Treasure Island (TV Movie 1990) Poster

(1990 TV Movie)

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Shiver-me-timbers, this is the best version of the Stevenson classic!
GulyJimson11 February 2004
Shiver-me-timbers, this is the best version of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic! In fact it is a model of cinematic adaptation. Closely following the book, with whole scenes and dialogue taken straight from its pages, the film never bogs down into the kind of stuffy lifelessness that sometimes afflicts adaptations attempting to be faithful to their literary source. Indeed Frazier Heston's screenplay and direction capture the brisk, page turning pleasure of the book nicely. Add to his sure direction, wonderful locations, a picture-perfect cast and a rousing music score by the Chieftains and you have one of the best pirate movies ever made. And for once they really are pirates and not watered down, sentimentalized versions of them. They're cut-throats all, a scurvy lot of thieves, superstitious and dirty. You can just smell their stench under the hot tropic sun and lush vegetation of Skeleton Island.

Oliver Reed as Billy Bones gets the movie going smartly. We first see him with his granite visage at the head of the skiff, an old sea dog home from the sea. With his great hulk and whiskey whisper purr he exudes danger from every rum soaked pore of his being. Of course his old shipmates, the remnants of the crew of the now dead Captain Flint, are pursuing him. Christopher Lee, almost completely unrecognizable, is Blind Pew, a spectral, skeletal figure of death, whose fury, fueled by blindness is like some great ravaging bird of prey. He is wonderful and like Reed he creates a vivid, memorable characterization. A young Christian Bale is the definitive Jim Hawkins. He narrates the proceedings and is at turns appealing, capable and wily. He is a boy on the verge of young manhood who is about to have his mettle tested with the adventure of a lifetime. There is not a trace of the Jackie Cooper mawkishness about him. Richard Johnson as Squire Trelawney, Julian Glover as Dr. Livesey, and Clive Wood as Captain Smollet are all perfect in their roles. They beautifully capture the essence of quiet courage. Heroes without phony heroics, they are solid men of character sure of themselves and quite capable of dealing with Silver and his scurvy crew.

This brings us to Charlton Heston as Long John Silver. Ultimately for any version of this work to succeed it rests on the shoulder of the actor portraying the Sea Cook. Happy to say, Heston gives one of the best performances of his long career. Turning his stalwart, forthright screen persona on its head, he creates a monster that is complex, charismatic, and bloodthirsty. There is no Wallace Beery, Robert Newton sentimentality here. This is a natural leader of men who can dazzle with his bigger than life personality and tales of treasure, and the next moment plunge his cutlass into the bowels of his victim without even missing a beat. Never has he used his toothy smile to better effect. It is the smile of a vicious carnivore-a shark. On a lighter note Nicholas Amer brings the right balance of levity and pathos as Ben Gunn, the poor maroon. He is amusing without becoming a caricature, and his scene with Jim when describes his yearning for a piece of toasted cheese is wonderful. Both Pete Postlewaite as George Merry and Michael Halsey as Israel Hands are perfectly nasty.

Finally the music score by the Chieftains is superb. It captures by turns the lilting Celtic love of the sea, the grace and sweep of a great sailing ship setting out for adventure and the exotic dangers of buried treasure, pirates, flashing cutlasses, and midnight rendezvous on a far away island in the balmy tropics. Avast, me hearties, this is a film to treasure!
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The current benchmark
rrichr17 August 2002
In Fraser Heston's production of Robert Louis Stevenson's masterpiece, an obvious labor of love by all involved, the classic tale sidesteps another excessively kid-friendly incarnation to live and breathe as Stevenson meant it to. Although its made-for-TV scale pokes through now and then, it does so only momentarily in each case. These little blinks aside, this heartfelt reading of the classic adventure is a worthy piece of work. It's still family-safe but this time there's real menace interwoven with the book's more genteel sensibilities.

How a film begins is often crucial and this `Treasure Island' begins so beautifully, and correctly. A mournful pennywhistle solo ushers in an opening credit sequence that could have been filmed by the painter N.C. Wyeth, whose vision infuses many of the film's frames. I replay this sequence several times whenever I screen this film because it is so evocative. It also perfectly sets the tone for the entire movie; beautifully done. But if they had just held the rousing, though excellent, music back a bit longer and let the sequence walk through on its own legs, it would have been one of the most perfect opening sequences ever filmed.

Charlton Heston as Long John Silver? Don't laugh. His now-familiar voice occasionally surfaces through his 18th century pirate patois, but never detracts. Heston's portrayal is completely effective and is handled with restraint and relish, a fact that is evident the moment his Silver first appears. Silver emerges from the back room of his waterfront Bristol grog shop to confront Christian Bale's uneasy Jim Hawkins who, having walked into Silver's lair, is realizing that he may, quite possibly, not be walking out. Assessing Hawkins through a world-weary expression that has seen it all several times, Silver weighs his options: hear the boy out or drag him into the kitchen and slice him into the salt pork stew, at least.

Heston's Silver is no buffoon. Instead, he is a dangerous man, not unlike the Deke Thornton character in Sam Peckinpah's `The Wild Bunch'; an intelligent person who is forced to endure, and make use of, the human dregs of his time, the best of whom can hold only a dim candle to him. Cunning, quietly remorseless, always several moves ahead of everyone in sight, yet patient in the face of relentless idiocy, this Silver is also a man whose soul has not been completely flogged out of him, by circumstance or the whip. His sincere respect for the innocent courage of Jim Hawkins gives this `Treasure Island' much of its humanity. If you don't feel a pang as Heston's Long John gazes chagrined at the loot, which, for the lack of more far-sighted colleagues, would have been his, you may have the proverbial hole in your soul. `Ah bucko', says Silver to Jim Hawkins near the film's end, after Jim rebuffs Silver's last gentle attempt to manipulate him, `what a pair we would have made'. Oh yeah, absolutely.

All of the book's heroes are portrayed with heartfelt competence; the blustering Squire Trelawney (Richard Johnson), the tack-sharp, impeccably-mannered Doctor Livesey (Julian Glover), the unflinching Captain Smollet (Clive Wood), and Jim Hawkins' arch-boy (Christian Bale in his mid-teens, filled out a bit post `Empire of the Sun', bearing no resemblance to his homicidal yuppie in `American Psycho'). Arrayed against them are the scurviest sea dogs who ever weighed anchor, complete with terrifying teeth and fierce, implied body odor: Oliver Reed's tragic Billy Bones, Christopher Lee's festering Blind Pew, Israel Hands (what a great name), Silver's murderous, cobra-like shipmate, (Michael Halsey), who provides a taste of what Silver himself may have been like in his younger days, and a most convincing Ben Gunn (Nicholas Amer). Peter Postlethwaite, the super-cool big-game hunter in the first sequel to `Jurassic Park', plays the bewildered George Merry, a man who should always flee from even the slightest ambition; someone who makes you happy to still be you, even if your 401K was riding entirely on Enron.

When the time comes for action, it's delivered with conviction. Early on, the tense, hateful confrontation in the Admiral Benbow inn, between the rum-soaked Billy Bones and his scary former shipmate, Black Dog (John Benfield), is beautifully rendered, as is the berserk fight at the island stockade later in the film. To its great credit, the film never tries to be funny, or even light-hearted. It simply forges ahead, telling Stevenson's great story. But near the end comes a scene in which Squire Trelawney confronts Silver, whose schemes are now hopelessly foiled, and attempts to call the old pirate to account. What briefly transpires is the film's only real yuk, but it's a peach.

It's easy to over-romanticize the period in which `Treasure Island' is set; swashbuckling as it may now seem, it was a time before widespread bathing (the future George III's German fiancé had to be told to please take a bath after arriving in England), flush toilets, anesthesia, toothpaste, germ theory, and any notion of social justice. But it was also a time when unbroken forests still covered most of North America, when Pittsburgh was just a rough-hewn, barely defensible French fort in the midst of a trackless wilderness (near the present site of the Pirates baseball stadium; Pirates?, hmmm), a time when, given the courage, adventurous spirits still had real room to move. The slate was still largely clean. Many irreversible mistakes had yet to be made. Anyone with a taste for history and, perhaps, a discernible distaste for certain aspects of our own `advanced' age will relate well to this forthright `Treasure Island'. If you've appreciated Charlton Heston as a movie star, you'll appreciate him even more as an actor. This `Treasure Island' is probably the best that will ever be made. A more `updated' version could certainly be produced; one that spurts more blood and exchanges more bodily fluids, with much of the book's period style and manner stripped out, but it would no longer be Stevenson, just Hollywood.
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A Treasure of a Treasure Island!
sherlock-3421 November 2000
One of the great literary classics is brought to life in this wonderful made for television version. An incredible cast, headed by Charlton Heston as Long John Silver, beautiful location footage and a great soundtrack from Paddy Maloney performed by the Chieftains, makes this one of the liveliest productions ever filmed. Cleverly scripted and directed by Fraser Heston, the viewer is treated to a wonderfully faithful adaptation of R. L. Stevenson's classic adventure tale.

Christopher Lee is near unrecognizable in the ghastly make-up of Blind Pew. Add to that the most incredible voice-work and you have one of Mr. Lee's most fascinating characterizations. Although on-screen for a relatively short time, Pew is instrumental to the plot, and Mr. Lee certainly makes the most of his limited time, effectively creating one of the most frightening and memorable characters. Never before, or since, has Blind Pew been quite so well played. His interaction with the late great Oliver Reed as Billy Bones at the Benbow Inn is a wonderful moment, particularly for Hammer fans.

The cast includes a phenomenal assortment of remarkable actors. While Charlton Heston is less than perfectly cast, he does turn in a commendable performance and in no way detracts from the production. It is evident that he is enjoying his role. Young Christian Bale in an early performance is excellent and well cast, as Jim Hawkins. Isla Blair does a great job as young Jim's protective mother. Along for the ride we also have Julian Glover in a standout performance as Dr. Livesey. His confrontation with the swaggering Oliver Reed as Billy Bones is a high point in this film. Richard Johnson as Squire Trelawney and Clive Wood as Capt. Smollet round out the cast, with Nicolas Amer (whom I thought was actually Jasper Carrot) as a suitably deranged Ben Gunn. An exceptional cast, which fits together beautifully, results in my favorite version of this oft-filmed classic. While at times reminiscent of some of Hammer's adventure films, it certainly benefits from modern film technique, and rightly exceeds even the best of Hammer's pirate yarns.

Even if you are just checking this out for Christopher Lee's or Oliver Reed's performance, you'll find yourself engrossed in a wonderful family film and wondering why more classics aren't given such great treatment. Highly recommended!
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Very good movie for all ages and great performance by Heston
gfender12 August 2006
Although this was a made for TV movie, Ted Turner wanted, and got, a great movie from an old story that has been shot on the screen many times. But none, in my opinion, as good as this.

Charelton Heston's performance was magnificent. Had the movie been produced for theatrical release, I believe that Heston would have gotten nominated for yet another Academy award, as probably would have the cinematography as well.

I highly recommend this movie for a delightful evening that the whole family can and will enjoy. Go ahead, pop some popcorn and find out. And for you true Charleton Heston fans, I'd also recommend another obscure title, "Mother Load."
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poe42612 August 2002
Along with George C. Scott's performance as Scrooge in A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Charlton Heston's performance as Long John Silver will go down as one of the highlights of 20th century television. In an utterly amazing turn, Heston metamorphosizes chameleon-like into one of literature's most enduring villains. This is the kind of performance that needs to be seen to be believed- and believe it you will! Had Heston chosen, he could very well have become one of The Silver Screen's leading villains. (THE THREE MUSKETEERS and THE FOUR MUSKETEERS are also offered in evidence.) Superb writing and direction by Fraser Heston in aid of must also be noted. Must-see telemovie.
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Fond memories
André-73 August 2001
Cudoes to all those involved. The Hestons (father and son) for daring to risk a lot (in terms of reputation) on so well known a project. A superb and faithfull re-telling that still manages to surprise (the cannon scene was a beautiful coup de theatre).

This loving adaptation is the only one I remember that includes the haunting image of Israel Hands slowly sinking out of sight in the water... A description I will always remember from the novel and echoed at the very end of Benchley's JAWS.

This television version of Stevenson's book brought back fond memories of a teen-age summer on Prince edward Island, reading the adventures of Jim Hawkins striding the razor's edge between the honest Captain Smolett, and that band of ruffians that follow Long John Silver.
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Vote for a DVD release at TCM
blackhawk6612 January 2006
More superlatives from me are not necessary. I will only say that I agree with the other commenters who consider this the best version of Treasure Island made so far. What would make a difference is for it to be released on DVD. If you would like to see this version of Treasure Island released on DVD, as I do, then please go to this link:

and vote for it (on the right hand side of the screen).

If the link does not work or you don't care to use it, then do a Google search for Turner Classic Movies, then search on the site for Treasure Island (1990). Maybe if enough people vote for it, it will actually be released on DVD. It can't hurt.
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The absolutely best version of Stevensons classic novel
Werner Kienberger28 November 2005
Although one of the commentaries states that he would have give 10 of 10 if the movie has been released widescreen in DTS I will give it nevertheless 10 points. This is based not on the technical side. Me as well would have greatly appreciated a Release on DVD in German Language in a Widescreen Apect Ratio but I'm afraid this Picture was shot in an 1.33 open gate Aspect Ratio due to the primary intense to broadcast it on TV (the Movie was produced by HBO). If so, a blow up to a 1.78 or wider would cut of heads or other important parts of the image.

HBO has proved a dozen times (The Last Outlaw) that it is even more able to produce absolutely high class movies than some studios or independents simply by using the essence for a good film in a way it has to be: the story.

Fraser Clarke Heston who did produce, wrote the screenplay and directed the movie did a really great Job. In his fussy stile (in the most positive tenor) he tried to take the story by Louis Stevenson in an image how it was intended. He meet the fantasy of thousand of readers and involve them in the movie. They are riveted on the picture from the very first minute.

This movie is perfect! The Screenplay, the arc of suspense, the Language as it was spoken at that time, the clothes as they were worn, the decoration, the dirt, the teeth, the properties, the ship, the location, the make-up, hair-dresser and even the continuity are perfect. The story is known by all. The Actors as well.

Therefore an extensive comment is needless except this one sentence:

It's perfect and a great enjoyment to view, watch it !!
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An awesome version of a Classic!!! WHERE'S THE DVD?!?!?!?
steve-perry22 October 2005
(it would be 10 for 10 if this were released in WIDESCREEN DTS !!!) This TNT backed (probably made for TV) version had me hooked from the first minute. Faithfully following the tale of pirates treasure, we follow young Jim Hawkins from his fascination with Captain "Billy Bones" (a picture perfect performance by the late Oliver Reed) to his adventures aboard the Hispaniola and eventually Treasure Island. The casting is magnificent. Charlton Heston plays his Long John Silver with an air of jaded humanity that we almost empathize with him. The "good guys" are also humanized and show some of their "darker" sides in the course of the telling of the tale. I just wish this would be released on DVD. It is truly an effort of love and a tribute to the great Robert Louis Stevenson. Truly wonderful, Mateys!
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Beyond any shadow of a doubt, the single greatest adaptation available!
eringobragh-110 November 2004
I read the book about 20 times a week as a kid. I saw every adaptation for the screen. Disney's was crap! Muppet was a joke. Every animated version was dumbed down. Only this one was faithful to the book. Even better, the actors were perfectly cast across the board. Each and every pirate was terrifying. Each and every good guy seemed nice enough until the fights started, at which they were badass!

This movie made me investigate the actors and I was so disappointed that they were all so wonderful in this, but they never had any better roles afterwards.

All actors were great, but the standouts were Julian Glover as Dr. Livesey, Richard Johnson as Squire Trelawney, Clive Wood as Capt. Smollet, and Nicholas Amer as Ben Gunn. Christian Bale, Charlton Heston, and Christopher Lee were fantastic and perfectly cast (surprise, surprise!)

For any kid, whether an actual kid or a kid at heart, let them watch this, rather than every other one (they are, to a one, crappy).
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Remarkable version of this classic novel
joeisele24 May 2006
In my opinion, this movie is the best film rendition of Treasure Island to date. I must however preface that comment with the fact that I was eight years old when it came out and still watch it today from time to time. I fell in love with this film at a young age, without the wisdom to realize that this movie stands the test of time as a rich and well crafted rendition.

The story is of course of the famous the R.L Stevenson book and uses a somewhat older Jim Hawkins played by a young Christain Bale. Charlton Heston seems born for the role of Captain Hook and a host of other famous actors play great characters as well. Everything is tied in together with excellent scenery and a wonderful soundtrack by the Chieftans in the flavor of Irish folk music.

I watched the movie again at the age of 18, having been exposed to a wide array of films and upon seeing this again, I couldn't believe how much I still loved the film. When remakes are done of films, it's sometimes the first rendition one sees that sticks as the 'prototypical' version to which all others are compared. This film is such for me, that I cannot see another version of the story and find anything of value in it. Call it stubborness or simply childhood attachment, but one must see this movie to understand. Don't listen to the rants and raves of a grown up eight year old, rent it yourself and make your own decision.
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Brilliant dramatization of a classic novel
BadWebDiver16 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the best adaptations of a classic novel, which I rank as on par with the Disney version. Christian Bale and Charlton Heston are well cast as Jim and Long John Silver respectively, and the the whole cast work to make a truly magnificent production. The production design and other aspects also work wonderfully.

<Spoiler warning>

There is one particular scene I would like to comment on. It's the one just after the ship arrives at the island, and Jim and Long John are ashore. Jim is hidden in the undergrowth, and sees Long John trying to persuade an honest sailor to join the pirates. The sailor refuses, so Long John knocks him out with his crutch and then stabs him in the back - literally. It's a very powerful scene from the original story, and one which most versions omit (understandably). But I think it a) fully explains why Jim dashes off madly into the interior and stumbles onto Ben Gunn; and b) reveals Long John's true personality and establishes him as a serious villainous threat. He may be able to butter people up and talk nice, but when push comes to shove he will kill you if you stand in his way. I think this production deserves wide commendation for keeping the scene in. It just one aspect of a truly intelligently entertaining story. Top notch example of brilliant classic storytelling; along with the Disney version of this story, THE ADVENTURES OF HUCK FINN (1993) - also Disney, and David Lean's OLIVER TWIST.
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One of my favorite movies and I wish it were on DVD
hattjam828 February 2008
This is one of my favorite movies. I was introduced to it by an old family friend who had copied it when it was originally broadcast on cable. My sisters and I ruined the tape with watching. My father has declared this movie his very favorite, and we all have the music from it (yay, Chieftains!). It is an incredible movie, which was my introduction to Christian Bale. I like this one even better than Empire of the Sun. My only gripe is that they have stopped printing this movie, even on VHS. It is a bear to get hold of a copy, let alone a decently-priced one. I hope that someday, a DVD will be made for all of us devoted fans of this brilliant movie.
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Excellent - Top Drawer
bryankendallm19 February 2006
I have read the book many times and have every version of this classic available. I am a devotee of pirate history as well so I hope to speak with some qualification.

This is, without doubt, the finest, richest version of Treasure Island I have ever seen. The director seems to capture the mood of the story and the broad strokes are well directed making for a well told tale. But, the movie is marvelously rich in detail.

The ensemble acting is .......with good chemistry. No one actor steps out as a soloist it should be. And the young man acts a lad should.

Why, why, oh, why is this not on DVD?
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My favorite version
ateelah24 June 2003
I have to agree with everyone who has lauded this film as the best adaptation of Stevenson's novel. "Treasure Island" has long been one of my favorite books and this is the first version that comes closest to my vision of the story. Fraser Heston obviously knew and loved this book, it's evident in every frame. The costumes, the sets, the actors and the music all combine to create an unforgettable cinematic adventure. When I first heard that Charlton Heston was going to play Long John Silver, I was skeptical, but his performance was spot on. He was able to communicate the moral ambiguity of Stevenson's character without making him comical. He comes across as a man who is at once dangerous and compelling.

Christian Bale was a great Jim Hawkins, coming closer to the way I pictured him in the book than any actor previously. The scene on the ship when Israel Hands is chasing him up the rigging was exactly the way I envisioned it, with all the urgency and tension it required.

Let me just take this opportunity to say that, while I wasn't familiar with Pete Postlethwaite before this film, his portrayal of George Merry really made me pay attention. All the supporting actors were perfect. Christopher Lee's Blind Pew is the stuff of nightmares and Oliver Reed as Billy Bones looked closest to the way I had always envisioned him.

The musical score by the Chieftains is one of the most perfect for any TV movie I have ever seen, and better than many for big screen films. It's one of the few scores I purchased on CD so that I could just listen to the music.

In spite of a few continuity errors, this film captured perfectly the look and feel of Stevenson's tale. It's one film I never tire of watching and I highly recommend it.
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Captures the book !
ewilgus7 February 2006
I am a life-long fan of the book. This film captures wonderfully the book's spirit (Adventure!). Prior to this film, I had always disliked Charlton Heston for his pompous saintliness. In this film, however, as a villain, he is a WONDERFUL villain - refreshingly non-stereotypical, and a good translator of the author's ambiguous character (the amoral ship's cook). And Israel Hands, the quintessential pirate-up-the-mast, with his, " Ahhh, Jim, you didn't keep your powder dry!" lends a great flavor to the translation. Mr. Bale, as the hero, has good substance, though older than the original character. After thinking about this film for years - both my thumbs up.
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Treasure Island (1990 version_
ers-1125 April 2006
If you hated watching Robert Newton and his ARRRRR, Matey! approach to the role of Long John Silver, and you hated watching a brat (Bobby D) play Jim Hawkins, and you like to watch a movie about boats and ships featuring actors who actually know something about sailing, this one's for you. It's the best version of Treasure Island ever filmed. Not only are you treated to a charismatic, cunning and completely amoral Long John, and a young man coming of age playing Jim, you get to hear an incredible soundtrack by the Chieftans! Wish I had a copy of the score...

The Chieftans build the perfect OST for this movie. You may not like Charlton's politics, but who cares-- it's just a movie. I'm pretty sure the director is Heston's son, and he does a good job. From the opening moments when Captain Billy Bones comes in to the harbor close hauled, you know you're seeing real sailors. No other film version even comes remotely close to this one. Check it out. A bit hard to find, but out there.
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I'm as silent as a grave!
cannyelshie21 November 2003
Treasure Island! One of the best movies of all time. Ok, just one of my favorites. Have watched it millions of times and don't get tired of it. My brother works with fishermen and tugboat fellas and they all love this movie. If the seafarin' folks love it, well then, as a seafarin' tale goes it must be good, eh? Sort of a cult film amongst 'em. Well, at least the sea farin' folks of Ballard and maybe its just that the damp has gotten into their brains.

Speaking of Israel Hands sinking into the depths of the Carribean, try rewinding it while it is playing to see him magically rise from the depths, do an expert back flip and land on the crow's nest. It's really quite funny.

Ok, so why the wierd "one line summary"? It is one of my favorite lines from the movie where Squire Trelawney (sp?) is swearing secrecy to the whole treasure

expidition. We all know how well he kept it. But his face when he says it is quite comical. "I'm as silent . . . as a grave!"

Good job Christian Bale, you'll always be Jim Hawkins to us whether you like it or not. Billy Bo-nes, few can cough and die as disgustingly as you.

If you like Treasure Island, watch "Yellow Beard". Sort of spoofs it in a Monty Python fashion.
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Rousing Adaptation Follows Novel Closely
hans1010679 December 2000
This version of Stevenson's masterpiece is probably the one that most closely follows the novel.It appears that they must have had a copy alongside when they were writing the script.Oh,we can certainly have criticisms,of inaccuracies,and diversions,but they're so small.Bale is some flat as Jim Hawkins,and he does appear a little dull-witted(which is NOT the same as being stupid)but what of it.He's the closest in age of any interpreter.I've heard people complain of Heston being cast against type as Silver,stating that he's not doing a hero.Nonsense!Silver happens to be an evil hero!Wood's Smollet is a little too young for the character,and Halsey and Coyle are both much too young for theirs(Hands and Morgan are described as rather elderly pirates)but what of it?They do a fine job.The fight at the stockade is much more elaborate than was described in the book,but can we have a Heston film that doesn't have an epic battle?Besides,it's so much fun.And Silver's escape is not as described in the novel,but it's so original,and so much in character,that we have to cheer the old blackguard in his resourcefulness.Get the video,stock up lots of beverages,make lots of popcorn,and settle back for a rousing,rollicking good time.
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boll-weavil30 November 2008
Most of the comments expressed so far have correctly pointed out this version as the best and, unlike someone's reference to George C Scott's Scrooge, it does actually come directly from the book and not from years of ingrained television adaptations.The reason it is so good is because it echoes correctly the strata of fear that the book is based on. As a child, Jim Hawkins is scared of everyone from the physically hideous Blind Pugh to the men of bloodthirsty reputation - Israel Hands and Blind Pugh and that fear is shown by the pirates in their reverence for Captain Flint and of course, Long John, who commands by reputation alone.In preserving this intact, the whole book and thus, the film, is believable.I know people question some of the language (incorrectly in my view as all those words were spoken by landsmen not natural sailors and were very much in use in that time - the word 'bugger' for example, appears in the diaries of Pepy's hundreds of years earlier).Its easy to say that the film draws influence from early versions but that's inevitable. The Chieftans soundtrack and a very fine cast make it far superior and much more believable. As someone said earlier, you need a proper Silver who can both turn on the charm to convince a young lad but also control a band of cutthroats and Heston achieves that superbly well. You can see clearly how easily intimidated the pirates are because they are uneducated and that's obvious from the exchanges between them and Long John. Postlethwaite is brilliant in these and totally convincing ! Finally, I think someone mentioned a continuity problem earlier.Although having run off, Jim does see a pirate killed, this is only after he has jumped off the jolly boat and run inland.The two aren't connected.He does that for devilment I think and there are other examples of his reckless behaviour elsewhere in the book. What a great story though - the triumph of the stereotypical English gentlemen over the bloodthirsty pirates.I think we all agree on here, this interpretation is spot on !
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The best-yet film adaptation of Treasure Island
dragonteacher10 June 2000
The Christian Bale-Charlton Heston Treasure Island is considered by most critics (and this viewer) as the best film adaptation of the classic novel. Bale does a fantastic job (as always) as the young ship's boy who gets involved with Long John Silver (Heston). The pirates are mean, the good guys win, and even Long John Silver has a streak of honor after all. The PERFECT family adventure film, and a great literary film for teachers to show a class. ALL ages will love the story.
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By far the best adaption
Josef Tura-23 December 1999
The care taken in this movie to remain true to the spirit and words of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel is rare for the adaption of any novel. I read that this was the director's favorite book as a child and his passion for it is immediately obvious to the audience.

The characters are presented exactly as the novel describes them. The infamous Long John Silver is not simplified or turned into a hero but presented as complex as Stevenson wrote him. A ruthless pirate, capable of great generosity and Machivellian cruelty. Heston gives one of the best performances of his career and considering his past performances that is saying a great deal.

Jim Hawkins is played to perfection by Christian Bale. The characters that they actors create actually seem capable of the actions that they take, a rare trait in a film.

It is too bad that this film was not released in theaters, I feel that it should have been nominated for several academy awards for acting, direction and, without a doubt, best adapted screenplay. Anyone who believes that great books can't be translated into films will be pleasantly surprised by this anomaly.
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Good old-fashioned storytellling
Hardwicke Benthow11 March 2011
About a month ago, Robert Newton was Long John Silver to me. I thought you just can't beat his portrayal, no way, no how. That was until I saw Charlton Heston in the 1990 version. He nailed it. It's one of those performances of a literary character that is so good it's as if the character walked off the page. I'm, talking about Jeremy Brett-Sherlock Holmes, Hugh Laurie-Bertie Wooster, David Suchet-Hercule Poirot perfection here.

Christopher Lee was perfect as Blind Pew, and used a surprising voice. I say surprising, because we all know what his voice sounds like. Deep, booming, and sophisticated. Well, as Blind Pew, his voice is high-pitched, and for lack of a better term "wretched-sounding", which for this character, is a good thing.

The rest of the actors were all perfect as well, including Christian Bale as Jim Hawkins and Oliver Reed as Billy Bones. But it is Charlton Heston who steals the show. His Long John Silver is gritty and frightening, yet somehow we can't help but feel a little pity for him. Every second he is on screen, you feel like you are watching a real pirate. As much as I like Robert Newton, Jack Sparrow, etc, Heston's Long John Silver is the real deal.

The cinematography is excellent. It's colorful, and the exotic locations are captured very well. There's no shaky-cam, no unneeded camera movements, no fancy stuff, just good old-fashioned cinematography.

The music is performed by a band known as "The Chieftans". Although it is only a band, not a large orchestra, their Scottish-flavored music fitted the atmosphere well, and occasionally was quite rousing in a swashbuckling sort of way.

The plot, atmosphere, and characters are very faithful to the book, the effect could be described as "deja-vu".

Overall, this is a movie that doesn't try to be groundbreaking or push limits. It doesn't try to be modern, hip, or cool. It just tells a good story, and tells it well.

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A wonderful adaptation that should be on DVD
h-l-workman25 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is easily and by far the best film version of Treasure Island ever created (I think I've seen them all since Treasure Island is one of my favourite books). Even being, as I am, critical of movies based on books, especially historical books, I can't find any fault with it. The historical accuracy is spot on, the sets are wonderful, the fact that it was filmed on location perfect, the use of an actual ship showing a die-hard loyalty to the book, the cast is excellent, the costuming great, and equally important to all of this, the soundtrack is riveting! I've long been a fan of the Chieftains and this film helped to further raise my respect for them. The scene in which Jim is pitted against Israel Hands would be nothing without that wild tapping as Jim runs up the rigging! One of the things I particularly love is how realistic the fight scenes are. Things are slowed down by the re-loading of the guns or complicated by the powder getting wet. And the film doesn't have the silly dancing about with rapiers that previous film versions of the book have, but furious slashes with heavy cutlasses and vicious, ungentlemanly kicking. The fight between Billy Bones and Black Dog is hilariously clumsy, but in a terrifying life-like way. I simply cannot say enough good things about this film. There is only one question that I have: WHERE IS THE DVD VERSION!!???
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Treasure Island is itself a treasure
Steve8 December 2010
This version of the classic Treasure Island novel is without a doubt a classic. It is not only the best film based on the Stevenson classic, but it is also the best pirate film ever. What makes it good enough to be given such honors? Listed below from order of most important to least important are some of the reasons.

1. I would say the most important factor would be this: the pirates sounded and looked like real pirates. In a pirate movie, this is the most crucial piece in making the movie worthwhile. If the pirates are not believable, then the movie really seems cheesy and unrealistic. Seriously- take a second to think this to yourself: "What is a pirate?". There is nothing romantic about them. A pirate is nothing more than a rogue on a ship who has turned to a life of crime and murders and loots and spends all day on a ship surrounded by other crude, dirty, vulgar ruffians. It stands to follow then, that they would be dirty, unsightly, muscular, coarse people with ruff voices. This movie did the best job of any pirate movie in portraying them as just that. 2. This movie also had amazing actors. With a cast that includes Charlton Heston, Christian Bale, Oliver Reed, and Christopher Lee, how could the acting not be superb? All the actors, whether in a supporting role or a leading role, were amazing. 3. The script writers nailed the attitudes of all the characters perfectly. When you heard Captain Smollet you could easily find yourself believing that you were hearing a captain from the olden days speaking to you. 4. The props and costumes were excellent. While I was terribly disappointed by many versions of Treasure Island for their bad costumes, this had perfect costumes. 5. The musical score was absolutely incredible. The music (performed by The Chieftains) was not only beautiful, but it fit the mood of every scene perfectly.

I would say more, but then I'd need to add a spoiler alert, and since I don't want to do that I'll content myself with giving only that small amount of praise.
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