Treasure Island (3 stars)

Treasure Island

(PG) 86min (HBF)

Robert Louis Stevenson’s 19th century tale of peg-legged pirates, treasure maps and derring-do has been surprisingly ill served by cinema. Countless Disney adaptations aside, this 1971 Russian version and Chilean filmmaker Raoul Ruiz’s insanely tangential 1985 version (now there’s a film ripe for rediscovery on DVD) remain the only versions of any real interest. Directed by actor turned director Yevgheny Fridman for Russia’s perennial Gorky Studios, this version is equal parts spaghetti western (most notably during the battle for ship the Admiral Benbow) and sentimental children’s fantasy.

Despite running out of steam towards the end and giving way to the most saccharine of expectations, Fridman’s film, now thankfully returned to its original language version (with subtitles) after originally only being available in a horrible West Country dubbed English language version, still contains enough bravura set pieces to keep the most distractible child or adult watching. Minimal extras.

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