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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mosquito Coast.(released in 1986) - starring Harrison Ford, the story of the great dream of a driven inventor

This movie is adapted from the classic by Paul Theroux. Directed by Peter Weir, it stars Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren and River Phoenix in the title roles. Harrison Ford plays the role of Allie Fox, a genius inventor who gets tired of the the crass commercialism pervading the American Society. He dreams about an ideal world where men live in harmony with what they need and not what they want. Allie abhors the materialism and the schizophrenic pace of the society and says "We eat when we're not hungry, drink when we're not thirsty. We buy what we don't need and throw away everything that's useful. Why sell a man what he wants? Sell him what he doesn't need. Pretend he's got eight legs and two stomachs and money to burn. It's wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong."
To escape from this material world Fox uproots himself and his family, of six from rural Massachusetts to a remote island La Moskitia in south America. Here his wife and 2 sons and twin daughters follow him and his ideals. Initially everything is hunky dory with fox finding the peace of mind to pursue his inventions and trying to better the natives lives. Soon with absolute dreams comes absolute and painful reality. The plan to civilize the natives is also a kind of intervention which is not a natural course of events.

The movie is narrated through the eyes of the eldest son, Charlie who completely admires his father's genius. His love and admiration is mixed and what has the upper hand is evident only at the end of the movie. Mother Fox, Allie's wife is a dutiful spouse following the marriage vows to the end. She moves herself from the comfort of their home to come to a remote clearing Jeronimo to play house and puts up with the ravings of her husbands flawed genius.
Allie on the high for bettering the plight of the natives plans to build a giant ice machine which uses fuel to make ice instantly. His need to awe makes him go to the interiors of the jungle to show off his machine. On his way he meets some dangerous ruffians who follow him back to Jeronimo and set fire to his inventions. As everything goes in to smoke Allie's descent in to chaos happens. In his madness he destroys his family, relationships and a fragile system he tried to nurture. At the very tragic end the movie poses some important questions about his despotic nature and the effect of it on his relationships.
The movie also has amazing philosophical moments when Allie spars with the preacher Spellgood whose fanaticism puts him off. But in the end Allie's contention that progress brings about civilization is as flawed as Spellgood's theory of religion uplifting man. One man's desire to shock, awe and better the natives to ultimately achieve glory and splendor falls flat on the ground. In the end Allie did bring in what he had fled in America, a search for material things and thats is his downfall.
Splendid performances by Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren is the highlight of the movie. This movie failed miserably at the box office but I still recommend it as a must see. It is a thinking man's movie and go with a philosophical frame of mind.

Mosquito Coast.(released in 1986) - starring Harrison Ford, the story of the great dream of a driven inventor

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