Victory (Mark Peploe, 1996) Willem Dafoe, Irène Jacob, Sam Neill
The film is better, lol.
I was struggling through the pages of Conrad's novel as he gradually reveals his story with delicacy, when it occurred to me to see if it had been filmed. Discovering that not only was Bill 'Willem' Dafoe involved but also Sam 'ANZ' Neill, I actually signed up with the hated enemy Microsoft (da other foe) to rent a viewing from their video agency.
Bonzer picture! Loads of misogyny and racism and other unacceptable practices, including homosexuality (it was then) and murder.
The screenplay is cut to the bone - or at least the flesh, in the case of the lovely female lead - and so Conrad is left out. He has, however, before leaving, provided a ripping scenario, which the filmmakers thoroughly enjoy filling out visually in this tropical orientalist (another failing) tale.
Axel Heyst lives on a secluded island near the Dutch East Indies port of Surabaya. The year is 1913. While on personal business to the port, he visits the hotel owned by racist German Schomberg. An all-woman orchestra plays in the hotel each night, and orchestra owner, San Giacomo agrees to "sell" one of the girls, Alma, to Schomberg. She asks Heyst to save her from the villains and they escape to his island and live there with native servant Wang. Schomberg points sinister Mr Jones and his two fellow bandits to that island, saying that the fortune lies ahead of them there.
Through a business misadventure, the European Axel Heyst (Willem Dafoe) ends up living on an island in what is now Indonesia with a Chinese assistant Wang (Ho Li). Heyst visits a nearby island where a female band is playing at a hotel owned by Mr. Schomberg. Schomberg attempts to force himself sexually on one of the band members, Alma (Irène Jacob). Alma is about to be sold to Schomberg by the corrupt leader/director of the band who has enslaved the women for prostitution. She begs Heyst to help her. Having sworn off close relationships because of his past, he is challenged by her request, but agrees to help her. He escapes from the island with Alma, and they go back to his island and eventually become lovers. Schomberg seeks revenge by attempting to frame Heyst for the "murder" of a man who had died of natural causes and later by sending three desperadoes Pedro, Martin Ricardo (Rufus Sewell), and Mr. Jones (Sam Neill) to Heyst's island with a lie about treasure hidden on the island. Upon their arrival at the island, much intrigue ensues. In a climactic scene, Jones kills Pedro and then Ricardo; Alma is also shot and dies in the arms of Axel. After burning his compound and burying Alma, Axel disappears from the island but is rumored to have later been seen as a drifter in San Francisco and other ports of call. Alma's victory, in death, is having saved Axel's life in that he has again made connections with others.
Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 31 October, 20 | Now: 1 November, 2021