Krakatoa: East of Java

Year: 1969
Production Co: Cinerama Productions Corp
Director: Bernard L Kowalski
Writer: Clifford Newton Gould, Bernard Gordon
Cast: Maximilian Schell, Brian Keith, Diane Baker

I expected a dog of epic proportions and while it was melodramatic, I found myself adequately entertained as well as impressed with the special effects considering its age and the courage of the filmmakers to tackle a topic that could be only be rendered using miniatures and superimposed footage.

I think most people would assume the worst simply because of the hilariously inaccurate name, Krakatoa of course being west of Java. To be fair, the script was based on a book with the same geographically incorrect title, and in 1969, who among the moviegoing audiences of America and Europe would be bothered or even know how to check such a fact over the other side of the world?

Maximillian Schell, known to most Gen Xers as Reinhardt from Disney's The Black Hole (and would you believe he's still around, working as regularly as ever?) is in steel-jawed Heston mode as ship's captain Chris, on the trail of buried treasure belonging to his lover's ex husband.

After collecting a rogue's gallery of accomplices with different skills that will aid in the recovery, the Batavia Queen sets off into the Sunda Strait in August 1883. If you don't know history or didn't check the title of the film you might not know, but around that time the mile-long island was vaporised in the culmination of a month-long eruption, and the treasure hunters are set to sail right into the middle of it.

The cinematography is great for the period and the characterisations and plot no less hokey than any other Hollywood disaster movie from the tail end of the golden era.

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