The movie was produced by a consortium of Scandinavian companies and released in the U.S. in a dubbed English-language version by Walt Disney Pictures.
Shot on location in Fiji, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom, the movie is a dramatization of Norwegian author Oluf Falck-Ytter's book Haakon Haakonsen: En Norsk Robinson (Haakon Haakonsen: A Norwegian Robinson). This adventure story aimed at young readers was inspired by Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and published in 1873.
The film has received favorable reviews as a well-made adventure story for families.
Haakon Haakonsen (Stian Smestad), a young Norwegian boy in the 1850s, becomes the sole support of his family as a cabin boy on a ship after his father is injured. Jens (Trond Peter Stamsø Munch), a family friend and a fellow shipmate of Haakon’s father, becomes an older brother to Haakon on their voyage.
At first, Haakon has a difficult time adjusting to life at sea, but eventually earns the respect of his shipmates while earning the distrust of the first mate - after Haakon catches the first mate with weapons he shouldn't have. The first mate forces him to promise not to reveal to the captain about the guns, and then keeps tabs on Haakon.
Haakon even discovers a female stowaway (Louisa Milwood-Haigh) who turns into a love interest. After the mysterious death of his admired captain and takeover by the first mate (Gabriel Byrne), a suspicious new set of shipmates comes on board. Being on board the ship becomes terrible and Haakon is set to be punished when the new captain finds Mary (the stowaway girl trying to reach her uncle in Calcutta) and punishes whoever helped her. However, before he can be whipped, Haakon survives the sinking of his ship in a terrible storm and wakes up on a deserted tropical island.
After searching the island and discovering treasure as well as wanted posters for an English pirate named Merrick, who looks identical to the new captain and former first mate, Haakon discovers that his suspicious shipmates are pirates.
Following a training with a sword and gun, Haakon even manages to use a horn when a gorilla attacks. Haakon befriends the gorilla. As days pass, Haakon begins to miss his family. One day, Haakon sees smoke from a distant island and tries various attempts to get there on a raft of his own.
Upon successfully arriving there, he finds a bunch of natives doing a night dance. Haakon eventually finds Mary with a bunch of traveling natives. When he sees one of the natives dragging Mary, Haakon springs into action frightening the natives with a gunshot until he backs into Jens who explains that the natives are peaceful and saved his and Mary's lives.
Mary explains that they have been traveling island to island looking for Haakon. As the three leave for the other island the next day, Haakon realizes that the pirates are returning to the island. Haakon and Jens managed to get help from Berg and Steine (Knut Walle and Harald Brenna). Haakon manages to outsmart the pirates and he, Hens, Mary, Berg, and Steine return to Norway.
Haakon reunites with his family and introduces them to Mary and that she will be staying with them for awhile.
- Haakon Haakonson (Stian Smestad) - A Norwegian youth who signs on as cabin boy aboard a ship whose captain is his father's close friend. At first he is shy and timid from years of being teased and picked on because he is poor, but after being stranded alone on the island and forced to survive, he becomes more confident.
- Lt. John Merrick (Gabriel Byrne) - The pirate captain who poses as a member of the English military, he eventually takes over the ship Haakon is on after the original captain mysteriously dies and proceeds to make life difficult for everyone.
- Jens (Trond Peter Stamsø Munch) - Haakon's best friend and a sailor. He sailed with Haakon's father and considers himself Haakon's guardian on the ship after promising Haakon's father to look out for him.
- Mary (Louisa Milwood-Haigh) - A young stowaway searching for her uncle in Calcutta. She escaped from a workhouse in Australia, where she was placed after the death of her parents.
- Berg (Knut Walle) - One of Jens' shipmates.
- Steine (Harald Brenna) - One of Jens' shipmates.
- Directed by Nils Gaup
- Produced by John M. Jacobsen, Nigel Wooll
- Written by O.V. Falck-Ytter (novel)
- Written by Nils Gaup, Bob Foss, Greg Dinner, Nick Thiel
- Music by Patrick Doyle
- Cinematography Erling Thurmann-Andersen
- Editing by Nils Pagh Andersen
- Studio Svensk Filmindustri
- Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
- Release date(s) 1 March 1991 (United States) 3 October 1990 (Norway)
- Running time 92 minutes
- Country Norway, Sweden, United States
- Language English
- Budget 60 million Norwegian Kroner
- Box office $15,104,156
Shipwrecked was nominated for three Young Artist Awards in 1992:
- Best Family Motion Picture — Drama
- Best Young Actor Starring in a Motion Picture — Stian Smestad
- Best Young Actress Co-starring in a Motion Picture — Louisa Haigh