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The Island of Dr. Moreau

Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Frankenheimer
Produced by Claire Rudnick Polstein
Edward R. Pressman
Tim Zinnemann
Written by H. G. Wells (novel)
Ron Hutchinson
Walon Green (screenplay)
Starring Marlon Brando
Val Kilmer
David Thewlis
Fairuza Balk
Ron Perlman
Music by Gary Chang
Cinematography William A. Fraker
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date(s) August 23, 1996 (US)
November 15, 1996 (UK)
Running time 100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $40 million (estimated)

The Island of Dr. Moreau is a 1996 film, the third major movie version of the H. G. Wells novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, a science fiction horror story about a scientist who attempts to convert animals into people. The film stars Marlon Brando, features Val Kilmer, Fairuza Balk, David Thewlis and Ron Perlman, and was directed by John Frankenheimer. The screenplay was written by Walon Green and Ron Hutchinson.

Contents

Synopsis

In the year 2010, Dr. Moreau has successfully conquered the impossible: to use human DNA in animals to make them more humanlike and regress their animal instincts and make the divine human, free of malice and hatred. After many attempts, only one experiment was successful and now the unsuccessful ones are given drugs every day to keep them from regressing into their animal forms. They are also controlled through shock therapy to keep them in order.

However, one of the creatures has found a way to stop himself from receiving shock treatment and when he informs others of this, the animal hybrids break loose on the island.

One of Dr. Moreau's allies is Dr. Montgomery, a physician gone mad with devotion to Moreau and intense drug abuse.

United Nations negotiator Edward Douglas, the sole survivor of an airplane crash, is brought ashore on Moreau's island — against his better judgement — by Dr. Montgomery, and eventually becomes his prisoner. Horrified by the doctor's monstrous experiments and fearing for his own life, Douglas seeks the help of Moreau's lovely daughter, Aissa, in escaping the island, but is foiled at every turn by Dr. Montgomery and his man-beast lackeys.

Cast

Actor Role
David Thewlis Edward Douglas
Fairuza Balk Aissa
Ron Perlman Sayer of the Law
Marlon Brando Dr. Moreau
Val Kilmer Dr. Montgomery
Marco Hofschneider M'Ling
Temuera Morrison Azazello
William Hootkins Kiril
Daniel Rigney The Hyena-Swine
Nelson de la Rosa Majai
Peter Elliott Assassimon
Mark Dacascos Lo-Mai

Director's Cut

Eventually, a director's cut was released on DVD containing four minutes of extra footage from the theatrical release. Some highlights:

  • An extended prologue. Douglas and the two men in the life raft fight over the last canteen of water as in the theatrical version, but with a more violent ending. It begins as usual. One man pulls out a knife and stabs another in the back. The wounded man pulls the knife out and stabs his attacker in the stomach. They continue to fight as Douglas threatens one man with a flare gun. He is unsuccessful, but the other two men are knocked overboard while a hungry shark bites into one of the men. The other man that escaped the shark appears out of the water to attack Douglas, but he bashes the man's skull in with one of the oars in the raft. The film continues as usual.
  • Dr. Moreau's death. His death lasts a bit longer and more graphic. Hyena eventually rips off his arm by the wrist.
  • Douglas shoots at Hyena. Following the previous extension, before Hyena runs off, he throws Moreau's arm down.
  • Azazello's implant removed. Azazello in the theatrical release says that he knows where there's more of "the fire that kills". This scene explains the blood spot on his left chest in the rest of the film. Hyena and his followers rip out Azazello's implant in his chest.
  • Montgomery's death. There is a more graphic shot indicating what really happened to Montgomery. He is shot in the chest. In the theatrical release, this is where the scene ends. In this extension, Hyena takes Azazello's gun and shoots Montgomery's dead body several more times.
  • Hyena's destruction of Dr. Moreau's office. There is a shot of Hyena shooting aimlessly in a circle at the walls of Moreau's office.
  • Hyena tortures Douglas. Although Hyena never physically tortures Douglas, he uses the implant shock treatment to psychologically torture him in the theatrical version. In this extension, several of Hyena's followers shoot innocent mutants on the ground to death, scaring and making him fear Hyena even more.

Production

Unfortunately for New Line the production was plagued with problems from the outset. The first sign of trouble appeared when Kilmer suddenly decided - for reasons of his own - that he wanted his role cut by 40%. The original director on the project, Richard Stanley, knew that it was impossible to cut the role of UN diplomat, Edward Prendick (later changed to Edward Douglas) by such a drastic amount, but he wanted to keep Kilmer onboard, so he hit on the idea of switching him to the role of Dr. Montgomery, Moreau's assistant on the island. Kilmer agreed to this proposal, so the part of Prendick was given to Rob Morrow.

The chosen location for the film were the steamy, tropical rainforests of North Queensland, Australia, but just three days into filming, New Line fired Stanley, (a move that was believed to have been influenced by Kilmer) and brought in veteran film director, John Frankenheimer. The reasons for Stanley's dismissal are not very clear, but it's been said that he wasn't a strong enough director (to cope with the notoriously difficult Kilmer) and that he didn't have his process very well thought out. Frankenheimer, like virtually every member of the cast and crew, came on board because he wanted the opportunity to work with Brando.

When Morrow also decided to leave the production, Frankenheimer needed to find a new lead actor and brought in David Thewlis to play Douglas. Frankenheimer's vision of the movie was very different from Stanley's, and he and Brando decided to rewrite the script with the help of scriptwriters, Walon Green and Ron Hutchinson. The whole production was shut down for one and a half weeks while these changes were implemented.[1]

Once shooting resumed, however, the problems did not dissipate. New pages were turned in only a few days before they were shot and the breakneck pace Hutchinson kept up didn't equal quality. Frankenheimer and Kilmer had an argument on-set, which reportedly got so heated, Frankenheimer stated afterwards, "I don't like Val Kilmer, I don't like his work ethic, and I don't want to be associated with him ever again".[2] Because of this, there were two famous phrases Frankenheimer was quoted as saying to the press in reference to Val Kilmer. The first was, "There are two things I will never ever do in my whole life. The first is that I will never climb Mt. Everest. The second is that I will never work with Val Kilmer ever again." The second, more tongue-in-cheek phrase was, "Will Rogers never met Val Kilmer." Frankenheimer also reportedly clashed with Brando and the studio, as they were concerned with the direction he was taking the film.

According to Thewlis, "we all had different ideas of where it should go. I even ended up improvising some of the main scenes with Marlon." Thewlis went on to rewrite his character personally. The constant rewrites also got to Brando's nerve and having no motivation to keep rehearsing new lines, he was equipped with a small radio receiver. Thewlis recollects: "[Marlon would] be in the middle of a scene and suddenly he'd be picking up police messages and would repeat, 'There's a robbery at Woolworths.'" Even Brando clashed with Kilmer who didn't make any new friends with his continuously erratic behavior. According to Film Threat magazine, Brando pointed out to him: "You're confusing your talents with the size of your paycheck".

Kilmer has stated that the time filming on-set was "crazy." He was served with divorce papers from his then-wife Joanne Whalley, Brando was dealing with the suicide of his daughter Cheyenne, as well as the implications of a French nuclear test near the atoll he owned.

After a joke Stanley reportedly told to the production designer of burning the set down, security was tightened in case of him actually trying to sabotage the project.[3] One rumor surfaced (promoted by Stanley)[4] that he did however manage to sneak back on the set in full costume as one of the many human-animal hybrids.[5] Another reports that he also showed up at the film's wrap party where he ran into Kilmer, who was said to have apologized profusely for Stanley's removal from the film.

Thewlis skipped the film's premiere by choice.

Reception

The film was met with bad reviews,[6] and grossed $49 million worldwide, only covering the $40 million budget.[7]

The Island of Dr. Moreau later got seven nominations for the Razzie Awards including Worst Picture, "winning" Worst Supporting Actor for Marlon Brando (Val Kilmer was also a nominee in this category). The film also got nominations for two Saturn Awards: Best Make-Up and Science Fiction Film.

See also

The two earlier versions of the story:

Notes

  1. ^ http://www.theperlmanpages.i12.com/bsmovies/drmoreau.htm
  2. ^ Psycho Kilmer
  3. ^ http://www.everythingisundercontrol.org/nagtloper/moreau/moreau2.php
  4. ^ http://www.everythingisundercontrol.org/nagtloper/moreau/moreau2.php
  5. ^ http://www.moria.co.nz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2051&Itemid=1
  6. ^ The Island of Dr. Moreau - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Island of Dr. Moreau is a 1996 film about about a scientist who attempts to create the perfect race by converting animals into people.

Directed by John Frankenheimer. Written by H.G. Wells (novel) and Richard Stanley (screenplay).
Stars Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer and David Thewlis
The gates of hell are unlocked.

Contents

Edward Douglas

  • [opening lines] Our plane crashed in the endless southern pacific, and we drifted for days between life and death. On the sixth or seventh day the two men who had survived with me began to fight over the last canteen of water. They fought like beasts, not men. I fought for my life, just as savagely as they did.
  • [closing lines] This is a true record of what I saw. I set it down only leaving out the longitude and latitude of the island, as a warning to all who would follow in Moreau's footsteps. Most times, I keep the memory far in the back of my mind, a distant cloud. But there are times when the little cloud spreads, until it obscures the sky. And those times I look around at my fellow men and I am reminded of some likeness of the beast-people, and I feel as though the animal is surging up in them. And I know they are neither wholly animal nor holy man, but an unstable combination of both. As unstable as anything Moreau created. And I go... in fear.

Dr. Moreau

  • I have seen the devil in my microscope, and I have chained him.
  • I have almost achieved perfection, you see, of a divine creature that is pure, harmonious, absolutely incapable of any malice. And if in my tinkering I have fallen short of the human form by the snout, claw or hoof, it really is of no great importance. I am closer that you could possibly imagine, sir.

Montgomery

  • [On Dr. Moreau] Animal rights activists drove him out of the States. Got so bad you couldn't cage a rat without reading him his rights.
  • [When Edward attempts to use a radio for help] Who do you think you're going to call, hmm? What are you going to say when you get someone on the horn? "Mayday, mayday, I'm being held by a pig lady"?

Sayer of the Law

  • It is a hard way, the way of being a man. Sooner or later we all want a thing that is bad. To walk on all fours. To suck up drink from a stream. To jabber, instead of saying the words. To go snuffling at the earth, and to claw on the bark of trees. To eat flesh, or fish. To make love to more than one, every which way. These are all bad things. These are not the things that men do. But we are men, are we not? We are men because the Father has made us men!
  • To go on two legs is very hard. Perhaps four is better, anyway.

Dialogue

Edward Douglas: Are you a doctor?
Montgomery: Well, I'm more of a vet.

External links


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