Jul 12, 2012

Shipwrecked: Jens Builds a Family


Blue Lagoon, Paradise, and the various  Swiss Family Robinson adaptions of the 1980s and 1990s were heterosexist fables, with the shipwreck on a tropical island just an excuse to get a girl out of her clothes and into a boy's arms.

At first glance, the 1990 Håkon Håkonsen (released in the U.S. as Shipwrecked) is no different.  Haakon (14 year old Stian Smestad), cabin boy on a ship in the 1850s, meets a young stowaway, who turns out to be a girl named Mary (Louisa Millwood-Haight).

But the romance between the two stars is minimal; they behave more like best friends than boyfriend and girlfriend.


Meanwhile hunky sailor Jens (Trond Peter Stamsø Munch) expresses no interest in women and takes a big-buddy interest in Haakon.  Although he doesn't express any romantic interest, he does acknowledge the boy's erotic desirability.  When they are on shore leave, Jens steers Haakon away from the ladies of the evening, admonishing him to “protect his valuables."











Although Jens steps aside to permit alone time with Mary, the result is not so much a romance as a familial connection.  At the end of the movie, all three return to Norway together.











The lack of a heterosexist fade-out-kiss can be attributed to the original 1878 novel Haakon Haakonsen: A Norwegian Robinson, which minimized the girl, as was common in juvenile fiction of the era (I can't read Norwegian, but she seems to disappear for large passages).   Or to director Nils Gaup, who also directed the Sami drama Pathfinder.

Trond Peter Munch has not acted outside of Norway.  Stian Smested is currently a director, specializing in documentaries.