Swept from the Sea (1997) Poster

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A picture for those who care more for sound stories than for special effects
alberto f. cañas18 May 1999
The British have dedicated themselves lately to film their wonderful 19th century novels: Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, and have come now into the 20th for a Joseph Conrad short story with a strong 19th century flavor. It's their answer to the special effects-oriented Hollywood film. And they are catering to the older audiences, those who care more for story values and literary qualities than for the display of technical advances in films. Any one who cared for Sense and Sensibility, The Return of the Native and Persuasion, will have a real feast in Swept from the Sea. The Conrad story is beautiful, and the adaptation is intelligent. A memorable musical score by John Barry, the breathtaking photography and the magnificent scenery are real assets for those who pursue an esthetic experience in the movies. Old fashioned? Perhaps. But the emotional experience is second only to that of Wuthering Heights, which it resembles in certain secondary aspects. Forget the unfavorable reviews you may have read, practically all of them oriented toward teenagers. Swept from the Sea is a film for mature audiences.
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Worthy tribute to Conrad's writing and philosophy
Keith F. Hatcher15 December 2003
Konrad Korzeniowski at age 15 ran away from his native Poland to seek fortune in the world - the same as Yanko Gooral in this film - and fetched up at Marseilles. There he signed on as crewman on a merchant vessel and spent the next 15 years sailing the seven seas. At 30 years of age he landed in London and decided to settle. He married and began writing novels - in English. Now, what kind of English he learnt aboard merchant sailing ships late in the 19th Century might well be imagined: Greeks, Italians, Chinese, Filipinos, Indians, Galicians.........

However, his novels are among the greatest literary achievements in literature in the English language. His first novel near 1900, but as he had not been schooled in the Victorian style, his narrative was entirely different. Basing himself on his own experiences roaming the wild and wide seas, where he even went through a shipwreck, his novels were on the one hand resounding novels of adventure, if not of the swashbuckler type, but backed up by that deeply rooted Russian philosophical sense of feelings and human emotions. His novels are not simply `yarns' as such; nor are they simply romantic `nouvelles'; nor are they simply autobiographical; they are combination of all these, and much more. Today, among the best pieces of literature ever written in English, we have `Lord Jim' and `Nostromo', two gigantic tales with superb human and humane backgrounds.

Simply watching a film based on a Joseph Conrad novel is not enough to reveal all the invisible, profound thoughts, the real human philosophy of life, how humans think and react under different situations. To really understand this author it is imperative that you slowly read and digest his works. Perhaps you should start with `Almayer's Folly' before embarking on the two previously mentioned masterpieces.

However, `Swept from the Sea', based on his story `Amy Foster' does wonderfully well in not only showing the story, but also giving us a glimpse into the powerful thinking of Joseph Conrad. This point was evidently on Ms. Beeban Kidron's mind when she set out on making this film. Ably helped by her cast, the result is pretty good, even more than good. Vincent Perez is not bad, even quite good at times; Rachel Weisz has made the job of her life in a highly concentrated reading, and the supporting cast like Ian McKellar and Kathy Bates is top-notch stuff. The filming sequences on the Cornish coast in the deep south west of England, especially with the fog curling round the forelands and creeping up the inlets and into the harbours, or in the pouring rain, gives excellent ambientation to the telling of the story. John Barry's musical apportation was the same as always, such that if I had closed my eyes I might well have been watching `Dances With Wolves' (qv); however it fitted in with the proceedings and the photography well enough.

Filmed on the wild coastline of Cornwall, south-west England, now tamed by the August hordes of campers and footpathers, carvanners and English language learners; IMDb lists Pentire Point on the northern coastline, but I cannot help thinking that I saw some village streets such as in Mullion, Coverack or even Mousehole (pronounced "muzzle") on the south coast of that beautiful holidaying area of England. The famous author John Le Carré also has his home down there.

This is a film worth seeing, even for the most pedantic and enthusiastic readers of Conrad's novels such as I, precisely because I think Conrad himself would have been quite pleased with Ms. Kidron's work, with Tim Willocks' very correct adaptation for the screen.

But whatever happens, do not pass up reading and seeing Conrad's Masterpiece, converted into a masterpiece for TV "Nostromo" (1996) (mini) (qv).
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Achingly beautiful
jenmackin601 August 2004
I caught this movie today by chance, it was a quiet Sunday so i gave it a chance. The beauty of the landscape is matched by Rachel Weisz. Vincent Perez has the most kind eyes that completely draw you in. Their passionate love affair leaves you absolutely breathless. Ian McKellen shines. His portrayal of a man scarred from and scared of love is tremendous. The look in his eyes near then end when he realizes that he was wrong about Weisz's character is filled with anguish and regret. Perez is a perfect gentleman in every respect, even when he comes up against the harsh and cruel opposition of the people in his new home. You not only feel for him in his anguish but feel with him. This movie sticks with you afterwords. It makes you feel beautiful and you ache with the characters. Highly recommended.
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Tynne1 August 2004
I managed to catch this film while channel surfing and quickly ushered my children outside so that I could enjoy the show. Although the cinematography may not be up to Hollywood standards of crisp, digitized landscapes I found the film to be a wonderful tale. If you have felt like the outsider, ever tried to shut off your emotions in order to stop others from hurting you - you will have no trouble relating to the character of Amy Foster. The acting was well done (I am not an expert at English dialects, although I'd say the accents were as adequately done as the actors who attempted the Newfie accent in The Shipping News). I love historical tales (Jane Austen is a favourite) and thoroughly enjoyed this one as well. 8 out of 10
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tpaigeba10 February 2003
It was a mean time both historically and geographically. The people lived on a stark and barren spit of land attached to a strikingly beautiful yet often-ferocious sea. Storms were frequent and accompanied by howling winds, slashing rains and crashing waves which occasionally ended in catastrophic shipwrecks. People scratched around just to subsist. The harsh elements succeeded in stealing love from their souls, much as the sea stole lives from the broken ships. Those who did not fit in were scorned and made to suffer. Notwithstanding all this however, this story talks to the will of 2 simple people, who though raised in a harsh land by even harsher people manage to find love and peace, albeit for a short while, despite outrageous cruelties visited upon them. *** 1/2 Stars; 1 Hankie.
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I'm awe
eljohn314 January 2007
I awoke early in the morning to by chance catch this particular movie. Or more so it caught me. This beautiful story of powerful love is quite the heart-wrenching story of tragedy, and in many ways a more powerful image of what you can endure for love, and what love can endure. If I can say nothing else, I would like to say I'm glad that I was allowed the opportunity to watch it. Ian McKellen as always created a spectacular character. His character, Kennedy, is the physician in the town that the main character Yanko washes up on. Kennedy is thoughtful and well presented. Another example of these magical characters within this story is Miss Swaffer, played by Kathy Bates. Its as if the people playing these character have a real love for the story, making them appear more than just two-dimensional figures, but real living breathing people.
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The eyes have it
bandimal20 June 2001
I rented this movie because I was trying to watch as many Rachel Weisz movies as possible (inspired by her acting in The Mummy Returns). I must say this movie is a gem I would have otherwise missed. I think this movie is all about subtlety of character. The whole enigma around Amy Foster exists only because people don't appreciate the subtleties of her personality and interactions with others. As Dr. Kennedy says in his narration, her silence was not out of inaction or stupidity; rather it was a way of communicating either disdain, disinterest, or disapproval for how others were treating her. Amy's main way of communicating, aside from her silence, was through her eyes. Even though Yanko learned to speak English, he also appreciated and learned to communicate in Amy's own language. I liked Vincent Perez's acting in this movie. His Russian accent was pretty authentic. The other British accents seemed to be mixed between various regions. I'd say this is probably the best acting I've seen out of Rachel Weisz in the five of her movies I've seen. However I notice that those expressions which I felt were so striking in this movie for this character are rather stereotyped expressions that she uses in general. I don't know whether that is what the directors are looking for or if this is one of the few acting flaws that Ms. Weisz might yet overcome. Overall score: 8/10
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Excellent - well worth watching
MovieDude-414 December 2002
This movie is excellent. I knew the cast was good, and in fact all the performances are first class, but the story and the scenery are equally inviting. I caught this on a wet afternoon, and I was totally drawn in. Well worth watching, my only quibble is with the sound, which is too quiet during speech passages and too loud during the music and sound effects.
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A desire to dive deeper.
curaceau7 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is a sad little gem of a movie. I really liked that the plot explored more themes than just romantic love. The story had just as much to do with issues of identity, community, and fidelity. In my opinion, there were a few technical and narrative flaws that kept the film from attaining the level of greatness that it deserved, especially when considering the quality of the performances. The slight quiver in Weisz's voice was right on target as was Perez's accent. The rest of the illustrious cast was more than capable. In regards to the type of story and the setting, I can't help but think that a three-part mini-series would have been a more appropriate treatment than a feature film. I emerged from watching the movie with a feeling that there was a lot more to explore beneath the surface of each character.
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Beautiful, tragic love story
MagicStarfire13 January 2007
Set in England, probably in the 1800s, this film deals not only with a beautiful love story, but with being an outsider--and the kind of ugly hatred some people exhibit towards those they consider different from themselves. It also deals with blaming others and not accepting the responsibilities of your own faults.

Yanko Gooral(played by gorgeous Vincent Perez) is a young man from the Ukraine, who, with some other young men from the Ukraine, decides to go to America.

Amy Foster (played by beautiful Rachel Weisz) is a young Englishwoman, who works as a servant, and helps support her hateful parents and younger siblings. Eventually we discover a shocking secret about Amy and her parents, that explains their warped bitterness.

The ship Yanko is on is destroyed in a storm, flinging him up onto the coast of England; when he wanders ashore, he is at first treated like a lunatic by the fearful inhabitants.

Unable to speak English, Yanko is unable to communicate with anyone and Amy is the only person who treats him with any human kindness.

Eventually he is befriended by a Dr. Kennedy, and another family in the area, learns English, and his life seems to be becoming somewhat better. However the ignorant and bigoted, of which there are many, continue to give both him and Amy a hard time. In fact, the actions of the bigots lead indirectly to what finally happens to this young man.

I didn't pick it up until almost the end of the movie, but in my opinion, there's a bit of an undercurrent of homo-eroticism in the doctor's feelings regarding Yanko--which ties in to the doctor's behavior towards Amy, and leads eventually to an unexpected scene between him and Amy at the conclusion of the film.

10 stars
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An interesting failure
Jeremy-1241 January 1999
The cinematography and the music in this film are wonderful, and there is a great supporting performance from Ian McKellan. But while the story was a very emotional one I found myself unmoved. For me Vincent Perez' performance didn't work at all -- I couldn't see past his studied "wildness" and fake accent. And Rachel Weisz, as Amy, is such an enigma that I didn't feel much for her except for a couple of intense scenes. McKellan's Dr. Kennedy is the character I was drawn to. He brings depth and humanity to his role. It was a bit confusing, though -- I wasn't sure if we were supposed to think that Dr. Kennedy felt a homosexual love for Yanko (Perez). And I found the movie much too slow, especially the first half. It felt like a short story dragged out to feature length, which it was. This movie is worth renting, but for me it was ultimately forgettable.
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Beautiful and moving tale
Gordon-113 November 2008
This film is about a Russian man who survives a shipwreck. He stays in Britain to start a new life, only to face maltreatment and discrimination. His life turns a new chapter when he falls in love against all odds.

"Swept from the Sea" is definitely a beautiful and emotional film. The second half of the film had so much emotions that captured me. It engages me so much that I wanted to know what will happen the next second. Rachel Weisz is brilliant in it, her fear in the hut and the subsequent guilt are played very well. Her lines about her dearest belongings being swept from the sea are touching and thought provoking. It saddens me as it highlights her position as an outcast in the community.

However, I find the first half of the film rather inconsistent. The relationship between different characters are inadequately introduced, so I was completely confused by the shocking revelation about Amy Foster's heritage.

Overall, I enjoyed watching "Swept from the Sea".
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old fashion romantic tale
SnoopyStyle15 May 2016
It's late 19th century, Cornwall, England. Amy Foster (Rachel Weisz) has a son and works for bedridden Miss Swaffer (Kathy Bates). Amy was a result of a scandalous birth and sent to work for the Smiths at 12. Her father Isaac Foster was denied his family inheritance. Her parents have always been cold to her. Some years earlier, Yanko Góral (Vincent Perez) from the Carpathian Mountains is on his way to America, the land of true gold. His ship sinks on a stormy night. Bodies wash ashore and he's the sole survivor. He stumbles onto the Smith's farm. Amy shows kindness to the foreigner who speaks no English. He's working for Mr. Swaffer (Joss Ackland) when Dr. Kennedy (Ian McKellen) finally makes the connection. Kennedy teaches him English while he teaches Kennedy chess. He starts a romance with Amy. The small town is suspicious of the newcomer. Amy's mother has a dark secret about Amy's conception.

This is an old time romance. There are stormy nights and wind swept cliffs. The locals are small-minded. Rachel Weisz shows her quiet sadness acting skills. There is plenty of death and tragedy. The start is too slow. It doesn't need to do the flashforward. It doesn't need to show Yanko's homeland. All it really needs to start are the bodies washing ashore. The style could also be more epic. The stark landscape could have given more atmosphere to the tone. It's an old time romance done in a relatively old time way.
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Not that good, really.....
harrywolf19 March 2005
Acting? Not so hot, in fact quite poor. If you like Hollywood, you wont notice this. For the record, 'Mousehole' is pronounced locally as 'Mousall', not 'muzzle'. Accents were poor. Go to Cornwall if you don't believe me. Lots of continuity errors. Did I say the acting was poor? Over-acting, melodramatic stuff. Poorly made. How can all these reviews here like this movie? Lousy script too - did I watch the same movie? This thing is pretty much unwatchable - are you folks on prozac? This was like a bad silent movie. The melodramatic music/scenes in the early stages left us in no doubt as to the outcome. Not enough dialogue.

Lots wrong with this movie. Sorry.
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Yanko is not Russian
moyaimya8 November 2010
Just a point of clarification regarding the summary for this film: Yanko is not Russian in this film. If you listen carefully to what he is actually saying in the movie, he is speaking Ukrainian. For example, in the scene later in the movie in which he is feverish, he keeps repeating a phrase over and over again. The phrase that he is saying is, "Dai meni vodi." In English translation, he is saying, "Give me some water." In addition, the immigration details of his circumstances and trip would fit with immigration from Ukraine or borderlands between Ukraine and Poland (although he is not speaking Polish) at the turn of the century. He plays chess, which would be consistent with Ukrainian heritage (among others). Finally, his clothing and the type of dance he does with his son is Ukrainian in style. The expansive arms and the gentleness with which he is dancing speaks more of a Ukrainian dance style than a Russian style. However, the most obvious and relevant point is that the language he is speaking in the film is Ukrainian, not Russian. Unfortunately, many people confuse Russian culture with Ukrainian and other East European peoples. IMDb probably should correct its description of this film for accuracy.
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Beautiful, tragic and haunting
TheLittleSongbird21 June 2010
My only complaints being the occasionally sluggish pacing and the variable sound ranging from too loud to too quiet, this is a beautiful, tragic and haunting film based on an even more beautiful, tragic and haunting story. The direction is very romantic but I never actually found it overblown or melodramatic, and the story does convey a range of emotions especially in the second half. In terms of effective scenes, the opening scene did set the atmosphere really well, and the rock pool love scene I actually didn't have any problem with, clichéd perhaps but random no not really. The scenery, sets, costumes and cinematography are meticulous, the score is stunning, the screenplay is honest and the acting from Rachel Weisz, Vincent Perez, Kathy Bates, Ian McKellen and Joss Ackland is spot on. Overall, Swept from the Sea:The Story of Amy Foster is a beautiful, tragic and haunting story, that is worth seeing. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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What a love story!
zemrat92972 August 2005
Not only is the geographical scenes breathtaking but so is the love story. I think Vincent Perez is the hottest new actor out there! Just goes to show that love does conquer all and the heartache these 2 lovers endure from the people of the country. Its a simple love story that takes your heart away....

The little cottage overlooking the mountains and water is amazing! Something every woman should long to have! This indeed was one of the best love stories I have seen and would recommend it to anyone and everyone, I saw watch it with the one you love....and like every good story of love, there always is a sad ending......
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a definate chick flick
jilbert5923 May 2002
i had never even heard of this movie before, i just picked it up at the rental place, brought it home, and fell in love with it. the characters are so real and emotional that i couldnt stop myself from being sucked into the movie. i watched it with my girl friends and its an experience i'll never forget! watch it!
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madshell14 July 2000
This picture is one of those films that many have mixed reviews on. I, for one, think it is a sublime story about how two people can find comfort and security within each other while the outside world cannot accept them.

I have heard one reviewer claim that if the character of Amy Foster was as beautiful as Rachel Weisz, absolutely no one would isolate her. Absolute rubbish!! It is indeed isolation to be beautiful -- Beauty often intimidates others. I think that is the bigger verdict for this film.

Beautiful cinematography and sweeping natural romantic storytelling, accented by the superb acting talents of Ms. Weisz and "Queen Margot"'s Vincent Perez make this feature a breathtaking, underrated film.
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subtle, thought provoking and romantic
cm-928 September 2001
A combination of a wonderful story, strong, interesting and attractive characters, and a very fine cast made this film a pleasant surprise for me. My wife and I rented it, thinking it would be 'just another period drama' but wanting to see Rachel Weisz ... then as we watched the opening credits, and saw in quick succession, 'Vincent Perez', 'Joss Ackland', 'Ian McKellen', 'Zoe Wanamaker' we knew we would be in for a treat!

If you are a Rachel Weisz fan, this has to be her best film so far, and she certainly uses her interesting dark looks to better effect here than in Chain Reaction or the recent Beautiful Creatures. Although her character is largely silent throughout this film, she has enormous screen presence, standing out even amongst this all-star cast.

I won't comment too much on the plot, as I am sure it means different things to different people, but we enjoyed the humanity and liberal views of the doctor and the squire, and the contrast with the ingrained xenophobia of the working men - perhaps a bit trite, since this seemed to us un-Victorian and closer to what you might expect in the present day, but on the other hand maybe it was already in the Joseph Conrad story (I don't know, I haven't read it).

Negative points:

other users have commented on the cinematography; I found it rather flat, for example the weather never seemed to change (very un-British!) and I did not feel the crispness of the seaside atmosphere was captured. The locations mostly looked to me like Yorkshire rather than Cornwall, and there were few long shots (usually difficult because there is an electricity pylon or other modern-day eyesore in the frame, but these problems can be overcome...)

also the accents ... Vincent Perez was particularly good, but Rachel Weisz was too well-spoken for a servant girl (does her accent ever change??) and none of the farmers or fishermen seemed to have a Cornish accent ... except Zoe Wanamaker made a half-decent effort.
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Good, solid movie
Boyo-26 August 1998
First of all, let me explain that normally I would not even attempt to watch a movie like this. But its really very good, much better than I was expecting. The leads are so beautiful that its almost annoying. Solid supporting work from Kathy Bates and Zoe Wanamaker. Didn't know they still made them like this; glad they do.
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A movie of extremes
CinemaZealot5720 August 2013
This flick is one of the better couples movies out there. Loaded with romance from the heart. Two people that are outcasts (both undeservedly)find each other and the magic happens as they say. Oppression of the soul from others in the town. Cursed by townspeople for no fault of their own other than one being a foreigner and the other a despised beautiful young woman with a questionable birth right. This flick is loaded with moments when you want to reach out and punch people for the way they treat the featured lovers. Exceptionally well cast movie. The acting and emotional portrayals are true to the core. You just can't beat a really good actor or actress. And this flick is loaded with them. If you want a nice romantic night with your sweetie then watch this flick together. You will not regret it.
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Would watch this movie again and again!
lyetter5 September 2006
This is a great movie - it has everything - even a view! The filming, direction, acting, dialog, score, location and actors are all top-notch! Not only was this movie a joy to watch, it kept me thinking about it for many days afterward. And it definitely had me sitting on the edge of my seat a few times! I found the articulation of the dialog impressive and the characterization of 19th century Cornwall, England enchanting. The way the flavour of the times came through is worth noting as well. Vincent Perez is marvelous in this role, as he portrays a most sympathetic character. The views throughout the film are breathtaking! I felt transported though time while watching. This is a must-see movie!
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"Swept from the Sea" - Amazing, you must see this. My 4th favorite film.
Echdrum11 March 2006
"Swept from the Sea" ('Amy Foster') is my 4th or 3rd favorite film of all time. The shortest way I can describe it is: "Amy" has a sad family secret which makes her the 'outcast' of the town. "Yanko" is a Ukrainian that is the sole survivor of his ship wreck. As his language is so odd to the people of Cornwall they just assume that he is dim in the head. (They are both outcasts). Amy Foster feels for him as they are both living in their hard - outcast time and he falls for her. It is so difficult for both of them just get one foot forward in their life or in any sort of a relationship with their yucky surroundings. If you do not feel for this film (these characters) you have no soul. Post Script- Ian McKellan, Kathy Bates & Joss Acklund are fantastic in this movie.
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ladypalasatenea20 December 2005
Bandeman on June 20, 2001 wrote: "I'd say this is probably the best acting I've seen out of Rachel Weisz in the five of her movies I've seen. However I notice that those expressions which I felt were so striking in this movie for this character are rather stereotyped expressions that she uses in general. I don't know whether that is what the directors are looking for or if this is one of the few acting flaws that Ms. Weisz might yet overcome." I want to say what I think about that because I have seen this situation many times in different actors and actress. I think it's not only the directors or the character, but the casting. I mean, they are often selected because the producers, directors or writers have seen them acting in a movie, specially who has a career, so, some expressions are used for the new character no matter the play is.
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