Art & Design Magazine

I’ll Be Living the Life of Riley

By Told By Design @toldbydesign

From the time Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, man has vainly sought to find solace, comfort and earthly pleasures in an artificial world of his own creation.
Down through the ages has come that eternal heritage—the urge in every man to turn his back on so-called civilization, to get back to nature and revel in the glories and freedom of a primitive paradise.

This texts serves as an introduction to Edward Sutherland’s “Mr. Robinson Crusoe”, a film revisiting Daniel Defoe’s novel. While sailing French Polynesia, yatchman Steve Drexel (Douglas Fairbanks) points out that he “would like to get off on an island like that with nothing but a toothbrush, [...] and fight the battle of nature against man with [his] bare hands”, and make Robinson Crusoe myth a reality.
So he bets his friends: “I bet you when you get back I’ll be living the life of Riley, and you bet that I’ll be tied to a stick.”

Edward Sutherland - Douglas Fairbanks - Mr. Robinson Crusoe - Handmade objects and house

Using only what nature has to offer him, Mr. Drexel manages to make all kinds of objects, devices and mechanisms and build a house with all the facilities, including hot running water. There are two sources for his knowledge in this matter: “I’ve been a Boy Scout and I read Dan Bears’ Handybook“, he says.

Edward Sutherland - Douglas Fairbanks - Mr. Robinson Crusoe - Dog and goat rotation mechanism

One of the more descriptive scenes in the film is the makig of an ax: “This is the first labour-saving device known to man. Man found it useful in a hundred ways. A hundred ways to use it. No nails, no screws, no spikes. Nothing to deceive you.”

Edward Sutherland - Douglas Fairbanks - Mr. Robinson Crusoe - Wood stick and stone to build an ax


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