'The Perfect Storm' Synopsis

In the fall of 1991,
the Andrea Gail left Gloucester, Mass.
and headed for the fishing grounds
of the North Atlantic.

Two weeks later, an event
took place that had never occurred
in recorded history
The sound of the wind in a storm is distinct at each level of severity.

Force Nine is a scream. Force Ten is a shriek. Force Eleven is a moan. Force Twelve is a church organ played by a child: its fierce winds inhaling air, water, earth and everything humankind puts within its reach. No one who has heard it can possibly ever forget it.

On Halloween of 1991 there was such a sound. There was such a storm.

WOLFGANG PETERSEN directs and produces, with PAULA WEINSTEIN and GAIL KATZ, "The Perfect Storm," an epic drama based on SEBASTIAN JUNGER's best-selling book, starring GEORGE CLOONEY, MARK WAHLBERG, DIANE LANE, WILLIAM FICHTNER, KAREN ALLEN, ALLEN PAYNE and BOB GUNTON, with MARY ELIZABETH MASTRANTONIO and JOHN C. REILLY. Based on a true story, the film tells of the courageous men and women who risk their lives every working day, pitting their fishing boats and rescue vessels against the capricious forces of nature.

Their worst fears are realized at sea on Halloween of 1991, when they are confronted by three raging weather fronts which unexpectedly collide to produce the greatest, fiercest storm in modern history - the perfect storm.

For centuries, Gloucester, Massachusetts, has been one of the major fishing ports in the North Atlantic. "The Perfect Storm" is a dramatic presentation of events which took place in that region in October 1991, and the main characters in the film are all based on real individuals.

Sebastian Junger's nonfiction account of these dramatic events, The Perfect Storm, remained on the New York Times best seller list for more than a year in its Norton hardcover debut. The HarperCollins paperback edition has been on the best seller list for more than 100 weeks.

Gloucester, Massachusetts, is home to a swordfishing boat called the Andrea Gail, captained by Billy Tyne (Clooney), a veteran fisherman who has had a run of disappointing catches. It docks beside the Hannah Boden, captained by Linda Greenlaw (Mastrantonio), who has been hugely successful with recent hauls.

Bobby Shatford (Wahlberg) has a divorce lawyer to pay off and a new life to build with his girlfriend, Christina "Chris" Cotter (Lane). Fishing is the only job he knows that will pay the kind of money he needs. So, against Chris' wishes, he's going to sign on again with Billy for one last trip this season.

Billy Tyne and Bobby are joined on the trip by Dale "Murph" Murphy (John C. Reilly), a seasoned crewmember trying to support his estranged wife and child; Alfred Pierre (Allen Payne), a free-spirited Jamaican who has a way with women; Bugsy (John Hawkes), a friendly local who just wants someone to come home to; and last-minute replacement Sully (William Fichtner), who shares a volatile relationship with Murph.

Tyne is convinced that he can change his run of bad luck by going beyond the normal reach of New England fishing boats to the Flemish Cap, a remote area known for its rich fishing prospects. Once out at sea, he hears about the storm building offshore. But unlike Greenlaw, who determines to play it safe, Billy thinks he can beat the storm back to Gloucester, taking an enormous catch with him. If he doesn't try, his crew will come away empty-handed on this last trip of the season. It is nothing out of the ordinary for fishermen to wager their lives against their livelihoods.

What is out of the ordinary is the disturbing weather pattern that emerges once the Andrea Gail is out to sea. Local TV weatherman Todd Gross (CHRIS McDONALD) tells his viewers it begins with Hurricane Grace, a powerful southern storm front heading up the Atlantic. Grace is on a collision course with two other weather fronts that are rapidly gathering strength. When the three meet, there will be a storm more terrifying than anyone has imagined, greater than any that has ever been recorded in modern history.

It will come to be called "The No-Name Storm" or "The Halloween Storm," coming as it does on that legendarily fearsome night. In fact, it will form with such suddenness that the National Weather Bureau doesn't have time to call it anything. They barely have time to send out a warning to all vessels at sea.

The crew of the Andrea Gail never receives that warning. They have no forewarning of what is about to hit them.

While the Andrea Gail and other vessels caught at sea struggle to make their way back to shore, another set of personnel carriers are following a course directly into the storm. These are the courageous Air Force and Coast Guard airplane, helicopter and cutter rescue teams who are fully and frighteningly aware of what they are up against.

Comments (1)

  1. Pam Haessler

    Superbly well made film, a tribute by cast and crew to the families and fishermen involved. Not a happy ending of course but you really get involved with the characters, they feel real not "scripted". Two thumbs solidly up. A tribute to the prices paid for the foods we eat without a thought.

    4 years agoby @Pam-HaesslerFlag

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