Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea [Import]
Quite possibly better known for a notorious Playboy magazine spread than for its own cinematic merits, The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea is one of the weirder artifacts of the wide-open American cinema of the 1970s. The Japanese setting of Yukio Mishima's novel is transplanted to the English seaside, where an adolescent boy has fallen in with a group of pint-sized fascists (they call each other by numbers, not names). The gang's idea of exploring "the center of reality" is vivisecting a cat, a ritual rendered in dreamlike, repellent detail. Meanwhile, the boy's mother (Sarah Miles) takes up with an ocean-wandering American seaman (Kris Kristofferson), their gauzy nude scenes providing voyeuristic titillation for the peeping son and audience alike (hence Playboy's interest). The combination of Lord of the Flies with the soft-core stuff makes a very awkward match, and the insistent touch of director Lewis John Carlino, who went on to make The Great Santini, does not help. Carlino's montage of shipboard pistons and pumps churning as the sailor arrives in town is a particularly unfortunate foreshadowing of the sexual gymnastics to come. Kristofferson, looking somewhat zonked as he often did in the '70s, is nevertheless effectively cast, and Miles, after Ryan's Daughter and Lady Caroline Lamb, practically had a patent on the sexed-up English (or Irish) rose in movies. Their efforts can't disguise the silliness of the execution. Still, those kids are truly scary. --Robert Horton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I thought this was a fascinating film in a lot of ways. A bit rough in the structure, at times, but overall a very good effort. Some wonderful performances, interesting plot, beautiful scenery.
This movie was quite controversial in 1976, and with its graphic sexuality and shocking cruelty, it still is. Miles is well-cast as the needy widow but sometimes overdoes the cow-eyed trances and histrionics. Kristofferson looks the part of a rugged seaman and the two have great chemistry. The creepy boys' club provides some truly cringe-worthy moments as innocent young boys commit unspeakable acts, and this movie is not for the squeamish (especially animal-lovers).
Lovely Devon locations contrast nicely with the increasing tension and overall feeling of doom. An interesting and haunting movie for adults.
Then there is the bizarre vivisection scene with the anesthetized cat, and the final one with the sailor himself. Since I've never read the book, I'm not sure how these play out in print, but I'm assuming the movie did not fail to capitalize on the more sensationalistic aspects of the book, so if you liked the book, you might also want to check out the movie.
Regarding plot, the filmmakers took an oversimplified approach on Mishima's rich examination into the characters' psyches. This successively leads to the poor character development in the film. The actors sincerely try to display intensity in their characters' roles, but without any understanding of their derivations, they muddle the story. A good example involves the "chief" of the boys' gang. We are given an expose his controlling, fascist behavior: one memorable scene involves him angrily kicking out all the members of the gang from his house due to them not grasping his level of consciousness (the twisted, hateful look on this young boy's face shows his ferocity). But without further details on his motives or personality, it's difficult to surmise his attitude. We only see that he is an angry, manipulative, nihilistic monster.
The love affair between the sailor and the mother of one of the gangmembers actully compounds the film's problems. Although their sex scenes are erotic and very explicit (they were considered quite shocking for that time; today they might qualify as soft-core pornography, albeit many will disagree with this), one is left to wonder what attracts these two who have such disparity between them? The director places great emphasis on this physical attraction and spends much time detailing this.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Great scenary and well acted , good vibs from stars , but a creepy story and one you will remember for a long time.Published on Feb. 9 2011 by Couchgrotan
I was in San Diego several years back and happened into a downtown video store. I was pleased to find a VHS copy of "Sailor" and couldn't wait to get home so I could watch Kris and... Read morePublished on July 17 2004
This film is a failure, I think because surely it's based over a complex novel. Cinema is good for action and image, but surely has his limits. Read morePublished on June 14 2000 by Carlos Vazquez Quintana
I was 22 when this first came out and was a clerk in a drugstore. I remember sneaking peeks at a layout Playboy had done of Kris and Sarah. Then I got to see the movie. Read morePublished on June 7 2000 by Common Sense ViewPoint
Ok - so I was in my late puberty years and Sarah Miles was the hottest thing on my mind - (BECAUSE OF THIS MOVIE) - I cannot forget this flick! Read morePublished on April 7 1999