“Krakatoa East of Java” (1969)
Seldom have adventure films sunk from their own surfeit of narrative ballast as dramatically as Bernard L. Kowalski’s “Krakatoa East of Java”, a film that juggles so many storylines- ensuring that none will see the light of full coherence -that the eponymous volcano is relegated to the lowly status of an afterthought until all hell necessarily breaks loose in the final reels.
The film follows an event-filled voyage of the steamer Batavia Queen from its port located on the coast of West Java (the title of the film famously misdirects the location of Krakatoa in proximity to Java, yet this trivial amusement has little to do with evaluating the substance of the production) to offshore the volcanic Krakatoa, primarily in search of a sunken cache of pearls, but also to administer psychic healing to the more-than-slightly unhinged love interest of the ship’s Captain Chris Hanson (Maximilian Schell), Laura Travis (Diane Baker). From such melodramatically eruptive personal relationships are born highly suspect, exotically located adventure films, especially when all of the purely soap opera elements are churning just out of reach of the destination volcanic island which is doing its best to discourage all interlopers with continuous warning signs of pending catastrophic volatility; warning signs that will be, needless to say, ignored due to the demands of the disaster film which regularly necessitates behavior so uncannily ill-considered that such persons would be declared mentally incompetent in a real-world court of law.
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