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The Poseidon Adventure

The Poseidon Adventure

By Patrick Samuel • December 31st, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
20th Century Fox

Original release: December 12th, 1972
Running time: 117 minutes

Director: Ronald Neame
Writer: Paul Gallico
Composer: John Williams

Cast: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Roddy McDowall, Red Buttons, Jack Albertson, Carol Lynley, Pamela Sue Martin, Leslie Nielsen, Arthur O’Connell, Eric Shea, Stella Stevens

The Poseidon Adventure

December 31st usually finds me at home, warm and under a blanket, sometimes watching television, but most times fast asleep by the time midnight arrives. On a couple of occasions during my formative years I did go out, for example the night we cheered the arrival of a new millennium and the year after that, but these nights are filled with so much expectation that it’s usually a recipe for disaster. Either someone will drink too much, there’ll be a big fight, getting home will be more stress than anything else and by the next morning when you wake with a hangover from Hell you realise you spent four times more than if you’d just stayed in. And you can’t remember half of what happened – just as well.

Despite my misgivings about New Years Eve, I can’t really complain that much about my experiences. They’re nowhere near as bad as those of the passengers on board the doomed luxury liner SS Poseidon. Featuring an ensemble cast that included Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Roddy McDowall and Leslie Nielsen, The Poseidon Adventure was the disaster movie to end them all; a film that had it all with memorable characters, action, adventure and heart-tugging moments of tragedy.

Sailing at full speed on her final voyage from New York City to Athens before being sent to the scrapyard, Captain Harrison (Leslie Nielsen) is worried about the Poseidon’s safety, but he’s paid no attention to. We then meet many of the passengers including Reverend Frank Scott (Gene Hackman) who’s having a crisis of faith, Belle (Shelley Winters) and her husband who are going to Israel to see their grandson for the first time, and Susan (Pamela Sue Martin) and her younger brother Robin (Eric Shea) who are travelling to meet their parents.

The Poseidon Adventure

However, their plans are all about to be disrupted. During the New Years Eve celebrations in the ship’s enormous dining room, an undersea earthquake triggers a tsunami that comes heading their way at 60 mph. The captain issues a mayday and tries to turn the ship around but there’s no escape. As the wave hits, the Poseidon’s knocked to its side and capsizes. With everything turned upside down, the devastation is unfathomable as the passengers scramble to reach anything they can hold onto, but many of the either plummet to their deaths, are drowned or die in the ensuing explosions.

Those who survive the initial impact are of course Reverend Scott, Belle, her husband, Susan and Robin. Along with New York Police Officer Mike Rogo (Ernest Borgnine), his wife Linda (Stella Stevens) and few others, they all try to make their way “upwards” to the ship’s hull. They’ve been told the hull near the propeller shaft is only one inch thick, so if they can break through it, they have a chance of being rescue before the Poseidon starts to sink. They follow Reverend Scott, using the giant Christmas tree in the dining room as a ladder but he’s unsuccessful in trying to The Poseidon Adventureconvince more people to join them. As they climb to the galley there’s a series of explosions and as water floods the dining room, those left behind try to climb up the Christmas tree, but the weight brings the whole thing crashing down – trapping them and sealing their fate.

Continuing onwards, but it doesn’t get any easier from them – why should it? The Poseidon Adventure is all about survival and placing these characters in situations where they have to choose if to go on or if to avoid the risks and stay put. Those who chose not to follow Reverend Scott and to stay put met a painful end, but the choice was theirs. Later on we see Belle making a choice that will have grave consequences for her and her husband, as well as Scott but, again, the choice was hers and life must go on despite the sacrifices that are made and the tragedies that follow them.

With the Reverend believing God helps those who help themselves, The Poseidon Adventure makes for pretty bleak viewing, but at the same there’s a kind of truth to that sentiment. Faced with any kind of situation, what good can come from doing nothing but waiting to be saved? Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t and the film presents us with a variety of such outcomes while also serving up an entertaining epic that still looks great even after forty years.

The Poseidon Adventure

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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