The Perfect Storm
Reviewed by David Kashimba

The Perfect Storm, based on Sebastian Junger’s best-selling book, is about the dangerous occupation of commercial fishing. Since fishing first began in Gloucester, Massachusetts about four centuries ago, fishing-related accidents have claimed over 10,000 Gloucester men. A memorial wall in the town lists the dead.

Indeed, much of the imagery in this movie is reminiscent of a war film – brave, hard-working people put themselves in harm’s way to support their families, their community and to satisfy something wild in themselves. While they’re not battling another army or navy, they are battling the elements, which can sometimes be extremely unpredictable.

Based on the true story of a storm involving three raging weather fronts that hit the Gloucester area Oct. 31, 1991, The Perfect Storm focuses on the crew of the Andrea Gail, a sword-fishing boat caught in the storm. Great special effects add to the power of this film, but another key element, adding to it’s authenticity, are the depictions of elements of the Air Force and Coast Guard that took part in rescue efforts during the storm. While these services provided invaluable assistance to the production, it was nothing compared to what they supply to real fishermen everyday.

“Our men use combat skills on a day-to-day basis in rescues,” said Col. Ed Bellion of the Air National Guard. “It’s a dangerous business, but that’s what they practice for – combat and combat rescue. They go behind enemy lines to pick up, say a downed pilot, and weather is just something they have to deal with.”

“Most people we rescue have picked the worst night and the highest seas to be out in,” said Lt. Desmond Casey, a rescue pilot who worked with the production while it filmed at the National Guard base in Pt. Mugu. “So, over-water rescues are always tough because you have a boat that’s bobbing around. You may be holding in space but the boat’s jumping 50 feet up and down. You don’t want the boat hitting the helicopter and you don’t want to be hitting the water, so it can get pretty dicey. And even with night vision goggles, you have absolutely no reference because there is no horizon.” (About two months after working on The Perfect Storm, Lt. Casey died in the line of duty during his civilian job with the police force.)

These military rescue sequences were very well done and gave authenticity to a high-energy film.

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