This page was created on December 3, 2002
This page was last updated on December 16, 2002

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Many literary scholars believe that Treasure Island ranks among the greatest adventure stories ever written and generations of readers seem to agree with this assessment. Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of pirates, hidden loot, seagoing adventure and a young boy's coming of age had all the right ingredients to capture the imaginations of readers of all ages. And with "Treasure Planet," the filmmakers kept true to that spirit and tradition of storytelling greatness.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1850, Stevenson studied to be a lawyer, but launched a writing career instead. He wrote a short historical tale by age 16 and, within a few years, he began contributing texts to various magazines. Short stories followed and his first published volume, An Inland Voyage (1878), an account of a journey he made by canoe from Antwerp to northern France, showed a knack for colorful storytelling. While traveling on an "inland voyage,"

Stevenson met his future wife, Fanny, an American who was 11 years his senior. His travels to California became the subject of another large-scale work, The Amateur Emigrant (1879-80). While on holiday in Scotland in 1881, Stevenson entertained his twelve-year-old stepson, Lloyd, by drawing a map of an imaginary place called "Treasure Island." The map stimulated the author's imagination and he began to spin a tale to go along with it. Stevenson is said to have written a chapter a day and amused the family by reading it aloud. He drew on real-life occurrences (he had once overheard a conspiracy against his father while hiding in an apple barrel; the John Silver character was based on his close friend, W. E. Henley, an enthusiastic and exuberant man despite his handicap; etc.) in creating his tale.

He was also inspired by his childhood readings (including such favorites as Robinson Crusoe and Tales of a Traveller), his father's lighthouse experiences and his impressions of visiting the California coast. Stevenson originally referred to his story as The Sea Cook but it took on the new title of Treasure Island when it was serialized in the boy's magazine Young Folks between October 1881 and January 1882.

Treasure Island became Stevenson's first novel to appear in book form when it was published in 1883. The book became a huge success and helped to establish the author's reputation for novels of adventure that often involved psychological depth, moral ambiguity and supernatural elements.

His other great novels include Kidnapped (1886), The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and The Master of Ballantrae (1889).

Stevenson was plagued with ill health throughout much of his life, beginning with a bout of tuberculosis as a child that kept him largely bedridden in his early years. Despite his frailty and infirmities, he continued to travel and live life to the fullest. He also remained incredibly prolific, although much of that writing was done from his sickbed. Stevenson made his first South Seas voyage in 1888 and the following year moved with his family to Samoa. It was here that he died in 1894, at the age of 44, after suffering a brain hemorrhage.


The idea for "Treasure Planet" was conceived by Ron Clements nearly 17 years ago. Following their assignment on "Aladdin," that film's co-screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio took Clements' and Musker's ideas and wrote a treatment and script for "Treasure Planet" in 1993. At that point, "Hercules" was on the fast track with Musker and Clements set to write and direct but "Treasure Planet" was set to be their next project.

Clements recalls, "The intriguing thing about Treasure Island is that it contains elements that make you think of a cultural phenomenon like 'Star Wars' is today. Stevenson didn't create a lot of the elements that appear in the story, but he took things that were archetypal and that people really liked and put them all together in this adventure story.

These elements had never really been combined in this way before and it really resonated with readers. It is the ultimate adventure story." "One of the rules on this movie," adds Clements, "was NO magic. This was somehow a universe where there wasn't any magic. Everything that exists has some technological or scientific explanation regardless of how different it might seem from our world. There is a logic to everything that happens."

Musker adds, "In creating our version o the story, Jim was the hardest character to flesh out. We wanted him to be sort of introverted and have the typical problems of a teenage boy but not have that be off-putting in any way. We always pictured him as being at a crossroads in his life. He's a kid who has the potential to do great things with his life. But the potential also exists that he could go in the wrong direction and end up in a lot of trouble. Like all the characters in the film, Jim has a missing piece. He's incomplete in a sense because he is missing a relationship with his father."

One ship drives east and another west,
with the self-same winds that blow;
’tis the set of the sails
and not the gales that determines where they go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
as we voyage along through life;
’tis the set of a soul that decides its goal
—and not the calm or the strife.

What is important is not where you come from but where you are going.


But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God."
--Luke 9:62 -NLT

(Paul writes) God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.
--Philip. 3:14 -Message

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?
--ROBERT BROWNING (1812–1889)

Jesus knew where he had come from, why he was here, and what he was supposed to accomplish. He came down from heaven, not to do his own will, but the will of the Father. That determination controlled every decision he made.
As a result, he was not distracted with trivia. He was never in a hurry, for he knew his Father would not give a task without the time to do it. Christ was not driven by crises, feeling he must heal everyone in Israel. He could say, “It is finished,” even when many people were still bound by demons and twisted by disease. What mattered ultimately was not the number of people healed or fed, but whether the Father’s will was being done. His clearly defined goals simplified his decisions.

The vast neurotic misery of the world could be termed a neuroses of emptiness. Men cut themselves off from the root of their being, from God, and then life turns empty, inane, meaningless, without purpose. So when God goes, goal goes. When goal goes, meaning goes. When meaning goes, value goes, and life turns dead on our hands.
--CARL GUSTAV JUNG (1875–1961)



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