Thursday, December 22, 2011

Top Ten : Famous Ships from Hollywood Part I


There is something to be said about a good aquatic voyage.  A man can learn a lot about who he is during such a journey.  The sailor life, the seven seas, a simple case of nautical nuance.  That is what boating is really about.  The freedom to be one with nature and to do so surrounded by boundless blue.  Hollywood has a sweet spot for such visual aesthetics.  The camera crashing in on a sweeping overhead angle as a hard wood pirate ship plows through a wake of water.  We all have our favorite films about the open ocean and in each of these films, there is one key character that never says a word.  The ship.  In honor of these inanimate watercraft vessels, we've picked our favorite ten ships throughout the history of cinema.

Here is our pick for 10-6:

10. The Belafonte; Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

We know many of you will not know this beat up, past-her-prime boat, but The Belafonte was the pride and joy of Bill Murray's manic, sometimes stoned Captain Steve Zissou in Wes Anderson's Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou.  The reason we ranked this vessel over such other selections as that ship from Perfect Storm (Andrea Gail) is because of it's imperfection and how that played on the tone of the film.  Here is a ship that should have been retired for a decade, where the power constantly shorted out and all the equipment was thirty years out dated, but still kept cutting through the waves.  It was an extension of it's Captain, who has found himself in a rut emotionally and over-the-hill professionally.  As disheveled and archaic as Murray was, The Belafonte was his mirror image.  Let's not forget the crazy eyed shootout between Captain Zissou and his infinitely loaded pistol and a boat of Filipino pirates with AKs and machetes.  The Belafonte is a darling vessel with a crew of misfit all wearing matching red knitted caps and powder blue short shorts. It's our choice for number 10.

9.  The Poseidon; Poseidon Adventure

We want to forget Kurt Russel's remake of the Gene Hackman classic, The Poseidon Adventure, because frankly it was an unnecessary reinterpretation for the age of smash mouth cinema (big budgets and short worded scripts).  Instead, let's focus on the 1972 version.  How could we not see what was bound to happen with the SS Poseidon, an old cruise liner on it's last voyage before retiring forever in a scrapyard?  The film worked well as an inspiration for James Cameron's Titanic while boasting an amazing cast during the golden age of the 70's.  It's The Towering Inferno in the middle of the ocean and it added new meaning to the phrase, "abandon ship."  The thing that stuck was how the characters came from different walks, brought together by their trip to New York City, but forced to rely on one another to survive.  Plus, the SS Poseidon has one of the most killer names a ship could possibly have (God of the Sea, anyone?).

8.  The Red October; The Hunt For Red October 

The Hunt For Red October was an extremely red movie to say the least.  Most will remember the movie as the first film to portray the famous Jack Ryan character from the Tom Clancy novels.  With Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery at the helm, Red October was a fantastic film with a strong plot.  The Red October, an undetectable submarine captained by James Bond himself, made for an amazingly suspenseful film.  No one really knew what was going to happen (that didn't read the novel) and that made it one of the best novel to film adaptions ever.  Red October is our number 8.

7.  Nautilus; 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

Red October may be the quietest submarine under the surface of the sea, but only one sub has the cajones to battle a giant killer squid.  That's the Nautilus and it is our pick for number 7.  The most advanced piece of underwater equipment ever made, the Nautilus was home to one of the most decisive and famed captains of all time; Captain Nemo.  Jules Verne never wrote a more complex character.  Nemo was stern and composed on the outside, but filled with a vengeful fury within.  While Captain Nemo has been portrayed in several adaptions and films, the original 1954 Disney film was the first true fantasy film in our book.  It had the right amount of colors and excitement, mixed in with great acting from Kurt Douglas and James Mason.  It also is the primary source for a strange phenomenon known as Steampunk (steam based sub-genre of sci-fi).  The Nautilus has stood as one of the defining ships in cinema for almost sixty years.

6.  Orca; Jaws

When people think about the ocean, they often associate it with sharks.  When people think of sharks, they think about one shark that had a taste for human blood...Jaws!  Jaws, the 1975 blockbuster hit directed by the ever eternal Steven Spielberg, changed a great many things.  It changed how a thriller film represented itself (with building tension, false alarms and close calls), but more than that, it changed how we looked at sharks forever.  What was so great about Jaws, besides the direction and the amazing acting from Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw and Roy Scheider, is how aware and unsuspecting Jaws was.  One minute you could be splashing about treading water and the next, you're swallowing screams underwater while the mad killer shark sucks you down into the depths and gobbles you up.  In that film, The Orca was Robert Shaw's small fishing boat that they used to face-off against Jaws when the time came.  We love the screen time this boat got, because every scene with it was either a humanized conversation that carried weight or a carnivorous battle between man and toothy beast.  When the three heroes salted the water around the Orca with chum and they watched as Jaws' fin circled around them, it was truly heart arresting.  Of course, Jaws had to ruin everything by flopping onto the deck and sinking The Orca, but no one could deny the sick enjoyment that came as Brody tossed the scuba tank into Jaws' mouth and blew him to bits with a keen shot from a rifle.  The Orca is easily our number 6.

That's it for now.  Check in with us later this week when we will bring you the top five!

Tyler Baker; OSM Writer

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