of balloonists, Rossano Brazzi and Sal Mineo, a deep sea diver Brian Keith and his sweetheart Barbara Werle and Diane Baker who is the widow of the guy who lost the pearls in the first place.
And then the Dutch authorities decide he's to take on a gang of convicts for transportation. Their leader, J.D. Cannon is a former mate on Schell's ship and Schell out of friendship gives him the freedom of the deck.
I'll stop here because this thing gets dumber as it goes along. Why in heaven's name would Schell even take his ship out looking for riches with a group of convicts on is beyond me. If the authorities insisted he take them, I'd have dropped the convicts where they were to go first and then gone for the pearls. Or maybe not taken the thing out at all. And surely not have given Cannon the freedom of the deck. What a moron.
Why Brian Keith has Barbara along also doesn't make sense. Maybe he don't trust her to behave, but his reasons are obscure. And director Bernard Kowalski gives Werle a musical number. Whose decision was that to include it in the film? It's not even that good.
In a recent biography of Sal Mineo, the author recounts that when this film was having its premiere in Honolulu, Mineo walked out of the premiere, proclaiming to one and all what a piece of trash this film was. I probably think Sal knew it, but at the time he needed the dough.
Maximilian Schell is a fine actor, but action adventure hero he's not. Either he did this as an effort to expand his horizons or he too needed the dough.
Maybe one day someone will make a good film about Krakatoa, but this ain't the one. And who knows, maybe that someone will correctly place Krakatoa west of Java.
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