Robinson Crusoe, the novel by Daniel Defoe, was first published just short of 300 years ago. That it has survived for three centuries tells the world that it is one of the great classics. Its full title is The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pyrates. What that tells us is that the language in which it is told is somewhat dated. I was accordingly delighted to find out that a children’s movie was being made of this wonderful tale. (I have read it only in child-friendly versions and seen, of course, the pantomimes based on this wonderful story.)
How disappointed I was to preview the 2016 movie, Robinson Crusoe. In North America, the marketing was more honest and it was released as The Wild Life. Either way it is a 2016 Belgian-French 3D computer animated movie for children. Directed by Vincent Kesteloot and Ben Stassen, the adaptation was written by Lee Christopher, Domonic Paris and Graham Weldon.
The original story is often credited with being the first realistic fiction. It tells a tale of a man who spends thirty years on a remote tropical island believed to be near Trinidad. He encounterd cannibals, captives and pirates before being returned to his native shores. It is a story of danger, survival and superhuman will and spirit. The movie waters it down and has the animals as the heroes (and villains) of the piece. Inaccurate and cute. It doesn’t make me want to read the book. It doesn’t uplift my soul. It is not going to help me survive life (or the school bully, which is much the same thing). It simply has no redemptive value. I’m not sure why anyone bothered to make it.
So, if you want cute, see Robinson Crusoe (if your children are under four years old). Now animated movies for children are often loved by adults. This one is unlikely to be enjoyed by any adults. If you want uplifting, inspiring, educational entertainment for children four years old and older, let the children spend the time making tents with some sheets and the dining room chairs. It will be far more authentic than this movie version of Robinson Crusoe (2016). The time will be better spent, and the money saved can be used to see something else.
The mangy cats portrayed as the evil characters probably won’t endear the movie to any cat lovers either.
I give this a very mediocre 4/10. It is a very generous figure for a tedious movie.