In 1883, ship captain Hanson plans a shipwreck salvage mission in The Dutch East Indies to retrieve a cargo of pearls but an unexpected volcano eruption and a state-ordered transport of convicts upset his plans.
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
The producers learned of the geographic error (Krakatoa was west of Java in the Sundra Strait) only after all of the advertising and publicity materials had been prepared. It was deemed too costly to re-do these materials, and possibly delay the release, for the sake of simple geographic accuracy. See more »
The balloon would not be allowed to float untethered since there would be no way to steer the balloon back to the ship. It would be totally at the whim of prevailing winds. The fixed-location engine would be totally useless to steer the balloon since there would be no way to rotate it to the direction opposite of the direction they wished to travel. See more »
I can get down there and I can get back up again, now what happens after that's up to me.
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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 »
Instead of using the original Cinerama version, the MGM DVD used a 35mm version that was restored to 131 minutes. This version has been cropped at the top and bottom of the frame to create the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. this version is also missing the overture, intermission and exit music. See more »
Though "Airport" and "The Poseidon Adventure" are most often credited with kicking off the 1970's disaster craze, this film clocked in just a tad earlier and certainly has its share of catastrophes (though nothing is more disastrous in it than the script!) Set in the late 1800's, Schell is the treasure-seeking captain of The Batavia Queen, a steamship bound for a sunken boat that promises to contain bags of huge, priceless pearls. Baker plays his love interest, a mentally troubled lady upon whose memory the entire mission rests. She is also seeking her lost son who her husband off-loaded somewhere before dying. Keith plays a Laudinum-addicted diver who is literally near his last breath. He's toting tacky would-be singer Werle (outfitted in a series of blonde wigs no doubt leftover from her many TV western appearances.) Also on board are father/son balloonists Brazzi and Mineo, bell diver Leyton and a quartet of Japanese female divers, famed for their breath-holding ability. Things get off to a rough start when a sailor falls to his death merely loading the diving bell onto the ship! Then a thoroughly inappropriate song (sounding like The Beach Boys) plays as the ship slips out of port. It gets worse from there as birds mass, fish die, the sky turns orange, smoke descends everywhere and chunks of lava rock are hurled at the boat (and this is before the climactic eruption of the title volcano which, as everyone knows by now, is WEST of Java, not east!) There's even a gaggle of prisoners placed on board to add to the troubles. In the meantime, a lot of dull, pointless dramatics play out amongst the "Grand Motel"-level cast. Baker frets, alternately wooden and over-the-top. Keith engages in drug-induced violence. Werle sings the planet's deadliest song while stripping off her horribly non-period, period costume. Mineo flirts with the oldest of the female divers. Schell wanders around with a nipple hanging out of his torn shirt. The bell and the balloon run into trouble. Nothing seems to go right for these hapless salvage-seekers and it only gets worse when Krakatoa decides to blow (and blow!) At this point, the volcano shoots like a Roman candle, filling the air with ash and creating a massive tidal wave that would make George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg jealous. If any of this sounds entertaining, it really isn't except for some of the special effects. The characters are never properly fleshed out and mostly don't share much discernible chemistry with each other. The screenplay couldn't be any more thoughtless and pointless, though there is one memorable line when lower class Werle barks at Brazzi, "Labels are for jelly jars!" That one would even do well in today's PC environment! The film was heavily edited after its initial release and what remains is so dull it's hard to imagine what was cut! The opening credits act as a sort of trailer for the film. Some audiences may want to let watching that suffice and skip the rest of the movie!
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