Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951)

Article #823 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-16-2003
Posting Date: 11-13-2003
Directed by Albert Lewin
Featuring James Mason, Ava Gardner, Nigel Patrick

A woman who cruelly dallies with her would-be lovers finds love herself when she encounters a man who turns out to be the Flying Dutchman of legend.

Title check: No title problem; both Pandora and The Flying Dutchman are the central characters here.

This movie has some beautiful cinematography, is well acted by everyone concerned (particularly the always-great James Mason), has some striking visual moments, and is well-written. Yet, for all that, I found myself somewhat disappointed by this romantic fantasy; though I can appreciate what’s happening on an intellectual level, it’s somewhat distant and unapproachable, and never really strikes any emotional chords. This in itself would not be a problem, but since the main theme of the movie is that true love will call forth the greatest of sacrifices, one would expect a more passionate, emotional style rather than the one used here. This, combined with the length of the movie (just over two hours), contributes to my inability to really get lost in the story and to really feel for the characters. The only time the movie really takes off is during a party sequence on a beach full of old statues, and this sequence even feels a little out of place.


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