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The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

My Rating 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Opening Remarks

A fabulous action-adventure movie with great practical effects. I really enjoyed the performances of all the actors and found their characters relatable. Movies from this period have a different feel to them, an atmosphere that draws you into the story. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is, the colour and look of the film, the dialogue or maybe it's just nostalgia (yes, that’s around my time).

The Plot

It’s a tense drama set on an upturned cruise ship requiring the characters to search for a way out. The journey that follows presents awesome set design amid substantial obstacles to be overcome. The tension builds from the conflict between the characters themselves just as much as the physical dangers they face. The pacing is perfect, we’re introduced to the characters quickly and learn enough to understand them. Then we’re thrown into the action, literally.

The premise presents an interesting analogy to the journey of life we all find ourselves undertaking. A lone cruise ship in the middle of the ocean is struck by a tsunami, the product of an underwater earthquake. The ship is struck hard and is capsized meaning the hull is on the surface, for a time anyway. The survivors are trapped and need rescuing. Most of them were in the ballroom at the time which is now underwater. They need to head up to the surface which on this ship means navigating to the engine room while everything is upside down. Does that sound like your life sometimes?

The Characters

Reverend Scott (Gene Hackman) is a colourful character who doesn’t fit the mould of his profession. He is outspoken, opinionated and goes against the grain. He disagreed with a chaplain on board more than once. His reason for being on the ship was transport to the middle of nowhere to minister. Perceived as punishment by others, it's actually what he wants. He is intelligent and can see more than most, this was well established early on. He was the one who realised the need to head up but the vast majority of the survivors chose to stay and wait. The source of this wisdom was an outspoken authoritative crew member. The few who believed Scott, a mixed bag of characters from all walks of life, helped him use the Christmas tree as a ladder to climb the abnormal height of the ballroom. Once they had made the climb, he begged the others to come too but to no avail. Soon, the water began gushing in and many changed their mind. In the panic, the tree was knocked down and it was over.

Scott was in pain over the wasteful loss but kept on mission leading the others on. He was aided by another crew member who knew the way. He got them so far before also being lost but it’s clear his contribution saved their lives. Mike Rogo (Ernest Borgnine), a passionate man reluctant to have followed Scott, often voiced his displeasure and was keen to take over. The group did find more survivors but they too were heading the wrong way. Scott tried in vain to convince them of their error but his words fell on more deaf ears. Rogo wanted to follow them so Scott and Rogo made an agreement (something so few today seem to respect). Scott would go on ahead to see if they could make it through to the engine room. If Scott didn’t return by a certain time, Rogo would lead the group after the other survivors.

More dangers, more losses. They had to go underwater, yikes! Scott once again assumed all the risk by going first and setting up a rope for the others to follow. A piece of debris fell on him, he was trapped. Belle Rosin (Shelley Winters) a former swimming champion who had insisted she go due to her training, jumped in and saved Scott. The stress was too much and she too passed but again her sacrifice saved the others. By the end, many had lost the love of their lives and were broken people. Belle’s husband did not want to go on but was convinced to do so for their grandchild as per Belle’s wishes. Even Scott fumed at God when their path was blocked by venting steam. Scott sacrificed himself to turn it off so the others could continue. The last few survivors made it to the engine room. At first, they seemed trapped with no way to break through the steel hull, then the sound of their salvation. Rescuers were on the other side, they banged the hull, were heard and saved. Their hope was rewarded and no doubt a time of healing was about to begin.

Biblical Parallels

There are several concepts and ideas in this film that mirror the Bible’s message to us.

The passengers were on a journey in the confines of a ship on the ocean.

  • We’re on the journey of life in the confines of our bodies on Earth.

The passengers were unaware of the impending danger, yet there was nothing they could have done to stop the tsunami.

  • Many are living life today with no thought of what’s coming or what will happen after the inevitability of death.

The ship was capsized.

  • The world has fallen from God’s perfection. It too has been struck by disaster because of sin that has turned the world upside down. The results are the many troubles we all face every day.

One who could see the way out and begged everyone to follow was ignored by many.

  • Few choose to follow Jesus, He knows the way we need to go.

For a time they were fine in the ballroom until it was too late.

  • This is a picture of our individual lives on Earth that will end in God’s timing. Many seem to be doing fine without Him. He is very patient and full of grace but time will run out. We best follow Him for ultimate salvation. He knows the way.

Although a short amount of time passed before the ballroom flooded, what if that was not so?

If they had more time and could survive, perhaps many of the people would have become quite comfortable in that ballroom. They may eventually not even notice that they’re upside down and sinking. If they could live there for thousands of years, would future generations even believe the truth of their situation? The majority are not always right.

  • That is a perfect picture of many people living today, unable to even see the truth and need for God’s salvation. It’s why God’s ways are often opposite to the familiar ways of the world and sometimes don’t make sense to us. Those in positions of authority don't always have true wisdom. Ironically, we can see many things are upside down, back to front, inside out and messed up though.

The survivors had to keep moving and overcome many more obstacles.

  • Like them, we need to encourage one another to keep going on this narrow and difficult path because it’s worth it both now on Earth and for eternity.

Sacrifice is often required for salvation which makes some angry at God.

  • This includes many things, including loss. It’s also about giving up one’s desires and ways to follow the one who knows the way out and loves us deeply. The path to our freedom is always paid for by someone. Jesus sacrificed Himself for the salvation of all people. He hears those who call out to Him and can break through any barrier to save and heal us.

Jesus is NOT about "religion" and all the negativity attributed to Him (that’s usually people messing things up). He came in real love to save us all and enter a real relationship with Him. All you need to do is search Him out yourself. He’s waiting for you and will respond to your sincere inquiry. Then you’ll know and life will never be the same. Go for it!

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