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Cutthroat Island (1995)

NOTE: This commentary is only available on the Blu-ray edition of the movie.

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director Renny Harlin Rating:7.0/10 (3 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by iwantmytvm on August 17th, 2020:Find all reviews by iwantmytvm
Harlin always provides an enthusiastic commentary. He acknowledges the economics, that this film was a financial failure domestically. However, he reasons that this film was cheaper than most, and notes that they spent money carefully, with no wasted cent. All expenses can be seen on screen to include the detonations of sets they built. The film has earned back some funds overseas, and on home media. He remains wistful that the film was not more successful as so many people worked diligently and put much care into costumes, production design, stunt work, and the epic score by John Debney. The production of the film was problematic from the outset, requiring the last minute recast of one of the principal actors, finishing the script during the shoot, and the director of photography breaking his ankle necessitating his replacement. He believes that the buzz about these problems was setting up this film to fail. Also, the studio put very little effort into its marketing. He feels this film was ahead of its time in featuring a heroine in the leading role.

They filmed in Malta and Thailand. Malta offered the architecture they needed, as well as the largest water tanks in the world at that time, needed for the oceanic filming of storms and motion. Mexico now has largest water tanks. The prison in Malta featured in Midnight Express was also used in this film. The interiors of the ships were filmed in Malta, with the static ocean exteriors were filmed in Thailand months later. One challenge of the continuity was preventing the actors from becoming too tan for the scenes to match. It was extremely hot in Thailand. Some of the other perils they endured in Thailand were jellyfish, bats and the drastic difference in depths between high and low tide. Thailand also came with logistical problems; due to the remote locations, it was challenging to transport cast, crew and equipment. They filmed on the island that would later be used in the Danny Boyle film, The Beach.

Much of the practical effects used in the storms and for the nautical scenes could have been achieved much easier a few years later via CGI. As it was, they resorted to some visual trickery, by redressing a single ship to become two when they filmed in Thailand, away from the tanks in Malta.

Harlin felt that they owed it to audience to satisfy all of the expectations by honoring the requisite tropes of the pirate genre. There is a balance to achieving a realistic action film while also maintaining a safe working environment. They had to rework the leather boots created for the costumes, as the first iterations filled with water and dangerously weighed down the actors. They were also very careful when using the cannons in the ship battle.

He points out the cameo of the Finnish flag, one of his trademark inclusions, as well as his own brief appearance in the film. He explains the difference between stalactites and stalagmites and his mnemonic to differentiate the term.