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Robinson Crusoe

Released Aug 5, 1954 1h 30m Adventure List
Reviews 70% Audience Score Fewer than 50 Ratings When he is shipwrecked on a deserted island, aristocratic adventurer Robinson Crusoe (Dan O'Herlihy) must find a way to survive using only a few salvaged supplies and weapons. He also rescues a dog and a cat, who keep him company, but loneliness soon overwhelms him -- as does fear, when he notices that there are cannibals on the island. However, when he rescues one of the cannibals' prospective victims, he gains a new friend, Friday (Jaime Fernández). Read More Read Less

Critics Reviews

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Roger Moore Tribune News Service Buñuel "Crusoe" holds up like the benchmark telling of the story it has long been, the version every adaption since has referred to, even those that modernized its values and morality. Rated: 2.5/4 Aug 27, 2021 Full Review Robert Bingham The Reporter Straightforward, unpretentious, this definitive filming of Robinson Crusoe should be frequently revived. Feb 10, 2022 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Matthew B I must admit that I have never been a great admirer of Daniel Defoe's famous adventure story, Robinson Crusoe. While I respect Defoe's imagination in writing about the woes and victories of his popular castaway, I struggle with the complacent viewpoint expressed by the narrator and author. Crusoe is unashamedly conservative, Christian and colonialist. He imposes his own western values on every aspect of the island, and sometimes this is hard to take. It is therefore all the more surprising that the story of Robinson Crusoe was filmed by Luis Buñuel, the notorious Spanish-born director. In contrast to Crusoe, Buñuel was a communist, an atheist, a surrealist, and a man who had an amused fascination with sexual fetishism. (Buñuel denied that he was a communist, but he certainly identified with the left-wing Republican side during the Spanish Civil War.) What is even more surprising is that Buñuel's Robinson Crusoe is a very well-made movie, the best adaptation of Robinson Crusoe to make it to the screen. How did a man with Buñuel's views manage to tackle a story with such right-wing tendencies? Did Buñuel somehow manage to sneak into it some of his surrealist art, his sexual fetishism, or his political or religious sympathies? For Buñuel, the main theme of the film is Crusoe's salvation from insanity, thanks to the company of Friday. Here is a theme that allows Buñuel to explore the fringes of human experience. Indeed we may wonder whether some of the odd touches in the film reflect Crusoe's lapses into insanity. At one point Crusoe cracks open an egg to eat the yolk, and finds a fully-developed chick inside. The chick is not covered in any yolk or albumen, lending the scene a bizarre touch. We might make allowances for the guns that still fire bullets decades later, or for Crusoe's cavalier approach to rescuing the ship's cat, which he simply hurls onto the beach. Crusoe's insistence on stamping on the rats that he carries onto the island might also be seen as the revulsion many feel towards vermin. What are we to make of the cat's immaculate conception however? Without any tomcat, she gives birth to a litter that later run wild on the island. Did this really happen, or did Crusoe imagine it? Other scenes are more consciously dream-like and reflect Crusoe's disturbed mind. Unlike in Buñuel's mature films, where there is no clear borderline between dreams and reality, Crusoe's hallucinations are delineated by a screen that blurs around the edges. Early on Crusoe dreams about his father. We may see this as reflecting Crusoe's guilt about going to sea against his father's wishes. This would explain why his father insists that God will not forgive him. But why is his father washing a pig? Or lying drowned in the water? In any case, I cannot believe Buñuel is not secretly amused by the idea of Crusoe's dream-father telling him, "You will die like a dog!" When Crusoe arrives on the island, he is clean-shaven and wears normal clothes. Over time his clothes become a weird patchwork of animal furs, and his beard grows longer, reflecting his increasingly eccentric behaviour. "I managed to master everything on the island – except myself," Crusoe observes. Ultimately Crusoe is saved from insanity by his friendship with Friday. From this point onwards, the more surreal touches disappear from the story, as Crusoe finally has companionship. Nonetheless the relationship between Crusoe and Friday carries a subtle critique of colonialism, racism and the class system of the time. At the beginning of the story, Crusoe explains that he was on his way to buy Negro slaves when he was shipwrecked. Buñuel often undermines his hero by including quotations from Defoe's book that other film-makers would probably leave out. Viewers will also raise their eyebrows when they consider Crusoe's behaviour toward Friday after he rescues the native. As Friday does not appear to have a name, Crusoe assigns him a suitably western one, naming him after the day of the week on which they meet. Crusoe gestures to Friday to indicate that this is his name. Then he gestures to himself. How will Crusoe like to be known? Robinson? Robin? Crusoe? No. He wishes for Friday to call him ‘Master', thereby betraying the gulf between the two men. As a result Crusoe's claim that the two men will be friends sounds hollow. While Crusoe is glad to have someone to assist him, he also comments on how good it is to have a servant again. Nonetheless Friday came from one of the cannibal tribes, and it is a long time before Crusoe trusts his new servant. Friday is not allowed to handle anything that could be used as a weapon. Crusoe uses his musket to threaten Friday. One night Crusoe uses the manacles that he had intended for his trade in slaves to tie Friday down for his own safety. We are reminded that if Crusoe had had his way, he would have been transporting men like Friday to America. On the surface Buñuel does not appear to challenge Crusoe's Christianity, but as ever there is a sneaking subversiveness in his approach to the subject matter. As the years go by and Crusoe becomes isolated, religion becomes less of a comfort to him. Crusoe maintains his piety by the futile habit of marking off each day so that he can observe the Sabbath. However the Bible becomes increasingly neglected. When Crusoe hallucinates about his father, the patriarch is quick to tell him that God has abandoned him. Later Crusoe shouts out religious platitudes, but the only answer he gets is the sound of his own echo. His world is hollow, and he is his own god. At one point Crusoe plays god, and feeds a bug to its predator just for his own pleasure. The presence of Friday restores Crusoe's faith, and yet it is mankind and not God that saves Crusoe. In one amusing scene which Buñuel took from the book (if memory serves), Crusoe's attempt to teach Friday about God and Satan only ends in perplexity for both men. Buñuel's fascination with fetishism is less in evidence in Robinson Crusoe, but he finds time for one or two hints. When Crusoe makes a scarecrow to protect his crops, he drapes a woman's dress around it. For a moment, he looks longingly at the female dress, and strokes the hem, reminding us that he has been without a woman for a long time. However Crusoe is none too happy when Friday puts on an outfit that looks like a woman's dress and waves a sword around. The good Christian is offended by his companion's innocent cross-dressing. Buñuel's film version of Robinson Crusoe occupies a low place in the list of renowned movies by the great auteur. Nonetheless this uncharacteristic story is one that deserves more acclaim that it is usually given. I wrote a longer appreciation of Robinson Crusoe on my blog page if you would like to read more: Rated 5 out of 5 stars 09/05/23 Full Review steve d Weak adaption of forgettable story. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review ashley h Robinson Crusoe is a fantastic film. It is about a man who is dragged to a desert island after a shipwreck. Dan O'Herlihy and Jaime Fernandez give terrific performances. The screenplay is good but a little slow in places. Luis Bunuel did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this movie because of the adventure and drama. Robinson Crusoe is a must see. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Robinson Crusoe

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Synopsis When he is shipwrecked on a deserted island, aristocratic adventurer Robinson Crusoe (Dan O'Herlihy) must find a way to survive using only a few salvaged supplies and weapons. He also rescues a dog and a cat, who keep him company, but loneliness soon overwhelms him -- as does fear, when he notices that there are cannibals on the island. However, when he rescues one of the cannibals' prospective victims, he gains a new friend, Friday (Jaime Fernández).
Luis Buñuel
Oscar Dancigers, Henry F. Ehrlich
United Artists
Production Co
Oscar Dancigers Production
Original Language
Release Date (Theaters)
Aug 5, 1954, Original
Release Date (Streaming)
Aug 25, 2018
1h 30m