10 August 2008

Bale Before Batman

The first movie in which I encountered Christian Bale was the 1990 TNT version of Treasure Island. It is by far my favorite cinema version of the book. In part, I like it because it stays closer to the book than most other versions. But it also has the best cast of any Treasure Island movie I've seen. Sadly, TNT has not released it to DVD. It was released on VHS ... and at the moment there is exactly one copy available from a seller for $90.

As it's been a while since I've seen it, my memory is almost certainly rusty, but Christian Bale was exactly the right age and temperament for the role. When I first saw this, I was thrilled to see that they'd left in the scene where Jim Hawkins (Bale's character) has to move the ship by himself. I don't know enough about old-time ships to say how accurately the scene was done, but it looked good to me, at least. Also, the recently deceased Charlton Heston was the best (as in worst) Long John Silver I've ever seen. He was perfect for the role. He had the disarming charmer turns to cold-blooded killer bit down pat. Christopher Lee also did a nice job as Blind Pew. In fact, I can't think of a single performance that disappointed me in the movie.

The problem with the other live-action versions I've seen is that they invariably want to cutesify it. In the Disney version, for instance, Jim Hawkins is ridiculously young, and Silver doesn't have the right aura of menace. The TNT version, imo, captures the characters as they are in the book, and that is very, very rare for a movie-adaptation from a book.

So while I'm hoping this one will make to to DVD, I was rather pleased to see that the entire thing seems to be up on YouTube in 10-minute increments. Here's Part I:

How long it will stay up is anybody's guess. I figure that if TNT does decide to release it on DVD, the first thing they'll do is pull down any web-versions, but, hey, I can enjoy it while it lasts! Oh, and the permalink to the video's page is here, and links to Parts II through XV should show up as well.

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