The Light at the Edge of the World


2h 1971

Brief Synopsis

Pirates take over a lighthouse on a rocky island. They then execute a devious plan to cause ships to run aground, pillaging their wrecks. A lone member of the lighthouse crew survives, and he deperately fights their plot. A shipwrecked maiden that avoids the pirates slaughter soon complicates the situation.

Film Details

Also Known As
Jules Verne's The Light at the Edge of the World, The Light at the End of the World, The Lighthouse at the End of the World, The Lighthouse of Finisterre
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jul 1971
Premiere Information
New York opening: 16 Jul 1971
Production Company
Jet Films; The Bryna Company; TriumFilm
Distribution Company
National General Pictures Corporation
Country
Spain and United States
Location
Cabo de Creus, Girona, Cataluña, Spain; Cadaeques, Girona, Cataluña, Spain; Cadaques, Girona, Cataluña, Spain; La Manga del Mar Menor, Murcia, Spain
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Le phare du bout du monde (The Light at the Edge of the World) by Jules Verne (Paris, 1905).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

In 1865, retired sea captain Andrew Moriz maintains a critically located lighthouse on an island off Cape Horn along with two assistants, young Felipe Mendoza and a taciturn, mysterious middle-aged American, William Denton. The day after the departure of a naval vessel, Denton, Felipe and his pet Capuchin monkey Mario go hunting and kill a mountain goat. Delighted to have fresh meat several days before the regular food delivery made by a relief ship, the pair are abruptly summoned by Moriz. Explaining that a schooner flying a distress flag is headed toward their cove, the captain orders Denton to remain at the lighthouse, while he takes Felipe to greet the incoming ship. Through a looking glass, Denton surveys the motley crew of the schooner only to be horrified moments later when the men abruptly fall upon the welcoming Moriz with knives, a sword and an ax. The men then chase a terrified Felipe around the deck before hauling him up the mast by the ankles and stabbing him. Denton dashes outside to the safety of the rocky terrain, where he watches the schooner's pirate crew unload several crates and a flailing white stallion onto a smaller boat that is rowed to shore. A little later, to Denton's surprise, the pirate's leader, Jonathan Kongre, having examined the lighthouse logs, uses a bullhorn to call out to the American by name and declare that Denton will be blamed for the murders of Moriz and Felipe. That evening, Denton is cheered when Mario rejoins him. The next morning, however, unable to find the little monkey, Denton wanders about and locates him near a cave entrance. Exploring inside, Denton finds the cave, which looks out over on the harbor, a perfect hideaway. The next morning, Mario abruptly scampers away and going in search of him, Denton is quickly caught by the pirates, who take him to the cottage by the lighthouse. There Kongre introduces himself, before encouraging his men, led by the perverse Virgilio, to torment Denton by hanging him upside down from a hook on the side of the lighthouse. Recovering a photograph that falls from Denton's clothes, Virgilio uses it to further mock him, then another pirate, Tarcante, holds up the captured Mario, whom he then brutally slays. After letting Denton down, the pirates conduct him to Kongre who, on horseback, chases Denton across the island. In desperation, Denton heads toward a cliff and leaps into the sea. While thrashing wildly to survive, Denton remembers his reason for coming to the island: Once a successful gold prospector, Denton befriends an amiable gambler, but unwittingly falls in love with the man's fiancée, Emily Jane. Soon after the gambler and Emily Jane wed, the man is involved in a drunken dispute in a saloon and when Denton attempts to intervene, draws on him, forcing Denton to kill him in self-defense. Fleeing the law and the heartbroken Emily Jane, Denton sought refuge on the distant island. In the present, Denton swims to shore and recovers in the cave. At nightfall, Denton creeps outside and notices numerous lamps dotting a path leading to the far end of the island and he realizes the pirates have taken the large lighthouse lamp and set up a beacon that will lead all ships directly onto the reef. Noticing a ship's sails in the darkness, Denton watches helplessly as the vessel crashes into the rocks and its terrified passengers struggle ashore before the ship founders. The pirates decimate the survivors as they reach the beach and, overcome, Denton rushes to the shore, pulls a wounded man aside and helps him to safety. At sunup as the pirates strip the bodies of the dead and break open the floating cargo, a lone female survivor is found and taken to Kongre. The woman identifies herself as Lady Arabella Ponsenby, and Kongre escorts her to the cottage. Meanwhile, Denton and the rescued man, ship engineer Giuseppe Montefiore, come upon a cave filled with plunder and realize the pirates have used the island for some time. Later, while Virgilio leads several pirates on a wild dance across the rocks, Arabella accepts Kongre's offer of clothing and food. Kongre then shows Arabella the photograph taken from Denton that portrays a couple, and points out the resemblance between Arabella and the woman, Emily Jane. Kongre hopes to use Arabella to lure Denton out of hiding because he is the only witness to the fates of Moriz and Felipe, as well as ship's passengers. Fearful that Kongre will kill her because she witnessed the passenger massacre, Arabella agrees to pose as Emily Jane. That afternoon, Kongre orders canons set up on shore for target practice in preparation of attacking the relief ship when it arrives. Using the bullhorn, one of the pirates calls Arabella, addressing her as Emily Jane, startling Denton in his cave. That night the pirates attempt to lure another ship onto the reef, but under pressure from Montefiore, Denton joins him in overpowering the guards at the lighthouse and relighting the tower's beam in time to warn the ship away. Noticing lights in the cottage, Denton sneaks there to confront "Emily Jane," and realizing he has been fooled, departs disappointed. Discovering one of the victims of Denton's latest assault was his private young body servant, Kongre leads a burial service for the youth, whose body is carried to the mountain top and set ablaze. Taking advantage of the pirates' absence, Denton and Montefiore pile up the plundered goods in the cave. While Denton returns to the cottage to rescue Arabella, Montefiore waits for dusk to set the treasure pile ablaze, but he is captured by a pirate who is on his way to the cave. In the cottage, Arabella confesses that she is not Lady Ponsenby, but her maid who hoped to stay alive by lying about her identity. After Denton kills an investigating guard, Arabella refuses Denton's rescue offer, insisting she is safer with Kongre. Returning from the hills, Kongre spots the great fire made by the treasure pile which dwarfs the pirate's light at the end of the island. Upon finding the dead guard in the cottage, Kongre realizes Arabella has betrayed him by letting Denton escape. The next morning, Denton sees Montefiore and Arabella on the deck of the schooner. The pirates hoist Montefiore onto the mast and proceed to flay him until Denton shoots the engineer to spare him further suffering. When Arabella protests the barbaric action, Kongre turns her over to Virgilio and the others, who attack her. Finding her screams unbearable, Denton goes to the canons that are loaded and aimed at the harbor and sets them off, destroying the schooner and all on board. Realizing Kongre has fled to the lighthouse, Denton follows. Kongre throws whale oil and kerosene at Denton hoping to set him on fire, but a lamp starts a fire below the supply room igniting several barrels of oil that explode and kill the pirate. Denton manages to escape and later spots the relief ship on the horizon.

Film Details

Also Known As
Jules Verne's The Light at the Edge of the World, The Light at the End of the World, The Lighthouse at the End of the World, The Lighthouse of Finisterre
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jul 1971
Premiere Information
New York opening: 16 Jul 1971
Production Company
Jet Films; The Bryna Company; TriumFilm
Distribution Company
National General Pictures Corporation
Country
Spain and United States
Location
Cabo de Creus, Girona, Cataluña, Spain; Cadaeques, Girona, Cataluña, Spain; Cadaques, Girona, Cataluña, Spain; La Manga del Mar Menor, Murcia, Spain
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Le phare du bout du monde (The Light at the Edge of the World) by Jules Verne (Paris, 1905).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The opening title card read: Jules Verne's Light at the Edge of the World. Working titles for the film were The Lighthouse at the End of the World, The Light at the End of the World and The Lighthouse of Finisterre. Closing credits indicated that the film's exteriors were filmed at the Cadaques, Club Mediteranee, Cabo de Creus, in Cataluña and La Manga del March Menor, Murcia, Spain. Both the Los Angeles Times review and Filmfacts list the film's running time as 101 minutes. Other reviews and the print viewed were 120 minutes.
       The film had a long pre-production history: A November 1962 Hollywood Reporter news item indicated Columbia Pictures and Gaumont Studios would co-produce The Light at the Edge of the World based on the Verne novel, with German actor Hardy Kruger and French star Jean Marais, and that the production would be filmed in France. In July 1965 Hollywood Reporter reported that Columbia producer Charles H. Schneer would begin the film in early 1966 with a script by James Edward Grant and Beverly Cross under director Andrew McLaglen. Filming was to take place in Malta and Portugal.
       Variety noted in a February 1970 news item that filming had begun at Cape Peñas, Spain with star Kirk Douglas, but also listed Virna Lisi, James Mason and Alan Bates in the cast. A September 1970 Variety news item indicated that Douglas had been joined by Yul Brynner and Samantha Eggar and that M-G-M had made a deal with Douglas' The Bryna Company for worldwide distribution, but in November 1970, Hollywood Reporter announced that National General Pictures had acquired distribution rights for the film.
       In June 1971 a Daily Variety article indicated that a suit had been brought by Lady Rachel Billington, wife of director Kevin Billington, claiming copyright infringement for three screenplays she provided Salkind on The Light at the Edge of the World. In December 1972 Variety published a brief announcement by Barcarola S.A. and Jet Films S.A. stating that the makers of The Light at the Edge of the World would have been willing to grant Lady Billington credit as co-writer were it not for prior contractual agreements. Lady Billington received onscreen credit for "additional dialogue." Modern sources indicate that Verne's novel, which was published posthumously, was inspired by the famous lighthouse on the Argentinian portion of Tierra del Fuego on the island of Islas de Los Estados, which in Spanish was called Faro del fin del mundo or "lighthouse at the end of the world."

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer July 1971

Released in United States Summer July 1971