Revisiting “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson, and film versions
To the best of my recollection, it was sometime in late elementary school, and I was in a children’s theater production of the show in junior high, by which time I’d read it so.. maybe 5th grade?
Regardless, I’ve always clung tight to the memory of Jim Hawkins, Long John Silver, and the rest of the crew of the Hispaniola.
Recently it dawned on me that though this book was sitting on my bookcase, it had been years since I’d read it, so I picked it up again. It’s still an easy read of a classic, with lively characters and a jaunty pirate-tastic adventure, and I still enjoy it.
This is one of those books that makes me feel as if I’m visiting old friends when I re-read it.
It’s also a book that seems made to be a movie, with it’s battle between good guys and bad guys and wonderful settings.
If you care, in my humble opinion, the best two film adaptations of “Treasure Island” were both done by Disney.
First, there’s the 1950 live-action movie version (which was interestingly Disney’s first fully live-action film) starring Robert Newton as Long John Silver. This movie has all the gloss and style of the classic Disney films, with super-high production value and an amazing cast. In addition, it’s really faithful to the novel.
[File this next part under “things I learned from Wikipedia” — Robert Newton banked his role as Long John Silver for a few years, playing Long John again in a 1954 sequel, as well as a 1955 26-episode TV series. (You can thank wikipedia for these next factoids —) Also along the lines of wonderful trivia, Robert Newton is also considered the patron saint of International Talk like a Pirate day (9/19) and is generally considered to be responsible for the popular “pirate voice.”]
The second film adaptation of “Treasure Island” that I hold close to my heart is actually the 2002 Disney animated feature “Treasure Planet.” Though there are notable changes from the original novel, like it’s set in space and there’s a female captain, it’s a fun movie and would be a great introduction to the book for younger folks. (That’s the future teacher in me talking.)
There’s also a Christian Bale version, but honestly I can’t remember that one, if that says anything.
Anyway, I’ll stop rambling about “Treasure Island” now. We all have those books that, though you’re done with them, never really leave you.