MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND  -  MOVIE 1996

 

 

 

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1996 Walt Disney puppet film

 

 

 

Muppet Treasure Island is a 1996 American musical swashbuckler comedy film directed by Brian Henson. It is the fifth theatrical film in The Muppets franchise.

Adapted from the 1883 novel Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, similarly to its predecessor The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), the key roles were played by live-action actors, with the Muppets in supporting roles. In addition to the Muppet performers in various roles, the film stars Tim Curry and introduces Kevin Bishop as Jim Hawkins.

The film was released in the United States on February 16, 1996, by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. It grossed $34 million on a budget of $31 million, and received generally positive reviews from critics. It is the second Muppets film to be produced by Walt Disney Pictures, whose parent company would later acquire the Muppets franchise in 2004. 

PLOT

Jim Hawkins is a young orphan who lives in an inn in England with his best friends Gonzo and Rizzo. Jim listens to Billy Bones' tales about the pirate Captain Flint, who buried his treasure trove on a remote island and executed his crew so only he would own the island's map. One night, Bones' crewmate Blind Pew arrives, giving Bones the black spot. Just before dying of a heart attack, Bones gives Jim the treasure map and begs him to go after the treasure and keep it safe from pirate hands, especially a one-legged man. Just then, an army of pirates attack the inn, destroying it, but Jim, Gonzo, and Rizzo escape with the map.

The trio takes the map to the half-wit Squire Trelawney (Fozzie Bear), who arranges a voyage to find the treasure. The boys are enlisted aboard the Hispaniola as cabin boys, accompanied by Trelawney, Dr. Livesey (Bunsen Honeydew), and Beaker. The ship is commanded by Captain Abraham Smollett (Kermit the Frog) and his overly strict first mate, Mr. Arrow (Sam Eagle). The boys meet the cook Long John Silver, the one-legged man whom Bones warned them of, but Jim and Silver become good friends. The ship sets sail, but Smollett is suspicious of the crew, believing them to be of shady character. After Gonzo and Rizzo are kidnapped and tortured by three of the crew who have turned out to be pirates, he has the treasure map locked up for safe keeping.

It is revealed that Silver and the secret pirates in the crew had been part of Flint's crew and want the treasure for themselves. Silver fools Mr. Arrow into leaving the ship to test out a rowboat, says he drowned, and has his minions steal the map during Arrow's memorial service. Jim, Gonzo, and Rizzo discover Silver's treachery and inform Smollett. Arriving at Treasure Island, Smollett orders the entire crew save the officers to go ashore, planning to keep himself and non-pirate crew aboard the ship and abandon the pirates on the island. However, his plan falls through when it is discovered that Silver has kidnapped Jim to have leverage against the captain. On the island, Silver invites Jim to join them in the treasure hunt using his late father's compass. When Jim refuses, Silver forcibly takes the compass from him. Smollett, Gonzo, and Rizzo land on the island in an effort to rescue Jim. However, unbeknownst to them, Silver had hidden a squad of pirates aboard the Hispaniola before leaving, and they capture the ship in Smollett's absence. On the island, Smollett and the rest of the landing party are captured by the native tribe of pigs, where Smollett reunites with his jilted lover Benjamina Gunn (Miss Piggy), the tribe's queen.

The pirates find that the cave in which Flint hid the treasure is empty, leading to a brief mutiny against Silver. Silver reveals that, even though he is a pirate, he cares for Jim and allows him to escape. After reprimanding the crew from using a page from the Bible to deliver a death sentence, Silver and his crew capture Smollett and Benjamina. Smollett is hung from a cliff to fall to his death, joined soon by Benjamina after she reveals where the treasure is hidden to save his life. Jim rescues his friends and with an alive Mr. Arrow, who portrays his own ghost to scare the pirates aboard the ship, the group regains control of the Hispaniola and rescues Smollett and Benjamina.

The group engages the remaining pirates in a sword fight on the beach with Sweetums defecting to Smollett's side until only Silver is left standing, but he surrenders when he finds himself outnumbered. While the pirates are imprisoned, Silver discovers he still has Mr. Arrow's keys and tries to escape with the treasure during the night. Jim confronts him and threatens to give his position away, while Silver draws his pistol. In a tearful standoff, neither can bring themselves to follow their threats and Jim allows Silver to leave as long as they never cross paths again, much to their disappointment. Silver rows away, but not before returning Jim's compass to him and complimenting his kind heart. However, Mr. Arrow informs Jim and Smollett that the boat Silver used was not seaworthy, and Silver is later stranded on Treasure Island.

The crew of the Hispaniola sails away into the sunset, but not before some scuba-diving rat tourists recover the treasure from the sea. 

PRODUCTION

Following the release of The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), it was decided that the next Muppet film would be an adaptation of a classic story. Co-writer Kirk R. Thatcher stated: "There were a whole bunch of ideas out there and I was most keen on Treasure Island and a King Arthur story with medival dragons and knights, in the end we all agreed as a group that Treasure Island was a better story for the Muppets to take on." In the first draft, Gonzo and Rizzo were initially written to portray two characters named Jim and Hawkins, but Thatcher explained that "the studio was nervous that they couldn't hold the emotional heart of the movie, so eventually the human Jim Hawkins was written in, and we cast Gonzo and Rizzo alongside him." About a hundred actors auditioned the role of Jim Hawkins, but Kevin Bishop, who did the very first audition, received the part.

In May 1993, Brian Henson announced that the Muppets would appear in a loose film adaptation of Treasure Island. Filming was slated to begin in the fall in London with a tentative release date slated for spring 1994. While the film did not have a distributor at the time, Walt Disney Pictures had a first-look deal. Veteran Muppet performer Frank Oz was unavailable for most of the shooting due to scheduling conflicts with his directing career, so fellow Muppet performer Kevin Clash puppeteered his characters on set, while Oz dubbed the voices in post-production. Oz had already participated in a recorded read-through of the script; Clash used these recordings to help prompt his performances. According to Clash, Oz gave him a brief description of each of his characters prior to shooting. Oz described Miss Piggy as "a truck driver wanting to be a woman", and Fozzie Bear as somebody similar to Jerry Lewis.

CAST

- Kevin Bishop as Jim Hawkins, a friendly orphan boy who, for most of his life, has worked at the Admiral Benbow Inn under the strict rule of Mrs. Bluveridge, but has always dreamed of daring adventures. He is very nave, which proves to be somewhat of a problem for him, as he forms a friendship with Long John Silver, who is ultimately revealed to be a pirate.

- Tim Curry as Long John Silver, a duplicitous but smooth-talking pirate, posing as a chef, who mentors Jim until he is overheard by Gonzo, Rizzo and Jim as he reveals his plans to take over the Hispaniola. During his siege on Treasure Island, it is suggested that Silver and Benjamina Gunn share a romantic history. Despite his evil nature, he cares about Jim.

- Billy Connolly as Billy Bones, an ex-pirate, previously a member of Captain Flint's crew who witnessed the burial of gold on Treasure Island and informs Jim that he still has the map to the treasure before he suffers a fatal heart attack.

- Jennifer Saunders as Mrs. Sarah Bluveridge, an intimidating, feisty woman who owns the Admiral Benbow Inn where Jim and his friends work. She has an uncanny ability to hear conversations from far away, which leads to various characters exclaiming, "How does she do that?" Though strict with the boys, she does show genuine love for Jim and his friends, helping them escape the pirates before fighting them off herself.

 

 

 

Top 10 treasure island films

Treasure Island 1934 MGM -

Treasure Island 1950 RKO Walt Disney -

Treasure Island 1972 CCC Film & National General Pictures -
Treasure Island 1990 TV Movie -

Muppet Treasure Island 1996 -

Treasure Island (I) 1999 -

Treasure Planet 2002 Disney, animated -
Treasure Island 2007 Die Schatzinsel -

Treasure Island 2012 BSkyB TV 180 min Action, Adventure -

Treasure Island 2019-2023 Universal Studios & Mandeville -

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

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The Foundation aim to release a script for Treasure Island in 2023.

 

 

  MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND 1996 - THE TOP TEN BEST AND WORST MOVIE VERSIONS OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON'S PIRATE CLASSIC

 

 

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