Luís Buñuel: Robinson Crusoe

Luís Buñuel filming Robinson CrusoeIn 1952, Luís Buñuel made this adaptation of one of the world’s most famous novels, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, during his Mexican period.

As well as being the most famous novel of Daniel Defoe, published in 1719, Robinson Crusoe is considered the first English novel. Defoe modeled on an actual case, the Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk, who suffered a shipwreck that led him to stay more than four years on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific Ocean.

Shot in Mexico, in 1952, during his exile there, although the film was released two years later in 1954, was his first film in colour and the first film to be shot in Eastmancolor in America (a system to film in colour), copies were sent to California every day to see how the result was going. It was the first of only two films that Buñuel filmed in English, the other was The Young One, in 1960. It is also remarkable that the film had a shoestring budget.

The main role was for Irish actor Dan O’Herlihy (he plays the Robinson Crusoe role for almost 60 minutes alone until the other characters appear); thanks to his performance he got a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. And he did not win because of the high level of competition in 1954; he competed for the prize alongside Marlon Brando (who won it), Humphrey Bogart, Bing Crosby, and James Mason. According to O’Herlihy’s words, the producers wanted Orson Welles for the main role. But after showing him the Welles’s role in Macbeth, Buñuel was clear and he said that Welles was too noisy and too fat for it.

For the other characters were chosen, Jaime Fernández as the young “Friday“, Felipe de Alba as Captain Oberzo, Chel López as a boatswain, José Chávez as a Pirate, and Emilio Garibay as Leader of the Mutiny, all of them Mexican .

Despite the movie has a different style to that “normal” style from Buñuel, for many is the best film version of the Defoe’s book, since the director left his personal touch on it, and talking about Buñuel, there is not much room for mediocrity.

Music by British composer Anthony Collins.

V.O. in English with Spanish subtitles. 89 min.

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