Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Island

Author of the blog tells/writes mostly about what is not so generally known as the modern day international pop-culture events and people, which Author dislikes, especially the modern day Russian ones.
The Russian-Lithuanian movie, released in 1971, is my favorite screen version of the book Treasure Island (1883) by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). Could I forget the main character Jim Hawkins? The blond blue-eyed boy with his golden skin and natural pony-tail, which long hair would be a usual hairstyle among the comely blue-eyed blond youths of the Baltic republics, soon after 1971. In 1971, other imaginative movie was realized, Death in Venice. Two movies in 1971. Two seashores. Two beautiful blond boys. Two screen versions. Two books by European classic writers. Coincidence? Personally I don’t believe in coincidences.
Could I forget the delightful soundtrack? The music with the distinct Celtic motif (note: it was in 1971, Evil empire) is in harmony with some screen shots and mood of the movie so much that it gives a perfect poetic wholeness which makes the movie a kind of a precious cameo, a “Stevensonian cameo”, if you like. The music makes feel yearning for traveling and evokes two mottos in my mind: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” (Alfred Tennyson, 1809-1892) and “In spite of everything”. In the video, I use only three melodies from the movie and all the pictures which I could find on the Net. Unfortunately, not all of the pictures are large enough to look very well in my video. In the movie, Jim looks so nice when walking with the tray in hands as the ship’s boy on board of the Hispaniola at the hour when he brings the morning meal to the Captain’s table. Wearing the bandana, with his golden locks covered, he looks manlier yet so seductive anyway. How sexy he looks when his white shirt has got dirty and torn in the course of the venture and fighting, with the golden skin of his shoulders being visible in the tears/slits… I especially love the close-ups of Jim Hawkins with the adult personages of the book/movie: “three together Jim, Squire Trelawney and Dr Livesey”, “Jim and Long John Silver”, “Jim and Ben Gunn”. When this last man caught Jim suddenly in the shrubbery of the island, the boy floundered so nicely in the man’s arms that it looked like a most alluring scene in the movie, which in fact has more than one ambiguous and seductive mise-en-scène with the boy, quite subtle to be understandable to some initiated aesthetes only, at those times as well as nowadays. Long John Silver, “owner of The Spy-glass tavern and a former sea cook”, is played by one of the most renowned and oldest cinema-actors of Soviet Russia, and his fiendish personage is now nostalgically called “most charming John Silver ever”, and I love the man’s look and voice too, though I believe John Silver’s age should be a little bit younger. Other two oldest and most renowned Russian actors performed in the movie, and their roles in this movie proved to be their last cinema-performances.
Jim Hawkins is played by the boy of the name of Aare Laanemets (1954-2000) from Estonia, and his image was one of my first sex icons in my young heart, which icons were many, I have to say, and all of them were male, and he came to the Top--what wonder?--I could know neither of Björn Andrésen (b. 1955) nor of the movie Death in Venice nor of the book by Thomas Mann (1875-1955), at those times. Young Aare could become a new sex symbol of Russian cinematograph and pop-culture; after his impressive film debut, he could be a movie star or cast in roles for several interesting movies like the British actor John Moulder-Brown (b. 1953)--but sex symbols were not of use, to put it mildly, in the Soviet times. If an actor looked hot and sexy, he was used for performing roles of all sorts of class enemies, German SS officers and other fiendish characters, which was to indicate that any hotness, beautiful look and sex appeal were both wrong and of no importance in art and life, and which in some extraordinary way and quite subliminally worked in a different way forming/cultivating a strong addiction to fiendish men and class enemies in minds of some young girls and female viewers of Russia. Reading the boy’s surname “Laanemets”, so difficult to be pronounced and remembered, I thought he was a Lithuanian, because in the movie Treasure Island, two Lithuanian popular cinema-theatre-actors I could see beside him: “Squire Trelawney” and “Dr Livesey”; and after the show, however much I endeavoured, I could not find any additional info about the teenager actor, in the 1970s as well as later, when I saw the movie once again. Only at present, on the Net, I could do it, and now this is my tribute to the star boy, who is no more, and who left me much earlier than he died: first it was when I failed tracing him and forgot, and then when he had grown up becoming an adult man and talented actor working in theatres of Tallinn and Parnu and his adolescent beauty passed away forever, and this last fact was the only consolation for me at the moment when I learnt of his premature death.


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