As the island dwellers climb to the top of a steep and active volcano, they observe a small boat just off shore far in the distance. Clambering back to the sandy beach in hopes of making contact, the group discovers two surviving ladies and one dead seaman washed ashore. Bernard Herrmann's music is tender and compassionate at the discovery of these two lone survivors of an apparent shipwreck off shore. Herrmann once described a film's soundtrack music as "the connecting link between celluloid and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one single experience." Mysterious Island features one of Herrmann's best scores, also available separately via a Tribute Film Classics CD with William Stromberg conducting the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. The score restoration is by John Morgan, Anna Bonn, and William Stromberg, available from screenarchives.com. The music is fabulous, with wide range high fidelity sound and tremendous scope and symphonic power. In 1975 the Decca Record Company issued a classic LP entitled "The Mysterious Film World of Bernard Herrmann," featuring Herrmann conducting the National Philharmonic Orchestra on a London Phase 4 Stereo disc, recorded at Kingsway Hall in London. Besides several selections from "Mysterious Island," this LP also includes music from Herrmann's scores for "Jason & The Argonauts" and "The Three Worlds of Gulliver."
Interesting Characters & Fascinating Dimensions
Actress Joan Greenwood (1921-1987) plays Lady Mary Fairchild with her regal accent and noble bearing. Born in Chelsea, Joan Greenwood studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and appeared in films such as "Kind Hearts & Coronets" (1949) and "The Importance of Being Earnest" (1952). She enjoyed a stage career appearing with Donald Wolfit's theatre company in the years following WWII. In her role as Lady Mary in "Mysterious Island," Ms. Greenwood is simply sensational, adding dramatic delight and superlative character to her portrayal of a shipwrecked survivor now stranded upon an uncharted but enchanted island in the Pacific. After the two surviving ladies are discovered on the beach, Herbert relates to Lady Mary that "We came by balloon," to which she immediately responds, "I beg your pardon....Please don't talk nonsense!" Obviously it is an incredible claim by the escaped prisoner of war, but Capt. Harding assures Lady Mary that it is indeed a true if somewhat incredulous story of their flight via a hot air balloon over the Pacific waters. Both Lady Mary and her niece Elena Fairchild (played by actress Beth Rogan) add beauty and grace to this tropical paradise amidst a splendid series of fantastic adventures.
Details Along the Journey
The film continues with brief portraits of forests and woods. Several scenes feature a sensational portrait of caves which Capt. Harding climbs via long lengths of hanging vines in order to inspect the interior. As the Captain enters the caves high above the sandy beach, Bernard Herrmann's music again helps to fashion the atmosphere and drama of the scenes inside the cave. The Captain finds a letter dated 1862 from a dusty diary hidden within the confines of the secretive cave. After determining that the cave would make a suitable home for the island survivors, Capt. Harding orders the rest of the crew to ascend the vines in order to fully inspect the entirety of the cave's interior. In the film's narrative voice-over, the Captain relates that their newly found home was christened "The Granite House," now accessible via a homemade elevator, adding that, "We lived like primitive men." As the group becomes comfortable in their lofty aerie, the conversation between Mr. Spilitt and Lady Mary enters a delightful phase as Mr. Spilitt turns toward the elegant Lady, eloquently stating the observation that, "At the moment my main comfort is your presence." Mr. Spilitt pretends to use opera glasses as he takes a momentary break from shaving in this inventive, imaginative and thoroughly captivating scene.