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The Sailor Who Fell from Grace With the Sea

3.4 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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(Jan 27, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Obsession and fate collide in one of the most controversial and provocative films ever made. English widow Anne Osborne (Ryan's Daughter's Sarah Miles) lives by the sea with her young son, Jonathan. The arrival of a rugged American sailor, Jim (Blade's Kris Kristofferson), brings Anne the joy and sensual fulfillment she thought had gone forever, but her son is disturbed by this new intruder and joins a perverse group of fellow students led by the charismatic Chief. With its disturbing shock ending and frank love scenes, this stylish adaptation of the novel by legendary writer Yukio Mishima has become a timeless classic, with stylish direction by Lewis John Carlino (The Great Santini), powerhouse performances, exquisite cinematography by the legendary Douglas Slocombe (Raiders of the Lost Ark), and a haunting score by Johnny Mandel (M*A*S*H). Beautiful, eerie, and erotic, this spellbinder has been restored from archival elements to its anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) glory.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Sarah Miles, Kris Kristofferson, Jonathan Kahn, Margo Cunningham, Earl Rhodes
  • Directors: Lewis John Carlino
  • Writers: Lewis John Carlino, Yukio Mishima
  • Producers: David White, Kikumaru Okuda, Martin Poll
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 27, 2004
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000YEE1C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,015 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Sailor Who Fell from Grace With the Sea" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
I was 22 when this first came out and thought it was a very emotional and sensuous movie. The ending produced a tremendous feeling of sadness which stayed with me for years. I recently saw it again. Disappointingly it has one of the most erotic scenes edited. The trick of showing time passing by having a picture boat glide across a picture ocean really seems corny. For a better Sarah Miles movie which holds up for its eroticism and story quality, I'd recommend "Ryan's Daughter".
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Format: DVD
Haunting, and utterly creepy oddity from the 70's, a time when film makers could finally begin to bring their personal artistic visions to the screen, without the fear of censorship. The subtle, romantic affair between the woman and the sailor, and the disturbing nature of her young son and his band of twisted friends, make for a jarring combination of light and darkness, innocence and evil. The seaside village is extremely beautiful and provides a fine backdrop to the tale. But after all I heard about "controversial sex scenes," I must admit that i didn't see anything of the sort. There is one scene early on in the film, where Sara Miles masturbates in front of her mirror, while her son watches through a peep hole, covered in sweat! But after that there was really nothing. The scenes with Miles and Kristoferson just arent there. The scene always seems to begin after they are finished with the sex and just lying in eachothers arms. It seems that so much is missing that parts of the story dont even make sense. For instance, when the mother goes berserk after she discovers her son watching; why does she go so crazy, I have to wonder what he saw, because i didnt see anything! Also something he sees through that peephole causes him to develop a totally unreasonable hatred and disrespect for his mother, and her lover, who always treated him very nicely! If this is indeed cut, it is only evidence that censorship is still alive and well and thriving in the closed, dirty minds of Americans. It seems like we should have made some progress since the 1970's, but it saddens me to see that we have somehow degenerated as a society, at least in our views of sexuality. This saddens me for some reason. Other than this glaring and unforgivable flaw, the dvd offers a gorgeous, widescreen print of this film, making it an even greater loss somehow...
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Format: VHS Tape
This movie takes the liberty of transplanting the Yukio Mishima novel's setting from Yokohama, Japan to a sleepy English port town. Inevitably, it changes the nationalities of the protagonists (Japanese widow and sailor to English and American, respectively). These modifications are not what detracts from the movie's impact, but instead the plotline and the character development (or rather, the lack of).
Regarding plot, the filmmakers took an oversimplified approach on Mishima's rich examination into the characters' psyches. This successively leads to the poor character development in the film. The actors sincerely try to display intensity in their characters' roles, but without any understanding of their derivations, they muddle the story. A good example involves the "chief" of the boys' gang. We are given an expose his controlling, fascist behavior: one memorable scene involves him angrily kicking out all the members of the gang from his house due to them not grasping his level of consciousness (the twisted, hateful look on this young boy's face shows his ferocity). But without further details on his motives or personality, it's difficult to surmise his attitude. We only see that he is an angry, manipulative, nihilistic monster.
The love affair between the sailor and the mother of one of the gangmembers actully compounds the film's problems. Although their sex scenes are erotic and very explicit (they were considered quite shocking for that time; today they might qualify as soft-core pornography, albeit many will disagree with this), one is left to wonder what attracts these two who have such disparity between them? The director places great emphasis on this physical attraction and spends much time detailing this.
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Format: DVD
There is much to like in this film. It's certainly stylish, has nice shots of the sea and the English countryside. The actors, Kristofferson and Miles were at the peak of their appeal, and yes, there are plenty of explicit love scenes. However there are a lot of problems, too. The Amazon reviewer does a good job of laying them out.

I found reading some of the reviews of Mishima's novel from which the film is made very useful. It makes much more sense in the context of Japanese culture. Translating it into Western culture robs the story of any credibility, in my opinion. Kristofferson, too, is quintessentially American and brings a very realistic quality to this tale which is quite spare and almost surreal. Mishima's style can make you accept the story he's telling but when it's translated into this realistic, Western setting, much more needs to be explained in order for the film to work.

The "Chief," a young boy who obviously has a dreadful home life, is presented as a psychopath whose cruelty to animals is justified, he thinks, by his superior mentality. Think Leopold and Loeb. I found it hard to believe that he would have been able to get so far with this group of boys, given the fact that they were all from apparently well to do families. The mother, played by Sarah Miles, dislikes this boy but somehow her son manages to keep close company with the group, to the point where he is carried away with the insanity the Chief teaches. The boy, Jonathan, at first is enamored of Jim, the sailor, played by Kristofferson and it seems to be a healthy connection. I found the change in Jonathan to lack credibility. No doubt it works in the novel; here it just seems terribly odd and oddly terrible.
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