How Treasure Planet veered off course with a change to Long John Silver

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Every major studio has movies that were box office disasters among their titles, only to find new life years later. Disney has its share. Pinocchio and Fancy both lost money before becoming timeless classics. Before being a 90s cult movie and a hit musical, News was a bomb. And it’s perhaps inevitable that the studio most associated with animation will hold the record for the most expensive traditional animated feature – and one of the biggest flops in movie history.

treasure planet earned just $37 million on its initial release against a budget of $140 million (plus millions more in marketing), a performance so poor it hurt Disney’s stock value. Yet even during its inauspicious theatrical run, the film garnered respectable reviews and a slew of award nominations. Home video spread the good word of treasure planetas it has for so many initially unsuccessful films, and it currently enjoys an enthusiastic cult following despite Disney’s determined lack of interest in making anything of it.

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the treasure planet sect is the one I wish I could join. The idea of ​​putting the classic swashbuckling adventure among the stars was a longtime passion project for the writers/directors Ron Clements and John Musker, and the passion is evident on screen. For the construction of the world, the film is a faultless one. The sci-fi element could so easily have resulted in a cold, high-tech environment that we’ve all seen a million times, but a 70/30 ratio for traditional animation versus CG animation has been carried forward in the balance between treasure islandthe 18th century frame and all the futuristic tune-ups. Rarely has outer space seemed as rich, warm or ancient as here. Putting humans, cyborgs, and aliens side-by-side is more standard sci-fi fare, but Pirates is a delightfully sinister collection of intergalactic ne’er-do-wells. The music is magnificent, the staging of the RLS Legacy the travel and action sets are top-notch, and treasure planet is one of the best blends of 2D and 3D animation to date.



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And yet – it doesn’t work, as a film or as an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevensonis the novel. The change of scenery has nothing to do with it. What tweaks were needed to the plot to allow for the marriage of desert island romance and interstellar adventure are expertly made, and I’d say the title treasure is even more impressive when it’s done the spoils of a thousand worlds instead of around £700,000. It’s the changes unrelated to the setting that make the difference.

Martin runsDisney’s BEN-JAMIN is among Disney’s less successful efforts to cast a comedian as a sidekick. The dog-and-cat romance between Dr. Doppler and Captain Amelia always seemed too pat, there only to have a romance. Jim Hawkins’ transformation from a quiet boy who finds wit and courage on the journey to a surly teenager indulging in early 2000s teenage clichés goes against the very idea of ​​adventure. of a young boy, and he was a writer of change Terry Rossio later judged to be the film’s fatal mistake.


But the biggest change for me, the one that costs treasure planet most is what he does to that legendary buccaneer Long John Silver. Transformed from a one-legged man to an alien cyborg, he is the film’s most colorful character, just as he is in the novel. Glen Keane yielded one of his many masterpieces in character animation with Silver, enhanced to remarkable effect by CGI cybernetics. Brian Murray gave his all in his vocal performance. His Silver is loud, charismatic and always the most important voice in the room. His size, vaguely urchin features, and avuncular personality make him easy to love.


Hawkins and Silver

With the exception of the robot bits, that’s all true for Silver in treasure island also. Jim, Squire Trelawney, and the reader are all won over by her charm (and, for the characters in the book, her good food). Jim in particular bonds with Silver, who acts as a strong mentor to him. That’s why the revelation that Silver is a pirate, leader of a plan to seize the treasure and murder the entire crew, is so profound. This is one of the main conflicts of the novel: the dichotomy between Silver’s genuine charm, intelligence, and charisma with the reality of who he is. And who he is, he’s a villain, the book villain.


Silver may have more sense and tact than his fellow pirates, he can keep a wife and well-managed financial assets, he may be easy to love and have a real soft spot for Jim Hawkins, but he’s a ruthless opportunist. at heart and a very serious danger to Jim and the rest of the crew of the Hispaniola. Realizing the truth about Silver is essential to the majority of Jim in treasure islandand while he retains enough sympathy for the thief to wish him some material comfort in memory, he does not forget Silver’s wicked nature.

treasure planet removes almost all of that. Son Silver is still a pirate, still the leader of an intentional mutiny, but he’s been slowing down almost from the start. He cut such a lovable figure – and the rest of the pirates are so macabre in comparison, especially the original character Scroop who some of Silver’s worst deeds are outsourced to – that it’s hard to believe he could be their leader. It was a struggle for Stevenson’s Silver to keep the hackers in line, sure, but there was no doubt he had enough violence and grit to challenge them.


Worse is the change in Silver’s relationship with Hawkins. treasure planet Jim suffers from abandonment issues, and the friendship between him and Silver from the novel is transformed into a type of father-son bond in the film. Silver is packed with nautical-themed talk to inspire Jim to strive for greatness by showing him the ropes of sailing. It is Silver’s influence more than anything else that makes Jim a responsible man. Silver redeems himself when he gives up the treasure to save Jim’s life and even gives up the small loot he managed to collect for him.


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Picture via Disney

This version of Jim and Silver’s relationship has its fans, and I won’t deny that it creates a very safe and warm heart in the film. But I’m afraid that’s what’s wrong. On the one hand, it’s so safe because it’s so predictable; from their first scene together, you can guess what all the major beats in Jim and Silver’s relationship will be and when they’ll happen in the movie. As endearing as their scenes together at the beginning and end of the film may be, the extent to which Silver influences Jim also detracts from the film’s notion of his teenage portrayal of Jim Hawkins learning to chart his own course. Silver’s lessons and his own personal assistance are such a necessary component of Jim’s actions that their period of estrangement in the middle of the story feels more like an odious detour of misunderstanding in their relationship than the consequence of a serious betrayal.


But the biggest problem is what this relationship costs treasure planet in the journey from book to film. The novel’s main source of menace and ambiguity became the film’s main source of sentimentality without any additional changes to remedy the loss of the old element. There is never any real sense of danger in treasure planet where Jim is concerned because he and Silver are so bonded. Past adaptations of treasure islandincluding waltz disneyThe 1950’s own production, featured a movie-exclusive moment where Silver threatened to kill Jim and was unable to do so – but this came at the end of the story, after Jim had withstood all the tests thrown at the betrayal and Silver’s deception, and he was not associated with a redemption arc that removes Jim’s ultimate ambivalence towards his mentor and enemy.

Adventures can be sentimental, of course. I like a lot of that kind. And treasure planet is not the first adaptation of a book to drastically alter themes and relationships. The question is whether the change is of comparable quality, and I’ve never been able to see that in treasure planet Money. Stevenson’s pirate dichotomy is one of Treasure Island most appealing to readers. It’s a bigger challenge, especially for kids, to deal with a character who can be so charming and yet so deadly, and it’s a bigger challenge to leave Jim with mixed feelings about Silver and of his adventure. treasure planet Silver is cuddly and comforting, but there’s no defiance, no ambiguity about him or the impact of the trip on Jim to pose to an audience.


This may or may not have had an impact on the film’s box office performance; you never know exactly what elements make or break an image. But it has an impact on treasure planet ability as a story to respond to the potential of its concept.


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