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The flag in the movie sand pebbles

This movie has action too, but also offers a complex and compelling story about a sailor who finds himself trying to survive in a situation marked by tremendous and sweeping change.

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For the movie takes place in China at a time of political turmoil and unrest when China is beginning to assert its independence from the West. The result is a clash of cultures as the representatives and symbols of Western Imperialist power and influence struggle to preserve and defend their presence in a country that is becoming openly hostile to anything Western. The Chinese want the Westerners to leave.

The Chinese wave their flags, and anyone who cooperates with the Imperialists are treated as traitors and punished accordingly. Yet, Steve McQueen's character is apolitical, which makes his performance that much more notable, compelling and powerful.

He just wants to get by and survive, but is not willing to sacrifice his principles. As a result, Mr. McQueen's character is heroic but without fanfare, which to me makes this movie special.

By the way, wasn't Richard Crenna a great actor? Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote. That project - The Sand Pebbles - is a passable epic set in 1926 China which, while technically well done and colourfully performed, is decidedly on the long side and hampered by irrelevant allegorical links with the Vietnam War.

On the plus side, the film features arguably the best performance ever given by Steve McQueen, and expensively recreates a convincing view of its period and locale despite being shot forty years after the incidents on screen. The film was envisaged as a major "event movie" from the studio, alongside the same year's The Bible: But, despite being up for eight Oscars, the film won in none of the categories the flag in the movie sand pebbles which it was nominated - which tells you everything you need to know.

This is one of those films that looks good, sounds good, tells a worthy story at great length. Collins likes to keep his engine room crew busy, while the officers and deck sailors spend most of their time carrying out combat drills.

However, Holman performs his engine room duties with such conscientiousness and gusto that he gradually alienates himself from most of the other crew members. During their journeys up and down the river, Holman falls in love with a teacher at a mission outpost, the young and beautiful Shirley Eckert Candice Bergen. He also forms a strong friendship with fellow sailor Frenchy Burgoyne Richard Attenboroughwho has saved a Chinese prostitute from a life of vice and degradation by marrying her.

User Reviews

The political situation in the country deteriorates and the crew of the San Pablo find themselves caught up in a difficult situation. Things reach crisis point when a Chinese crew member is captured and tortured because of his allegiance to the Americans.

This act of foolhardy heroism proves to be fatal for many of the San Pablo's beleaguered sailors. The Sand Pebbles is based on a best selling novel by Richard Mackenna, who actually served in the China River Patrol albeit in 1936, ten years after the events depicted in his story. Robert Anderson's screenplay incorporates much of the novel's complexity within its mammoth narrative, but the decision to turn the film into an apologetic Vietnam allegory is not a wise move.

  • They are individuals in their own right, involved in something far greater than their own destinies;
  • After all his trials and suffering, for which the system is responsible, this is a way of avoiding artificial political posturing which can lead to conflict and death;
  • Lieutenant Collins, it would be much better for all of us if you go away at once;
  • I must ask you to leave now;
  • McQueen's character is heroic but without fanfare, which to me makes this movie special;
  • San Pablo is retreating a bit, to extinguish the fire,...

A film like this would be better off dealing with its own period and story, rather than dragging in heavy-handed subtextual meanings.