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File:Perfect storm 6583.jpg

The Perfect Storm (2000) is a film by Wolfgang Petersen about the "Perfect Storm" that hit North America in October 1991, and speculates on the fate of the crew of the Andrea Gail, a fishing boat based out of Gloucester, Massachusetts, that was lost in the tempest. It stars George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, William Fichtner, John C. Reilly, Allen Payne, John Hawkes, Diane Lane, Michael Ironside, Karen Allen, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and, in a supporting role, Cherry Jones.

In September 1991, the Andrea Gail returns to port with a poor catch, leading Capt. Billy Tyne to take the boat out for one final fishing run, heading out past their usual fishing grounds. However, when their ice machine breaks, they must hurry back to shore in order to preserve their catch, but they discover that between them and safe harbor lurks a confluence of two weather fronts and a hurricane, creating the titular Perfect Storm. Caught in the teeth of the storm, the crew is forced to fight for their lives and for their only chance to get home...

Another vessel, the private yacht Mistral, gets caught in Hurricane Grace and a helicopter runs out of fuel looking for the Andrea Gail, which leads to a harrowing rescue by the Coast Guard.

The film grossed $182,618,434 in the United States and a further $143,138,203 internationally for a total gross of $325,756,637. It holds a 47% approval rating on critic site Rotten Tomatoes.


The Perfect Storm contains examples of:

  • Artistic License Physics: When the boat goes up the nearly 90 degree wall of water that eventually topples it, they still have no problem standing upright.
  • Anyone Can Die: The entire crew of the Andrea Gail and Sgt. Millard Jones are killed during the storm.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Jones, while rescuing the crew of the Mistral.
  • Cue the Sun: See Hope Spot
  • Coast Guard
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jones, while rescuing the crew of the Mistral, gets in some snarky jokes.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Jones, one of the stranded Coast Guard members, drowns right before things get at there bleakest for the Andrea Gail crew.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • The crew of the Andrea Gail, going straight through a storm they knew was bad to get home with little regard to actually surviving the trip.
    • The helicopter crew, dropping a basket on a line over the heavily-rocking Mistral.
  • Downer Ending: See Trailers Always Spoil.
  • The Film of the Book
  • Foregone Conclusion
  • Foreshadowing: The first scene of the movie shows the wall listing the fisherman lost at sea throughout the centuries.
  • Get It Over With: Most of the crew voluntarily sink with the ship, knowing there is no hope of rescue. Only Bobby makes it to the surface -- and the last view of him is surrounded by 70+ foot swells in the teeth of the storm.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: The rogue wave that ultimately capsizes the boat.
    • The real-life Perfect Storm generated waves recorded at up to 101 feet high. It may never be known if the Andrea Gail (which was only 72 feet long) ever actually encountered any of these monsters, but if she did she would've been in serious trouble.
      • 101 feet would not have been fatal if the Gail were bow- or stern-on to the wave. A "nonnegotiable wave" is two times the opposing beam area (which means the wave that flips the ship at the end of the movie would have had to be one hundred forty-four feet in height).
      • Except the original book explicitly notes that a breaking wave (s wave which is about to topple) can capsize the ship even when it is just above the single opposing beam length, meaning that 80-feet breaker could do the job. Of course, the wave in film IS over three times higher that the ship...
  • Hope Spot: The brief glimpse of the sun they get right before It Got Worse
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Bob Brown, after realizing his pressure on Tyne to make him find fish caused Tyne to drive the Andrea Gail into the storm.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: George Clooney, to his credit, doesn't attempt a Massachusetts accent. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, however, does an accent that is guaranteed to make viewers from Massachusetts cringe. Mark Wahlberg, a Massachusetts native, speaks with his natural accent.
  • Shown Their Work: A goodly portion of the original book details the history and mechanics of Gloucester's fishing industry. Since we don't know exactly what happened in the storm, giving the context and inferring the details from that is the next best thing.
    • The most likely hypothesis from the book was that the boat was pitch-poled, capsized end over end, and the movie reflects that, with the Andrea Gail hitting a monstrous rogue wave, pitch-poling, and sinking.
  • Spin-Off: The book was originally supposed to be a single chapter in a book about dangerous jobs, but as the book's author, Sebastian Junger, learned more about the context of the disaster, the narrative took on a life of its own and was turned into a full-size book.
    • Linda Greenlaw, the only female captain in the American swordfishing fleet and one of the key players in the narrative of both the book and the movie versions of The Perfect Storm[1], wrote a Spiritual Successor of a book called The Hungry Ocean, using as its plot a fishing trip that occurred several years after the events in The Perfect Storm, as a way to show what a typical commercial fishing voyage would look like. She has since gone on to a career as a writer, with several more books having alredy been published.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: The crew engages in nearly every bout of masculinity short of taking a tape measure to the biceps. So much so - and so much of the "reconstructed" story - that several next-of-kin sued over the portrayals (they lost).
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Half the trailers (and most of the posters) showed a huge tidal rogue wave about to eat the boat.
    • Subverted in the case of reviewers, who generally refrained from giving away the ending. One even article openly stated that "for their own reasons, none of the Andrea Gail's original crew have offered comment" on the film's accuracy.

Notes

  1. She's the character Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio portrays
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