Directed by Ridley Scott, ‘White Squall’ is a coming-of-age film that centers around 12 high school students who sign up for a sailing ship training program. The teenage boys go through several months of training and travel half the globe in a brigantine when suddenly they are faced with a severe storm. As the young boys set on the journey to explore the sea and step into adulthood, this ill-fated voyage brings tremendous loss and challenges for them.
Released in 1966, the movie stars Jeff Bridges as the captain ‘Skipper’, Caroline Goodall as his wife Alice Sheldon, and Scott Wolf as Chuck Gieg, and is produced by Mimi Polk Gatlin and Rocky Lang. The movie takes the viewers on a ride with the teenage sailors who butt heads against each other and slowly learn to become shipmates. As they set to sail on Albatross, viewers cannot help but be captivated by the story and realistic portrayal of the misadventures. Viewers have also wondered if the story is inspired by real-life events. Let’s explore the truth!
Is White Squall a True Story?
Yes, ‘White Squall’ is based on a true story. The movie is based on the tragic events of a brigantine named Albatross that sunk in 1961 due to an alleged white squall. The story also takes inspiration from the book ‘The Last Voyage of the Albatross (1962)’ penned by Albatross survivor Charles Gieg, which contains records of the same event. The screenplay of the movie is written by Todd Robinson who is known for his works in ‘Lonely Hearts’ and ‘The Last Full Measure.’ Adapted from true events the movie is set in a time when the Cold War was creeping up and young boys were struggling to find their place in society.
The movie primarily focuses on the events that happen on the sail and the horrific incident that drowned the ship which included 12 students, a crew of 3 adults, and the captain. In the uncertain times, these young boys were sent to toughen up and gain life experiences right after high school. Throughout the voyage, the tough Skipper trained the boys at sailing and tried to unite them, while the teachers trained them on various subjects including science and maths. After many mishaps on land and on board the boys slowly begin to work as a team.
Mid voyage Albatross was put on shore for the boys to take a leave on the island. After getting into some trouble with the Skipper one of the students, Frank was expelled from the program and was bid farewell on the next port. As the ship crossed the equator, they all seem hopeful about the future and gained some confidence in their skills. But all the hope quickly turns to dust as a rogue wave strikes Albatross and completely capsizes the ship. The students try their best to use the skills they were taught to survive in the huge waves and somehow hold on to whatever they can, but few didn’t make it through. This horrific incident took the lives of six people on board, four students, and two crew members. After the survivors were rescued, they were taken to Florida where their testimonies were recorded. In the court, the Skipper accepted responsibility and took all the blame for the sinking of Albatross. The captain was asked to turn in his master seaman’s certificate, but his students stood by to support him.
The very realistic portrayal of the incident, bought the event alive on screen. The magnificent waves in the movies, truly give the viewers a glimpse of the horrors that the entire crew and students on Albatross faced. Ridley Scott very beautifully depicts the courage and the willpower that Albatross’s crew exhibited during their voyage.