A five-part Italian-language miniseries about a young Englishwoman searching for her blind sister in Italy. Not to be confused with the English-language feature film version The Secret of Seagull Island (1981).
Barbara Carey flies to Italy to visit her blind sister Mary Ann, who is studying in a music academy. Once in Rome Barbara discovers her sister has disappeared and, according to the Italian police, she may have been murdered by a maniac who is obsessed with young sightless women. With the help of Martin Foster, from the British Embassy, Barbara starts trying to find out what happened to Mary Ann. She even pretends to be blind herself in an attempt to attract the killer, and finally the clues lead her to Seagull Island, privately owned by a mysterious British citizen named David Malcolm. Barbara must then find the answers to several questions: was Mary Ann really kidnapped? What happened to David's wife and son in the island? And why is David's relative Carol so unhappy to see a woman with him?Written by
The only really good thing about "Secret of Seagull Island" is the end when you figure out the secret. But until that point, the series is so boring that it feels much longer than the 100 minutes reserved for it. Admittedly in the first 10-15 minutes, I was intrigued. A young woman, Barbara Carey (Prunella Ransome), goes to Rome in search of her sister and discovers that she has been missing for three weeks. Concerned, Barbara learns that her sister's disappearance may have occurred on an island owned by an eminent and mysterious archaeologist named David Malcom (Jeremy Brett). The police (who are assisting Barbara) have also suggested a theory that the sister was murdered by a serial killer who targets blind women. So Barbara arranges a "coincidental" meeting with David Malcom and tries to catch his interest by posing blind. The plan works and Barbara is invited by David to the island.
Once Barbara and David get on the island, the film bogs down. I suspect that the film-makers thought they could sell this series with pictures of Italy and coral reefs that came straight out of some tourist brochure. They were wrong. The cinematography is expressionless and it technical quality is poor (the cinematic images of another terrible movie called "The Blue Lagoon" are so much better). Another flaw is that terrible film soundtrack played throughout this movie that is meant to sound mysterious and suspenseful, but cannot express much of either.
A great screenplay may have overcome these deficiencies, but the screenplay for this film is poorly conceived. For example, David Malcom tried to lure in Barbara (who was pretending to be blind) with tales of the island's beauty and my reaction was that this is ridiculous. Since he assumes the woman is blind, David Malcom must know that she will not be able to appreciate the island's beauty and therefore the lure could not possibly work. As for the performances, some reviewers, who hated the series, have praised the acting. I do not think their praise is entirely unwarranted, but they overlooked a few drawbacks in the performances. To begin with, good actors, aided by a good screenplay and expert direction, should establish some connection with their audience. But watching Seagull Island, I felt no urge to care about these characters or what they went through. Prunella Ransome, as Barbara, cried out quite often in this film, but my reaction was annoyance. I think part of the problem was that her character was poorly written and the other part was that Ms. Ransome is not a good actor. Jeremy Brett is a gifted actor, but he was miscast as the mysterious and unstable David Malcom. He put on several strange facial expressions and went on long angry rants, but what was lost in all that drama was believability in his own performance. Brett was overplaying his character, when something more restrained may have made his David Malcom seem more effective. But ultimately the blame for this movie's failure rests on Director Nestore Ungaro who has failed bring together all the elements of filmmaking and the result is a series that is rough on the eyes and a chore to watch.
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