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the perfect storm Essay


The Perfect Storm, directed by Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, Air Force One) tells the dramatic events that resulted from a phenomenal storm formation in the North Atlantic region in 1991. Based on a true story, The Perfect Storm follows the "Andrea Gail", a fishing boat that left Gloucester, Massachusetts and headed directly into the eye of a hurricane of unexampled proportions.

Realizing his fishermen were underpaid and overworked, Captain Billy Tyne decides to make the last fishing expedition of the season and aim for more distant waters, where he thinks to find tonnes of fish. Although leaving their homes and their loved ones required tremendous will power, the promise of a more successful venture convinced fishermen Bobby Shatford , Dale Murphy and David Sullivan to join, and Andrea Gail optimistically departs. Soon, however, family members' with one word are discontent about the sporadic nature of the trip because of the weather conditions. Conflicts arise when Captain Billy and his crew decide to ignore Captain Linda's radio warnings about the perfect storm forming close ahead.

The Perfect Storm slowly builds up to Andrea Gail's departure, and initially focuses on each fisherman's personal situation. Although these descriptions offer enough information about the characters' needs and their devotion to the sea, they are not sufficient to create in the viewer a sense of sympathy for each character. Consequently, these scenes do not provide a setup that is affective and they fail to offer an intriguing premise as the basis for the drama that will eventually unfold. As if to compensate, the swelling music that accompanies these scenes tries to provide a feeling that something is leading up to a great event.

When Andrea Gail is at sea and it is clear that the "main event" will be her struggle with the ocean's temperament, The Perfect Storm's plot swings between complications (mainly accidents or animosity among the fishermen) and the decline of their respective little victories, as the complications are safely resolved. Furthermore, the climactic event evolves while other smaller dramas, such as a coast guard helicopter trying to rescue a family, or the helicopter running out of fuel, unfold simultaneously. This distracts from the main focus and suggests that the main plot needs simultaneous drama. Still, by means of careful photography and spectacular special effects, The Perfect Storm is successful in its attempt to define the ocean as being really magnificent --or rather, perfect-- when it is most dangerous.

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