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The Sea Gypsies (1978)

A man and a woman and 3 children start to sail around the world. They are shipwrecked near an uninhabited isle. This island is full of wild animals and it is very dangerous for them in the ... See full summary »

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Cast overview:
...
Travis Maclaine
Mikki Jamison ...
Kelly Zimmerman (as Mikki Jamison-Olsen)
Heather Rattray ...
Courtney Maclaine
Cjon Damitri Patterson ...
Jesse
Shannon Saylor ...
Samantha Maclaine
Mark Litke ...
TV Reporter
Nancy Kyes ...
Girlfriend (as Nancy Loomis)
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A man and a woman and 3 children start to sail around the world. They are shipwrecked near an uninhabited isle. This island is full of wild animals and it is very dangerous for them in the beginning. They live through a lot of wonderful adventure together and they become a big family. Written by Kornel Osvart <kornelo@alphanet.hu>

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They left today behind to discover adventure, fear, love and survival. See more »

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Adventure | Family

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G | See all certifications »
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April 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Shipwreck  »

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Was originally called Shipwrecked. See more »

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Bring a seasickness bag
22 March 2002 | by (http://pages.prodigy.net/arkent) – See all my reviews

This movie is filled with unintended laughs, starting with its title. Originally called "The Sea Gypsies," it was apparently renamed "Shipwreck" in order to attract cable TV viewers who enjoyed "Castaway." Fair enough. The two films have plenty in common. However, a more accurate title for this film would be "The Wilderness Family Washes Up on the Beach."

I missed the first ten minutes or so of the film, but its story seems simple enough. A young single father named Travis (Robert Logan) takes his daughters on a round-the-world cruise on his sailboat. This guy is the ultimate devoted father. There is no risk Travis wouldn't take to save his children from danger and there is no sacrifice he wouldn't make for their benefit. In fact, when things get desperate, it seems like he goes days at a time without eating, to ensure the children never miss a meal. What a guy. Best of all, Travis never loses his boyish optimism. No matter how bad things get, he's always grinning. When he's not busy hunting game (a problem for him, since he hasn't got the heart to kill critters that are cute) or fighting off wolves and bears, he's leading the family hootenanny or playing Tarzan on swinging vines. Yes. Travis is exactly the kind of character you would pay good money to slap.

Mikki Jamison-Olsen (in her only movie credit) plays Logan's obligatory love interest, Kelly. She's a journalist who hitches a ride on the boat to write a magazine story. She's attractive but bland; she does little more than hug the children when they're scared, scream when danger approaches, and be available when Captain Travis gets his horns up.

The final member of the cast is a young orphan (so he claims) stowaway named Jesse who isn't discovered until the boat is well on its way to the Aleutian Islands. Jesse persuades Travis's younger daughter, Samantha, not to reveal his presence to anyone else. Then, while everyone is eating lunch below deck, he proceeds to fall overboard when he leans over the side to fill a bucket of water so he can brush his teeth, I don't know why he's so anxious to brush his teeth; there's no reason to believe he's had anything to eat for days. In any case, he's a lucky guy, for Sam does three unlikely things:

First, she notices Jesse's missing and goes looking for him,

Second, she quickly concludes he has fallen overboard and sounds the alarm.

Third, she persuades her father to turn the boat around to search for a stowaway whom no one else has ever seen. Not bad. I wouldn't have believed her, if I had I been her dad.

After they find Jesse, everyone naturally welcomes him with open arms. They all make him feel so welcome that I was surprised that Travis didn't use his authority as captain to adopt the boy on the spot. More surprising, however, is how calmly Jesse takes his brush with death. Imagine yourself falling off a boat in the middle of the ocean, realizing that the only person who even knows you were aboard is a little girl who talks to her doll. As you watch the boat disappear over the horizon, what possible reason could you have for thinking anyone is going to save you? I don't know about you, but if that happened to me, I would still be having nightmares about it years afterward. However, that ain't Jesse's style. This boy's got nerves of ice.

Back to the plot: After a few more days at sea, the boat sinks in a storm one night, but everyone manages to get to a nearby shore safely in a liferaft. That stroke of luck raises a question: What the heck was Captain Travis thinking by having the boat under full sail so close to land in the middle of the night? Granted the storm blew the boat toward land; however, the storm scene was so brief, the boat couldn't have been far from the shore to begin. Frankly, I'm wondering about the guy's navigational skills. Besides, who the hell sails around the world by way of the Aleutian Islands? Let it go.

Everyone's ashore now, but they're short of equipment and supplies (no tools, no weapons, no food). Nevertheless, they seem to be tolerably well supplied with clothes and blankets. That's great because they're in a northern latitude, and winter is on the way. If you watch the film, keep an eye on the scene when they get on the liferaft and see if you can spot anyone carrying blankets or extra clothes.

This raises another question: There are lots of references to cold weather, and it even snows briefly, but no one really seems to mind the weather. Moreover, they all spend a lot of time in the water. They splash around trying to catch fish, they get chased into the surf by a bear, they even engage in purely recreational swimming. Yet no one is even shown visibly shivering. I don't get it. Aren't they supposed to be in Alaska on the threshold of winter? Why aren't they freezing their buns off? And how do they get dry? Do you suppose when they were filming the water scenes off the coast of Southern California, they forgot where they were supposed to be? Don't they know how cold the water off Alaska can get?

I mentioned a bear chasing the Sea Gypsies into the surf. He (or she) is the only real villain in the film. Until he appears late the story, our castaways have close encounters with deer, moose, musk ox, reindeer, sea lions. and even wolves, but the brown bear (apparently a Kodiak) doesn't appear until fairly late. Just in time to keep anyone who hasn't already fallen asleep awake. I think the bear was introduced for one reason: To force the people to leave where they are. After laying in a large stock of smoked salmon, they're all getting entirely too complacent with their situation. For people who are facing a life-and-death struggle, they spend in inordinate amount of time cavorting on the beach and admiring the sunsets. The situation was starting to remind me of "Swiss Family Robinson," which ends with Mr. and Mrs. Robinson deciding to stay put on their island when rescue is at hand. (I daresay that if their island had a few Kodiak bears, their decision would have been different.)

Incidentally, the trained bear in the film appears to have been heavily sedated because he's about the slowest-moving bear you'll ever see in a movie. Real bears can outrun Olympic champion sprinters, but this bear can't catch anyone. In fact, he's so slow, that the people he's chasing have to fall down a few times to give the poor critter a chance to catch up.


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