Treasure Island Synposis
Edinburgh 1862. At the age of 24 the author Robert Louis Stevenson has a dream in which he sees himself as a child listening to his father telling a story about a ship which had been attacked 100 years before. Shortly afterwards the ship’s captain, Nathaniel Flint, shoots Ben Gunn, the galley boy, because he has seen how Flint buried the jointly owned treasure and killed four witnesses.
Louis Stevenson wakes up in his parents’ house in Edinburgh after a severe bout of coughing. He then has a fierce argument with his father who intends his son to become a lawyer. Contrary to his father’s wishes, Louis insists on his plan to become an author and, without warning, leaves for Paris. In France he joins an artists’ community in Fontainebleu where, a group consisting of painters, writers and their muses who live out their ideals of freedom and creativity. An American woman called Fanny Osbourne and her son, Lloyd, take a room in the boarding house because she plans to dedicate herself to painting. Louis manages to persuade the male-dominated group to let Fanny stay, but she is offended because she feels that he has impinged on her independence.
However, the next day Louis succeeds in winning the trust of her son, Lloyd. They discover that they both love pirate stories and Louis starts to develop the story of the mysterious treasure island which he dreamt of at the beginning. He is brought back down to earth again by another rejection from a publisher. When Fanny unexpectedly enters the room he tells her that he feels that his plans to become an author are destined to fail. Fanny encourages him to continue and gives Louis the strength to believe in his dreams by pointing out Lloyd’s enthusiasm for the story Louis has begun to tell him.
He immediately returns to writing the adventure of the “Treasure Island” and creates the scene in the harbour inn “The Admiral Benbow” which then appears on stage. Fanny takes on the role of Mrs Hawkins, the widowed landlady, Lloyd becomes her son, Jim who is being taught by Dr. Livesey, personified by Louis. When Dr. Livesey leaves the dubious character Billy Bones enters and takes lodging at the “Admiral Benbow”. Some days later Blind Pew enters the inn and it becomes clear that the two men are pirates. Pew argues with Bones about the inheritance of the deceased Captain Flint which he believes to be in Bones’ possession.
Bones has a fatal heart attack and, soon after, Pew and other pirates rummage through Bones’ scanty possessions without finding anything. The pirates are thrown out by Dr. Livesey and Judge Trelawney. In the melee Pew is trampled by a horse and also dies. Unnoticed by the pirates, the object that they are so keen to get their hands on has been pocketed by Jim – Captain Flint’s legendary treasure map. The wealthy judge Trelawney decides to finance an expedition to the island and Jim, the owner of the map, persuades his mother to allow him to travel with Dr. Livesey.
The story is interrupted when Louis (at this moment in the role of Dr. Livesey ) has a severe coughing fit. In the meantime, Louis and Fanny have developed a loving relationship, but she nevertheless persuades him to go back to Edinburgh to consult his doctor. On his return he is once more confronted with his father’s lack of understanding and his mother takes him to task for starting a love affair with a married mother. Undeterred, Louis continues the story of “Treasure Island” and sends Lloyd the next chapter by post. Enthralled, Lloyd reads the next episode of the story in which Judge Trelawney is looking for a ship and crew in Bristol. When Jim is assaulted in the street a one-legged seaman saves him and introduces himself as Long John Silver. Silver is the person who has been instructed by Trelawney to find a ship and crew for the expedition. In the harbour inn “The Spyglass” they get to know the other crew members and then meet Captain Smollett, the honourable captain of the ship. He is played by Louis Stevenson’s father.
The young author enjoys mocking his father’s authoritarian ways when he takes on the role of the captain, but in reality, during teatime at his parents’ house, the situation is different. Louis’ father threatens to disinherit him when his wife tells him about his son’s liaison with Fanny. Louis’ mother gives him money because she has a bad conscience about having revealed the secret of the love affair to her husband, but Louis then receives bad news: Fanny has gone back to America where she intends to give her marriage another chance. However, Louis is no longer prepared to let his life be determined by others and decides to follow her to America. He boards the “Indiana” to New York and at this moment the story of “Treasure Island” breaks in and the character changes to Dr. Livesey boarding the “Hispaniola”.
The adventure takes its course at both the real and fictional levels.
The “Hispaniola” is making good progress towards “Treasure Island” when it is hit by a storm. At the same time the “Indiana”, which is on course to New York with Louis Stevenson on board, also comes into a storm. It becomes clear that the two stories are running parallel. Long John Silver increasingly takes Jim Hawkins into his confidence knowing that Jim has the treasure map. After Silver allows Jim to join the wild carousing on deck he starts to take on the role of a father figure for him (the father figure is missing for both Jim in “Treasure Island” and for Lloyd in San Francisco, the city he has returned to with Fanny). Fanny’s hope that she could bring the family back together is once more crushed as Lloyd’s father, Sam, leaves the family again. Fanny’s attempts to comfort Lloyd are in vain and she sympathises with his yearning to return to France.
Meanwhile events are coming to a head on the “Hispaniola”. It turns out that a large number of the crew belonged to Flint’s old crew and they want to get the treasure back which they feel they have been swindled out of. When the island is in sight, the pirates mutiny and take over command from Captain Smollett. They take Smollett and Trelawney prisoner, but then realise that during the struggle Jim has set off towards the island with the map. The pirates follow him and let Dr. Livesey, who has a gunshot wound, back on deck. Louis Stevenson arrives in New York in bad health, but, nevertheless, continues his journey on towards San Francisco.
In the yard behind Lloyd’s house in San Francisco four neighbours condemn Fanny for leading a depraved life, but they are actually envious of her liberal attitudes. Just as they turn to Lloyd feigning sympathy, Louis suddenly appears and confuses the women by making up a story which he improvises with Lloyd’s help. Overjoyed, they greet each other, but Fanny is less enthusiastic about Louis’ arrival as she has not been warned that he was coming. Fanny is emotionally overcharged by the situation and turns him away. Louis is totally shaken by Fanny’s reaction. He is already weakened by the tiring journey and now he feels that it was all for nothing. His only comfort in this desperate situation is his writing and his pain flows into the story. He identifies himself with the character Ben Gunn who he has encountered in his dream at the beginning when the galley boy is shot by Flint. Louis Stevenson now takes on the role of Ben Gunn and tells the story of how he survives the gunshot wound and then lives as a castaway on the island. When his former comrades return to the island, he swears vengeance on them.
Led by the hot-tempered ship’s mate, Israel Hands, the pirates comb the island searching for Jim, and more particularly the treasure map. Jim only comes out of hiding and hands over the treasure map when Silver threatens Judge Trelawney with a burning stake. The young boy now despises Silver who he feels has betrayed him.
However, finding the treasure is not that easy: the place marked on the map is rocky and it is impossible to dig there. The pirates discover the right place when Jim draws their attention to the mouth of a cave. The cave seems strange: the skeletons of the four former comrades are propped up on the ground and suddenly Ben Gunn, who they had believed to be dead, appears in front of the horrified men. Ben Gunn reveals the treasure chest which is hidden in a cleft in the rocks and Hands hurls himself on it, only to be shot by Trelawney who has grabbed a pistol from one of the pirates. The greedy judge sinks in the lava flow of a volcano that erupts at this moment and takes the gold down with him – the pirates’ hope of riches die with him, but Ben Gunn gets his revenge.
Dejectedly, the men return to the “Hispaniola”. Meanwhile Dr. Livesey has recovered from his gunshot wound. When Smollett refuses to sail back to England under Silver’s command, the pirate agrees to be put in chains for the duration of the journey and thus persuades the captain to take over command for the return journey. Livesey’s questions regarding Jim are left unanswered and he calls out for him. The two stories now become entwined.
Back in Edinburgh, Louis is honoured by the mayor at a civil reception: his novel “Treasure Island” has now become a worldwide bestseller. The situation turns sour when Louis points out that Lloyd played an important part in the development of the story. The citizens attending the reception begin to loudly remonstrate against his relationship to Fanny which they see as indecent. Louis exposes the double moral standards of those present and refuses to accept their accolades.
This incident confirms the decision he has made to set off with Fanny and Lloyd to seek freedom in a faraway place. He says goodbye to his parents and Louis is reconciled with his father who recognises his success and allows him to lead his life independently. Before leaving Louis arranges for Lloyd to be able to say goodbye to his father. On boarding the “Hispaniola” again they once more meet Silver, but this time in the persona of Sam Osbourne. The father and son are also reconciled and parallel to this, in the “Treasure Island” story, the boy grants Silver his freedom.
Freed from the burdens of the past Louis, Fanny and Lloyd can begin their future together – like the pirates they sail off out into the open sea.