The Perfect Storm
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Perfect Storm can be found here.

Just back in Gloucester (Massachusetts) with a not-so-great catch, Billy Tyne (George Clooney), captain of the swordfishing boat Andrea Gail, decides to take the boat out once more before the season ends in October. Along with his five man crew -- Bobby Shatford (Mark Wahlberg), David "Sully" Sullivan (William Fichtner), Dale "Murph" Murphy (John C. Reilly), Mike "Bugsy" Moran (John Hawkes), and Alfred Pierre (Allen Payne) -- Billy decides this time go out further than the Grand Banks, all the way to the Flemish Cap, not knowing that there is a perfect storm brewing around them.

Yes. The movie is based on The Perfect Storm (1997), a creative nonfiction book by American author Sebastian Junger. It was adapted for the film by screenwriter William Wittliff. Linda Greenlaw has also written a book, The Hungry Ocean (2000), that details a typical month in her career as the world's only female swordfish boat captain.

The 'Perfect Storm' was the name given to a real 1991 nor'easter that evolved into a hurricane off the Atlantic coast of Canada. As the movie explains it, the perfect storm was due to four weather patterns coming together: (1) Hurricane Grace moving north off the Atlantic seaboard, (2) a low south of Sable Island, (3) a cold front swooping down from Canada, and (4) the warm Gulf Stream. When these four elements met, the cold front spawned an extratropical cyclone east of Nova Scotia that intermingled with the remnants of Hurricane Grace and ultimately evolved into a hurricane itself.

Yes, although the movie dramatizes four different stories about people who were caught in the storm. The main story is based on the Andrea Gail, a 72-foot commercial-fishing vessel (home port Marblehead, Massachusetts) that sailed from Gloucester, Massachusetts on 20 September, 1991, bound for the Grand Banks, with Captain Billy Tyne at the helm. Because the fishing was poor, she then headed for the Flemish Cap. After her ice machine malfunctioned 36 days later, the Andrea Gail headed for home on 26 October. On the way home, she got caught in the "Perfect Storm." However, much of the movie's drama, e.g.,catching the shark, one of the crew getting pulled overboard by an errant hook, etc. was either based on prior trips, interviews with past crew members, or stories about other fishing vessels. The actual guess work was the sinking itself, since the Andrea Gail had no communications during that period. The other three stories concern (1) Linda Greenlaw (played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), the captain of the Hannah Boden, sister ship to the Andrea Gail, (2) the plight of the Mistral, a yacht caught in the storm waters, and (3) the attempts of the Coast Guard and Air National Guard to rescue the sailors on both the Andrea Gail and the Mistral. If you view the "HBO First Look" in the Special Features on the DVD, you'll see the real-life Linda Greenlaw meet Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

Where is Gloucester?

Gloucester, Massachusetts is a port city located on Cape Ann, about 40 miles up the coast from Boston. The town took its name from the city of Gloucester in southwest England. Gloucester can be seen on the following map of Massachusetts.

The Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap are located in the Atlantic Ocean, east of Newfoundland, Canada. A map of the waters can be seen here. The waters of Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap are noted as excellent fishing waters due to the underlying shallow plateau and the mixing of the cold Labrador Current with the warm waters of the Gulf Stream.

According to the novel, Bobby and Christina (Diane Lane) got into a fight about him heading out again on the Andrea Gail. The next morning, she opens her eyes, squints up at him, and notices that one of Bobby's eyes is the color of an overripe plum. "Did I do that?" she asks. In the movie, Chris asks Bobby the same question, but no explanation is given for how he got the shiner. Most viewers conclude that they either got into a fight after drinking or had a rough time in bed.

In the movie, it was intimated that Sully was the new guy and Murph wanted to break him in or that Sully was somehow involved in the breakup between Murph and his wife. In the book, it was Bobby and Bugsy who were fighting, not Murph and Sully.

Shark meat is considered by some to be very tasty, but the Andrea Gail was probably not set up to process shark. Sharks have no urinary tract; their urine accumulates in the blood and is then secreted through the skin. Storing a shark would have contaminated the rest of their catch.

How does the movie end?

After battling the ferocious seas and losing their antenna, radio, and stabilizer, the captain of the Andrea Gail concludes that they cannot make it through the storm. He orders them to turn around and promises the crew that they will go out again in the future and that the fish will be waiting for them. After successfully making the turn, however, they are hit by a huge wave. Billy attempts to climb over the wave, but it hits them full force and dumps the boat over. Only Bobby manages to escape before the Andrea Gail sinks. Bobby's last words, as he is batted about by the waves, are to Christina. "No goodbye," he says. "There's only love, Christina...only love." After a week long search, the Coast Guard suspends rescue efforts and declares the loss of Air National Guard pararescue jumper Sgt Millard Jones and of the crew of the Andrea Gail. Linda Greenlaw reads the eulogy at their funeral, and their names are added to a roster of all the Gloucester sailors who have been taken by the sea throughout the years. Somewhat later, as Chris and Billy's mother sit together on the dock, Chris tells her about a dream in which Bobby comes to her and says, "There is no goodbye. Only love." In the final scene, Linda heads back out to sea. Billy's voice can be heard going through her mind.

It's a traditional Maritime Hymn called "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" (aka "The Navy Hymn" or "For Those In Peril on the Sea)," written in 1860 by Reverend William Whiting. It is now the official hymn of the US Naval Academy and is traditionally sung at funerals for sailors. Lyrics to "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" can be found here.

Page last updated by bj_kuehl, 8 months ago
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