Theme Song: Veteran composer John Barry composed an orchestral score, which appears throughout the movie so the viewer will know when to be sad.
The closing credit theme song “Letting Go” was performed by Glen Campbell. It’s a sappy song for a sappy movie with sappy instrumentation that I’m not even going to bother uploading.
Interesting Dated References: People writing books about seals; People making movies about seals; People caring about seals; People analyzing movies about seals; Young men caring about a golden seal that isn’t that Golden Seal Tea you keep buying on Amazon to try to pass the piss test for that job you want in shipping.
Best Line: Said with much machismo — “There’s a time and a place for tears … even for men.” Said by wise Aleut fisherman — “Men who owe money have souls that float face down.”
Social Context: There’s a little bit of Alaskan racial/social issues being explored between the white fishermen and the native Aleut population, but it’s superfluous and not very interesting.
Summary: Eric Lee is a lonely boy who is stuck living on an island in the Alaskan wilderness somewhere on the Aleutian Islands. He lives there with his mom Tania, played by Penelope Milford (Coming Home), and his dad Jim, played by our favorite actor ever Steve Railsback (The Stunt Man, Torchlight). Even though it’s a quiet role, you should never forget that Railsback is the best goddamn actor in the world.
So Jim gets his boat ready and takes his son and some local Aleut fisherman into Dutch Harbor for supplies and during the trip the young boy thinks he sees a golden seal. He tells Semeyon, the wise old Aleut who proceeds to tell him about the legend of the golden seal. After they arrive in Dutch Harbor, they head to the local general store which is also a fluorescent-lit coffee shop, gun dealer, appliance dealer, and arcade.
At the store, one of the local drunk caucasian fishermen talks about how a golden seal is worth a fortune. Then one of them tries to imply Jim and his wife are crazy and running away from the world for living on the island. Jim quickly puts a stronghold on the guy, but the fight is broken up.
Then Eric cries because some puppies died since he last visited, then he and his father leave. Later at the fluorescent-lit pet store/coffee shop/gun dealer/appliance dealer/arcade that is also now a bar, fisherman Billy Crawford (Michael Beck, The Warriors, Xanadu, Megaforce) asks Gladys, the owner of the store, about the reward for the golden seal. Gladys is played by Sandra Seacat ,the famous method-acting coach who many actors (including Railsback) have studied under.
She proceeds to tell Billy how some Russian Prince™ put the bounty for a golden seal in a bank and anyone who brings a pelt in can have the bounty.
The next day, the Lee family decide to open a trendy, over-priced restaurant because they have started covering their house in reclaimed, vintage wood. I’m sorry I was mistaken, it turns out there’s a huge storm coming and they are trying to protect it against the wind/hail.
Then father and son go secure a few out-huts that are for various people who may be stranded during the storm. Jim fills his son’s head with nonsense by telling about the time he saw a golden seal, then sends his son off on his own. Big surprise, the young boy wanders off after he thinks he sees a golden seal and thereby gets stranded in the storm.
After his son fails to show up at home, Jim sets out on his own to find him. After he lightly slips on some rocks and falls approximately 12 inches into some water, he decides it is unsafe to go looking for Eric and will wait until morning. Then a bloodied Billy shows up at the Lee residence. Jim helps his wife care for Billy who appears to have had some type of boating accident.
While all of that is going on, Eric hides in a hut which is also occupied by the golden seal who also happens to be giving birth. Whoever did the post production audio on the movie went a little nuts with the seal noises. First off, they put like four layers of seal sound effects when there’s clearly just the one seal. Secondly, they must have accidentally used the sound of Burgess Meredith having an orgasm while dry heaving until he throws up a bunch of milk, because that’s what the seal sounds like.
In the morning, the boy and the seal frolic in the water for what feels like 30 minutes. The sequence goes on and on and half of it is in slow motion. This scene would be really enjoyable if you find love between a boy and a seal enjoyable and/or erotic. Eventually Eric remembers he has parents who may be concerned about him and he runs off.
Jim and Billy, who have been out looking for Eric, see him across the river and commence to rescue him. Since Jim is hurt, Billy has to crawl across a rope to get Eric. This results in a rift between the two men.
Back at home, Billy continues to showboat and fix things around the house. Jim’s line of defense is to grill Billy for awhile about why he’s there, then leave his wife alone with him while he and Eric go wandering around the island.
When father and son find the golden seal and her pup, Jim takes aim and gets ready to fire. Eric jumps in front of the gun and the seals run off. They proceed to have a heated debate about ethics, greed, and manliness. Eventually Jim realizes his son is right and they decide to go home and see how Billy is doing with seducing Jim’s wife.
Unfortunately word has hit the streets about the golden seal. Semeyon’s son Alexi is running around with a spear ranting about how “the seal belongs to his people” and he must kill it. Then Billy manipulates Eric into showing him where the seal is hiding and he immediately tries to shoot it.
Jim shows up and fights with Billy while Eric shoos the seals away. Then Alexi gets ready to stab the shit out of the seal, but Semeyon stops him by grabbing the spear.
Having been almost murdered by everyone they’ve come into contact with, the golden seal and her pup decide they don’t want to live on the island anymore and swim off into the ocean. Eric cries profusely. We’re safe to assume the seals died shortly thereafter.
Poster and Box Art: The rendering on the theatrical poster is questionable. Sure, it’s good airbrushing, but the boy and seal look like they are shooting out of a frozen ocean and covered in ice. It’s creepy. In the lower area of the poster there’s a better illustration of action scenes from the movie. They should have gone with that instead.
Dig this awesome Czech poster. It’s a giant seal sitting on a mound of shit! The shit is probably supposed to be a rock or land, but it’s more enjoyable if we look at it as a big mound of shit.