Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ship of Fools (1965)

Passengers on a ship traveling from Mexico to Germany in the 1930s represent society at large in that era. [imdb]
Nominated for 8 Oscars:

Best Picture
Best Actor: Oskar Werner
Best Actress: Simone Signoret
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Dunn
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White (WINNER)
Best Art Direction, Black-and-White (WINNER)
Best Costume Design, Black-and-White

This is a real ensemble cast, with 7-8 big names attached. The best performances were given by Oskar Werner (excellent in playing the ONLY leading character of the film: the ship's doctor), Simone Signoret (playing La Condesa, the most interesting character of the book, which I've read years ago) and Vivien Leigh (playing a stiff middle aged American going nuts). This was also Vivien Leigh's last film performance :( she died two years later.
There's a mix bunch of people of this ship. The characters are faithful to the book, though I imagine it was a nightmare trying to adapt 700 pages in 140 minutes of film. Overall, I'm satisfied. It did get the spirit of the book: strangers on the same boat, representing various aspect of society; and somewhat taking a peek at the origins of Nazism. The film however is not always good. It really is boring sometimes, and some might find it quite long. I was curious about this adaptation, so I can say I enjoyed it.
The nominations are mostly worthy. Oskar Werner IS as I've said GREAT and quite touching. Though Simone Signoret gives the best female performance of the film, I bet she's not on the screen more than 20% of the film. So, this could've easily gone supporting instead of leading. The film really isn't about her character.
My rating for the film: 7.5/10. If you're not into slow dramas/ensemble pieces, don't bother.

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