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Based on 'the perfect storm' off the East coast of the US in October 1991, this is the story of the fishing boat Andrea Gail and what happened to it and to others caught in the unique confluence of three diabolical weather systems. Capt. Billy Tyne (George Clooney), takes his boat out to the far-flung Flamish Cap off the Gloucester coast, in a desperate attempt to haul a decent catch after a bad spell, unaware until it's too late that he's facing a weather demon of unparelleled ferocity. He and his crew, Bobby (Mark Wahlberg), Dale 'Murph' (John C. Reilly), David 'Sully' (William Fichtner) Michael 'Bugsy' (John Hawkes) and Alfred Pieree (Allen Payne), find the fish allright, but on the journey back home, they meet 'the perfect storm'. Warnings, including frantic calls from fellow sword fishing boat captain Linda Greenlaw (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), don't get through.

"It's big, wet and wild, an awesome display of cinematic skills coming together to give audiences an almost tangible sense of what a giant storm is like, short of actually being there. But that's not all of the film; Bill Witliff's screenplay and Wolfgang Petersen's direction provide the human scale, with a solid sense of place and of the people established at the beginning of the film. We meet the characters and the town itself, we are seeped in the atmosphere of a fishing village - from its homes to its rustic bar - which is used to the tragedies of the sea. (The film is dedicated to the 10,000 fishermen who have died in these waters since 1682.)

These essential early scenes are par for the course in all 'disaster pictures' - and this film falls into that category, even though it's based on fact. However, Peterson spends longer on this part of the film than Hollywood usually allows, and the payoff comes later when the characters - both on water and on land - are under stress.

We have learnt something of their emotional lives, their specific motivations and their dreams. And the entire cast excels with characterisations that seep into our consciousness with often small but meaningful moments. Like the moment in the bar the night before the Andrea Gail sets off, when lonesome Bugsy (John Hawkes) tries to chat up a lady customer. After a short and ambigous conversation, she heads back home to her two small kids, and in a wideshot of the bar, we see Bugsy exhale smoke slowly - a wordless picture that speaks a thousand words.

These small subtleties provide dramatic fill for the engulfing power of the storm that occupies the latter half of the film. And here, the combination of John Seale's cinematography and ILM's digital storm-making take us into the heart of this heartless monster of weather systems on the rampage. It will sweep you away, leaving your stomach muscles tensed and your senses fatigued - and that's just sitting in a cinema seat and watching; and listening, of course, to Horner's rich score.

The film sets out to document this perfect storm and at the same time pay tribute to the people whose lives it affected, or indeed took away. It succeeds in its intentions by being both thrilling and moving."
Andrew L. Urban

"You can taste the salt, as gigantic waves smash onto the small fishing vessel, tossing it uncontrollably on a violent sea of peril. The strong, seasoned fishermen are dumped unceremoniously as gushing torrents of water canon from side to side. This is the dramatic setting for The Perfect Storm, Wolfgang Petersen's engulfing saga of an angry sea beset by a meteorological monstrosity and the men that braved it. They're a breed of their own – the men who trawl the oceans. Living on the edge of a wave in more ways than one, these courageous men swing emotionally from fear to exhilaration, as mother nature's pendulum oscillates the extremes.

In a moving tribute to the heroes of the sea, Petersen captures not only the drama, conflict and madness, but the humanity of the people, their values and aspirations. Personal differences on dry land are literally cast in the ocean, as unequivocal loyalty and camaraderie become the only issues when confronted by those of life and death. Junger's descriptive prose is brought vividly to life by a succinct screenplay, extraordinary cinematography by our own John Seale, and an intensely relentless score, emulating the ocean's troughs and crests.

The awesome special effects are seamless – we are so engrossed in the characters, we have no idea where reality, fantasy and technology meet. George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg head a top cast, capturing the grit and manic determination magnificently. We genuinely care about all the characters– from the dedicated men of the sea to those waiting impatiently at home.

The Perfect Storm is great cinematic storytelling. The intensity never abates and the 130 minute running time simply flies. Overwhelmingly moving, you'll hold your breath, grit your teeth and sit on the edge of your seat throughout as the terror of the ocean rules. If you want to be swept away, The Perfect Storm is the perfect choice."
Louise Keller

"While the waves are pounding and the wind is howling The Perfect Storm is an exciting, thrill-packed story of man against nature. The special effects team can collect their Oscars straight away but away from the maritime mayhem this comes up short. Although screenwriter Bill Whitliff and director Wolfgang Petersen spend plenty of time developing character there is one huge flaw which leaves the film without the emotional core it needs.

The character of ship's captain Billy Tyne unfortunately registers as an irresponsible, gung-ho daredevil willing and even eager to put the lives of his crew at risk. That may have been the case in real life but dramatically it leaves us with an unlikeable central character who's intended to be heroic. Clooney and the rest of the boys, especially Boogie Nights alumni Wahlberg and Reilly, do sterling work at the centre of the storm and side-dramas involving a yacht crew in peril and Coast Guard rescue operations are welcome additions.

As a big-screen spectacular the last 40 minutes of The Perfect Storm is as good as it gets. There's just not quite enough before the showpiece to make it memorable as a whole."
Richard Kuipers

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Jenny Cooney Carrillo talks to


See Andrew L. Urban's interview with

JOHN SEALE from the set.




CAST: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, William Fichtner, Karen Allen, Allen Payne, Bob Gunton, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

DIRECTOR: Wolfgang Petersen

PRODUCER: Paula Weinstein, Wolfgang Petersen, Gail Katz

SCRIPT: Bill Wittliff, Bo Goldman


EDITOR: Richard Francis-Bruce

MUSIC: James Horner


RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes



The Perfect Storm & Titanic:
* both films are based on fact;

* both films tell the story of a tragedy at sea;

* in both stories nature is the baddie (iceberg/storm);

* both films set the story within romantic and dramatic elements;

* both films cost a fortune to make;

* both screenplays are structured similarly;

* Titanic's s*cript invented the central characters;

* Titanic's passengers were playing not working;

* Titanic's disaster was larger in lives lost;

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