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Limbo (1999) More at IMDbPro »

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Limbo -- Three castaways await rescue as they elude the drug dealers who are out to kill them. From acclaimed filmmaker John Sayles (Lone Star).
Limbo -- Unconventional narrative about the interactions amongst a group of people in a small town in Alaska, each of whom has guards a secret.


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7.1/10   5,018 votes »
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Down 5% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writer (WGA):
John Sayles (written by)
View company contact information for Limbo on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
7 July 1999 (France) See more »
Acclaimed director John Sayles takes you to the heart of America's last frontier See more »
In an economically devastated Alaskan town, a fisherman with a troublesome past dates a woman whose young daughter does not approve of him. When he witnesses the murder of his shady brother, he, the woman and the kid run to the wilderness. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
2 wins & 4 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Masterful Cinematic Theater See more (140 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio ... Donna De Angelo

David Strathairn ... 'Jumpin' Joe Gastineau

Vanessa Martinez ... Noelle De Angelo
Hermínio Ramos ... Ricky

Kris Kristofferson ... 'Smilin' Jack Johannson
Dawn McInturff ... Audrey

Casey Siemaszko ... Bobby Gastineau
Kathryn Grody ... Frankie
Tom Biss ... Baines
Rita Taggart ... Lou

Leo Burmester ... Harmon King

Michael Laskin ... Albright
Jimmy MacDonell ... Randy Mason
Mérit Carlson-van Dort ... Stacy
Monica Brandner ... Corky
Maria Gladziszewski ... Denise
Dan Rinner ... X-Man
Stephen J. Lang ... Vic (as Stephen James Lang)
Ron Clarke ... Cruise Director
Charlotte Carroll ... Loan Officer
Joaqlin Estus ... Teacher
Andy Spear ... Bad Guy #1
Dave Hunsaker ... Bad Guy #2

Directed by
John Sayles 
Writing credits
John Sayles (written by)

Produced by
Sarah Connors .... associate producer
Maggie Renzi .... producer
Original Music by
Mason Daring 
Cinematography by
Haskell Wexler (director of photography)
Film Editing by
John Sayles 
Casting by
Lizzie Curry Martinez  (as Lizzie Martinez)
Production Design by
Gemma Jackson 
Art Direction by
Keith Neely 
Set Decoration by
Brian Kasch 
Costume Design by
Shay Cunliffe 
Makeup Department
Lori Hicks .... makeup supervisor
Aaron F. Quarles .... hair supervisor
Production Management
Debbie Hayn-Cass .... unit production manager
Maggie Renzi .... unit production manager
Keri Weisblum .... post-production supervisor (as Keri Kravitz)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Sandy McLeod .... second unit director
Brian O'Kelley .... second assistant director
John Powditch .... first assistant director
Art Department
Robert P. Araujo .... carpenter
Glen Aronson .... carpenter
Richard Bain .... carpenter
Jenny Baum .... on-set dresser
Jeff Bevans .... carpenter
Wren Boney .... key set dresser
Matt Champol .... carpenter
Katy Dilkes .... paint foreperson
Tom Fallis Jr. .... carpenter
Dan Fruits .... painter
Laurel Harris .... art department coordinator
Josh Hiney .... construction location foreman
Christopher Humbracht .... propmaker
Janet Kalas .... charge scenic artist
Joseph Kearney .... construction coordinator
Kevin Kropp .... property master
Jason Layton .... construction labor
Eric Lee .... construction labor
Alba Leone .... lead person (as Alba Domini Leone)
Robert Levis .... carpenter
Shawn W. Logue .... assistant property master
Brook Mansbridge .... construction general foreman
William Meyer .... construction labor
Christopher S. Miller .... construction labor
Patrick New .... set dressing assistant
James Leon Newman Jr. .... carpenter
Maureen O'Leary .... property assistant
Abel Orelove .... construction labor
Paul Kevin Pippin .... carpenter
Eli Quisenbarry .... construction labor
Thomas A. Ritchotte .... propmaker
Art Rotch .... carpenter
Marco Rubeo .... set designer
Mel Sandvik .... set dressing assistant
Maurice G. Sandy .... carpenter
Jonathan Scott .... carpenter
Jim Simard .... lead carpenter (as James Simard)
Tim Smeekens .... carpenter
Mara A. Spear .... art department assistant
Monica Streed .... construction assistant
Marcus Trivette .... construction labor
Susan Watson .... painter
Sound Department
Michael Barry .... sound re-recording mixer
Kam Chan .... foley supervisor
Marko A. Costanzo .... foley artist (as Marko Costanzo)
Chris Fielder .... assistant sound editor
Sean Garnhart .... sound effects editor
Lewis Goldstein .... sound effects editor
Matthew Haasch .... foley mixer
Judy Karp .... sound
Frank Kern .... foley editor
Hal Levinsohn .... adr editor
Nicholas Renbeck .... dialogue editor
Jaime Reyes .... boom operator
Jac Rubenstein .... foley editor
Melanie Ryder .... assistant sound editor
Philip Stockton .... supervising sound editor
Jen Ralston .... sound effects editor (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Kevin Kropp .... special effects
Shawn W. Logue .... special effects
Visual Effects by
Travis Baumann .... compositing artist
Matt Dessero .... digital compositor
Camera and Electrical Department
K.C. Bailey .... still photographer
Kevin Boyd .... video assist operator
Eric Budlong .... best boy grip
Kenny Davis .... grip
Don Duffield III .... second assistant camera (as Don Duffield)
Larry Goldin .... director of photography: second unit
Khan Griffith .... assistant lighting technician
Douglas S. Holgate .... aerial camera operator (as Doug Holgate)
Jimmy E. Jensen .... first assistant camera (as Jimmy Jensen)
Vincent Kelley .... grip assistant
Kim Kono .... lamp operator
Steve Lang .... key grip (as Stephen Lang)
Dickinson H. Luke .... lamp operator (as Dickinson Luke)
John R. Manocchia .... chief rigging electrician (as John Manocchia)
Bill Pierson .... dolly grip
Viki Redding .... camera loader
Patrick Reddish .... chief lighting technician
P. Scott Sakamoto .... Steadicam operator
P. Scott Sakamoto .... camera operator
Charlie Waldron .... grip
Thomas D. Watson .... grip assistant
Kevin Erb .... grip (uncredited)
Casting Department
Marcia DeBonis .... additional casting
Joaqlin Estus .... casting assistant
Laura Rosenthal .... additional casting
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Jayne Marie Kehoe .... second set costumer
Austin Myers .... assistant costume designer
Amy Elise Roberts .... key set costumer
Editorial Department
Geoff Garrett .... editing production assistant
Terry Haggar .... color timer
Mo Henry .... negative cutter
Mario Ontal .... assistant editor
Plummy Tucker .... associate film editor
Music Department
Dana Brayton .... orchestrator
Lynn Geller .... music supervisor
Michael Golub .... score mixer
Tim Jackson .... musician: drums
Susan Jacobs .... music supervisor
Shane Koss .... orchestrator
Duke Levine .... musician: guitar
Patrick Mullins .... music editor
Dave Shacter .... music recordist
Transportation Department
Ginger Bean .... driver
Michael Dunlap .... driver
Steve Earle .... driver
Darrell Farmer .... driver
Joe Feeney .... transportation captain
P. Gerald Knight .... transportation coordinator
Mark Long .... driver
Cheryl Parks .... driver
Nicole Richert .... transportation assistant
Shaun Ryan .... driver
Lisa J. Somers .... transportation assistant
Dotti Thompson .... driver
Gene Ward .... driver
William West .... driver
Dan O. Wiseman .... driver (as Dan Wiseman)
Other crew
Lynell Bangs .... production accountant
Marcus Barben .... first chef's helper
Ahnna Baxter .... office production assistant
Scott Baxter .... electric assistant
Suzanne Ceresko .... office assistant: New York
Dawn Todd Curfman .... production coordinator (as Dawn Todd)
Chris Damitio .... craft service attendant
Nick Francis .... office production assistant
Jennifer Zolten Freed .... post-production accountant (as Jennifer Freed)
Bruce Griggs .... boat operator
Galia Hardy .... production assistant
Rob Harris .... publicist
Marilyn Holmes .... boat operator
Daniel Hubbard .... office production assistant
Eddee Kolos .... assistant production coordinator
Patti Marshall .... payroll accountant
Tim Martin .... second chef's helper
Sandy McLeod .... script supervisor
Jennifer Michaels .... stand-in: Ms. Mastrantonio
Gary Miller .... chef
Michael Norwood .... diving researcher
Caroline Hall Otis .... production assistant
Sheff Otis .... unit production assistant
James Pagel .... medical set assistant
Elizabeth Paradiso .... boat operator
Michael Quattrone .... script supervisor intern
Cathy Ragona .... assistant production coordinator (as Cathy Agcayab)
Carla Raij .... location manager
Rachel Renzi-Bailey .... office production assistant
Dan Rinner .... boat operator
Melissa Rubin .... production office manager: New York
Wonder Russell .... extras coordinator
Zandy Russell .... filing clerk
Nancy Schafer .... assistant: Ms. Renzi
Philip Schneider .... production assistant
Russell E. See IV .... stand-in: Mr. Strathairn
Shari Sontag .... assistant production accountant
Andy Spear .... boat coordinator
Bernadette Spear .... craft service attendant, boat operator (as Bernadette Harrington)
Nanci Spear .... boat operator
Pam Stewart .... medical set assistant
Diana Strauss .... assistant location manager
Joe Taylor .... boat operator
Juan Vargas .... location assistant
Dan Villanueva .... electric assistant
Ted Kantrow .... caterer: Alaska (uncredited)
Michael Riley .... title designer (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated R for language
126 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:16 | Australia:M | Finland:S | France:U | Germany:12 | Iceland:L | Iceland:LH (video rating) | New Zealand:M | Singapore:PG | South Korea:12 | Spain:T | Sweden:11 | Switzerland:12 (canton of Geneva) | Switzerland:12 (canton of Vaud) | UK:15 | USA:R (certificate #36465)

Did You Know?

Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): On some occasions when Noelle is reading from the diary in the cabin, she's sitting with her back to the fireplace. Since the fire is the only source of light at night, that would put the diary in shadow and make it unreadable.See more »
Albright:What are you buying when you get on a roller coaster? Not risk... but the illusion of risk. Being hurled to the edge of danger but knowing that you'll never have to cross it. Now Mr. Disney's innovation was to put these carnival rides and attractions into a story context where you can imagine yourself as a character in one of his cartoon epics floating through a plaster of paris jungle. The obvious next step...See more »
(Lookin' For) The Heart of Saturday NightSee more »


Did Smiling Jack tell Joe the truth on the Island?
See more »
15 out of 21 people found the following review useful.
Masterful Cinematic Theater, 23 November 2000
Author: tedg ( from Virginia Beach

I don't know all of Sayles work, but I plan to. This film really impressed me.

What I look for is a few things, that if done well will really satisfy. Among them are:

--daring use of the cinematic medium

--transporting me to a conceptual space that I otherwise wouldn't have experienced

--self reference

CINEMATIC: Sayles is a storyteller, who thoroughly understands what it means to build a narrative scaffold using film. This is theater completely recast for the unique strengths of film, and only possible when the same person writes, directs and edits. This camera is literally introduced as a character when noelle offers it an `hoordoov.' The camera participates, the lights participate. We have overlapping dialog, overlapping cuts, multiple views of the same scene. We have long panning multithreaded scenes. We have a dramatic pacing which starts slow, sets a lot of potential threads and convincingly fools you into relying on certain expectations.

Then narrative commitments are made before you are ready, and then come faster and more unexpectedly until the very gutsy end. Sayles knows in real storytelling, there's a game between teller and listener, each trying to outwit the other. A masterful storyteller teases but plays by the rules, allowing the reader to take risks. It takes craft to do this in the written word, and is extremely rare using the more intimate but external and slippery experience of cinema.

TRANSPORTING: Alaskan wilderness as theme park where stories are safely refined for casual visitors. That would be enough given this level of craft. But Sayles takes us into Noelle's diary world. That's the center of this film's world, the world of the mystical Shefox. Deep imagery here -- superficially referenced in the `real' action. I do not expect to ever forget that visit. The self-reference is in both.

Much has been made of the actors, and I think that a mistake since the creative force here is clearly Sayles. But this girl Martinez has some magic. Who will write parts for her?

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