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The Old Man and the Sea

CritiqueQuotes • At the movies

1958, 1990, 1999

The Old Man and the Sea scene
Fishing in the beautifully animated film of The Old Man and the Sea.

The short happy life of the old man

The Old Man and the Sea (1999): Animated short; director Aleksandr Petrov; writer Petrov; featuring voices of Gordon Pinsent and Kevan Delaye (English version), Yoji Matsuda and Rentar? Mikuni (Japanese version)

The best adaptation of The Old Man and the Sea is sometimes said to be the 1999 animated version and it's hard to argue with this.

It's a short film, a Canadian-Japanese-Russian production originally made for the giant IMAX screen and winning an Academy Award for best animated short film, along with other honours.

Veteran Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent voices the old man in the English-language version.

The film is surprisingly faithful to the novella for such an abbreviated format, focusing mainly on Santiago, the old man of the title, and his battle with the big fish. Included though are the man's memories of lions on beach at the beginning and of his days as a sailor, which are missing from some more spacious adaptations. The shark attack scenes are mercifully cut short. Otherwise all the highlights are hit in this gentle film's twenty-one minutes, though some of them are more suggested than spelled out.

What holds it all together is the lovely, fluid animation, like the sea itself, its currents endlessly meandering past each other, merging and flowing apart and merging again. (I feel I'm about to break into song with John Lennon's "Across the Universe".)

If I had to manufacture any criticisms of this film, it would be that it's too gentle, too wistful. The visual beauty tends to undercut the hardship of the old man's life—all the people's lives.

But it's hardly worth spending time spinning words about this film when you can watch the whole thing yourself during a coffee break:

The full animated film of The Old Man and the Sea, the English-language version.

— Eric


CritiqueQuotes • At the movies

1958, 1990, 1999