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1990 Treasure Island


The Treasure Island movie (1990) may seem a little dated today, but like its predecessors, it received primarily positive reviews. It was directed by Fraser C. Heston and starred Christian Bale as Jim Hawkins and Charlton Heston as Long John Silver. Much of the dialogue for this version was taken directly from the novel, lending the film a sense of authenticity. It also featured several of the more violent scenes from the book that other versions had opted to minimize or omit altogether. The cast of the 1990 version was particularly star-studded and was notably one of Christian Bale's first starring film roles.


Treasure Island is a 1990 British-American made-for-television film adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel of the same name, written and directed by Fraser Clarke Heston (Charlton Heston's son), and also starring several notable British actors, including Christian Bale, Oliver Reed, Christopher Lee (both of whom had starred alongside Heston in the 1973 Three Musketeers film), Julian Glover and Pete Postlethwaite.

The film was an original production filmed and aired by the TNT network, and was also released theatrically outside the US. The title has appeared on some covers as "Devils Treasure", rather than "Treasure Island". This version of the story is noted for its faithfulness to the book, with much of the dialogue coming directly from it, as well as recreating several of the more violent scenes from the book.


Captain Bones, an elderly pirate, arrives at the Admiral Benbow inn, owned by Jim Hawkins and his widowed mother. Bones spends his days keeping watch for a one-legged man and making a dangerous nuisance of himself.

One day, pirate Black Dog appears at the inn, sword fights Bones, and retreats. Bones begins to suffer cardiac arrest, but before Jim can help him, former pirate Blind Pew arrives, gives Bones the Black Spot and leaves. Bones gives Jim the key to his chest and dies.

Mrs. Hawkins and Jim search Bones' chest in search of rent. Jim takes a packet of papers, but Pew and Black Dog return with more pirates and attack the Hawkinses for the papers. Dr. Livesey and his men arrive, scattering the pirates and killing Pew. Livesey and Jim take the papers to Squire Trelawney. One of the papers is a map by Captain Flint, who buried £700,000 on the island shown.

Trelawney procures the ship Hispaniola, hires Captain Smollett, and with the help of one-legged publican Long John Silver, gathers a crew of sailors. Livesey and Jim come aboard as ship's doctor and cabin boy. Smollett starts making plans in case of mutiny, annoying Trelawney, who believes Smollett is too suspicious.

Later on, Jim climbs into an apple barrel to get one for Trelawney. He overhears three sailors - Silver, Israel Hands, and Dick Johnson - planning a mutiny. After land is sighted, Jim hurries to Livesey, Trelawney, and Smollet, who secretly plan their own offensive.

Smollett allows some of the crew to go ashore, so there are fewer mutineers on the Hispaniola to deal with. He, Trelawney, and Livesey gather Trelawney's servants (Hunter, Joyce, and Redruth) and hole up in the ship's cabin. Jim sneaks ashore to spy on Silver, witnesses the murder of two sailors who refuse to join the mutiny, and finds Ben Gunn, whom Flint marooned on the island three years prior.

Livesy and Hunter also sneak ashore, find Flint's old stockade, and arrange for their party to change their base of operations. However, Hands uses the cannon to sink the jolly boat while Smollett's party is rowing to shore in it, and in the ensuing pursuit across the island, Redruth is shot dead. Gunn guides Jim to the stockade, giving him a cryptic message to take to the Squire.

The next morning, Silver tries and fails to parley with Smollett for the map. The pirates storm the stockade, wounding Joyce and the Captain, but are driven away with heavy losses. That night, Jim steals Gunn's coracle, sails to the Hispaniola and cuts the anchor line. Hands, badly wounded after a fight on board, agrees to help Jim beach the Hispaniola, then attempts to stab him in the back after the ship runs aground. Jim flees into the shrouds; Hands throws the knife, cutting Jim's shoulder, and Jim shoots and kills Hands.

Jim returns to the stockade to find his friends gone and the mutineers there instead. Jim bravely admits he has caused most of their problems, and Silver is nearly deposed by George Merry, who wishes to kill Jim. Silver reveals he bargained with Livesey for the map - seeing the treasure map, the pirates return to Silver's side and decide to keep Jim alive as a hostage. The next day, Livesey comes to treat some of the pirates, and Jim confides to him about the Hispaniola, and that he owes his life to Silver. Livesey hurries back to tell the others.

The pirates set off with the map in search of the treasure. Along the way, they are frightened by "Captain Flint's" voice calling out, unaware it is Gunn teasing them. They discover the treasure has already been looted. Merry leads the pirates once more in rebellion against Silver; Livesey's party arrives and drives them off. Silver, Jim, and the Doctor's party return to Gunn's cave; Gunn found and moved the treasure there many months prior. They load the Hispaniola and set sail for home.

Silver, unwilling to stand trial for his crimes, threatens Gunn and steals a gig, sailing off to freedom. The rest take their treasure home, and Jim vows never to return to the cursed island.


Treasure Island was filmed in 1989 on location in Cornwall, England, in Jamaica, and also at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England. The replica ship Bounty II was used as the fictional Hispaniola on film. It was originally constructed for the film Mutiny on The Bounty, and was set to be destroyed at the end of the film but Marlon Brando protested and the ship was kept intact. It sank off the coast of the Carolinas during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.


Charlton Heston as Long John Silver
Christian Bale as Jim Hawkins
Oliver Reed as Billy Bones
Christopher Lee as Blind Pew
Richard Johnson as Squire Trelawney
Julian Glover as Dr Livesey
Isla Blair as Mrs Hawkins
Clive Wood as Captain Smollet
Nicholas Amer as Ben Gunn
John Abbott as Joyce
James Cosmo as Redruth
James Coyle as Morgan
Michael Halsey as Israel Hands
Michael Thoma as Hunter
Pete Postlethwaite as George Merry
Robert Putt as Job Anderson
John Benfield as Black Dog
Richard Beale as Mr Arrow
Brett Fancy as Young Tom
Steven Mackintosh as Dick
Bill Sloan as Scarface









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 -












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






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