Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Robinson Crusoe


This isn’t one of Luis Buñuel’s surrealistic masterpieces like his co-creation, with Salvador Dali, Un Chien Andalou. It’s much more of a Hollywood-type production, though it was filmed in Mexico, but it’s a damn good film all the same. Buñuel was a superb visual artist, and every set-up and shot is interesting in one way or another. The colors are lush, tropical, and yet sometimes look very menacing. Buñuel was also one of those people hounded for many years by the treasonous, traitorous, termite-brained pipsqueaks on the House Un-American Activities Committee and others of their fascistic ilk. However, he had a big advantage over those whose careers were ruined: He was a Spaniard, and happy to work south of the border in Mexico. It’s our loss that many of those Spanish films are hard to find or unavailable. Luckily for us, he was able to come back to America and make many more fine films, like The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and Belle de Jour. In this one Dan O’Herlihy plays Crusoe, and thus has the whole picture on his shoulders for more than half of the film. He does a great job of it. I was a little less impressed by Jaime Fernández as Friday, but it’s a thankless role. He gets to grovel a lot, and behave like a retarded man. I was surprised to learn that he was a very big star in Mexico, with a 54-year career that only ended in 2003, and a list of credits 171 pictures long. Just goes to show you, there are many, many huge stars in other countries that even film buffs like me are unaware of. I have never read the book, and was surprised to learn that the voyage on which Crusoe was wrecked was to buy slaves for his plantation. Well, it was the morality of the day, I guess. And after a lot of soul-searching, he sees the error of his ways. He first regards Friday as his slave, but eventually accepts him as his friend.