The Little Ark (1972)

Article 3116 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-7-2009
Posting Date: 2-23-2010
Directed by James B. Clark
Featuring Genevieve Ambas, Philip Frame, Max Croiset
Country: USA
What it is: Children’s adventure film

Two adopted children in Holland are trapped in the steeple of a church with their pets after a storm causes the dikes to break. They manage to board a boat that drifts close to the steeple, and they go in search of their father.

At one point in this movie, a captain tells the children a story about a woman who is transformed into a mermaid, and the story is shown via animation. This constitutes the sole fantastic content of the movie, so it’s pretty marginal from that standpoint. As for the movie itself, I find it easy to believe it does have some impact, especially if you saw it when you were a kid. As an adult, I find its power somewhat compromised by the problems. It’s obviously based on a novel, and there are moments where you see the movie struggling and not quite succeeding in bringing certain aspects of the story to life. Nor was I particularly impressed by the performances of the two children; though they go through some very real (and even a bit shocking) adventures, they themselves never quite feel real. It occasionally belabors some of the heartstring-tugging, which isn’t necessary; the story itself is moving without that extra pushing. It was an independent film with mostly unknown Dutch and English actors; the only familiar name to me was Theodore Bikel, who does quite well. The theme song was nominated for an Oscar, but if you’re like me, you’ll get awfully tired of it before the movie is over.

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