Lord be praised. Hollywood has got it right. Largely
due to a couple of rather clever lads from Australia,
boosted by some great British actors and a whacking
great bankroll from the US.
Russell Crowe's latest epic, Master and Commander:
The Far Side of the World, is a rivetting historical
drama set during the Napoleonic Wars.
Weir's film adaptation of the Patrick O'Brian novels
easily combines realism, with senses-rattling action
and adds in more than its fair share of an appreciation
for history and naval tactics.
hero is Lucky Jack, also known as Captain Jack Aubrey
RN (Russell Crowe) whose ship the HMS Surprise is on
a seek-and-destroy mission against a French privateer
and his crew are battle-hardened and confident, however,
the enemy has a far superior ship and a captain who
seems as good as the hero himself.
and Commander: The Far Side of the World opens with
an awesome example of the horrors of Napoleonic naval
warfare when the 24-gun Surprise is ... surprised by
the 44-gun frigate Acheron.
is eye-averting stuff at times, but the devastation
and horrendous results of 18-pound cannonballs smashing
through wooden hulls and flesh have to be seen to be
the grim nature of wooden ships versus iron men is only
matched by the cramped and almost inhuman conditions
that sailors in the days of fighting sail had to endure.
most historical movies, Master and Commander: The
Far Side of the World has no space between sacking
hammocks to allow friends to chat during the long voyage.
This is a cheek-by-jowl existence where even the officer's
room is barely larger than table-sized.
as for the idea of prim and proper officers, Aubrey's
mob are hard-drinking dinner party guests who release
the tensions of months at sea with drinking until sobriety
is well over the horizon.
are presentable, but not pristine, hair cuts are not
perfectly coiffered and looks and body shapes are not
what you'd expect from Hollywood.
is Aubrey a Hollywood hero. He's brilliant, but fallible,
and when his conscience - good mate and ship's surgeon
Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) - suggests he's possibly
going over the top he is dismissed with a savage curtness.
this adds to his character and the richness of the human
mix in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the
World and shows the heroes of the Royal Navy to
be nothing more than courageous, loyal men.
basic plot of the movie is that Aubrey and his crew
sail to intercept a French frigate that is out to sink
as many British merchant and whaling ships as it can.
begins with the ambush off Brazil and then continues
on a long and exciting pursuit around the vicious Cape
Horn and all the way to the Galapagos Islands.
the way the crew of the Surpise has to deal with a host
of exciting perils, wonderful discoveries and personal
all, however, there is the wonderfully plotted game
of cat and mouse between Aubrey and the unseen captain
of "the phantom" Acheron.
is mentally stimulating and will have the adrenalin
pumping to boot.
it will make art lovers weep with pleasure as almost
every shot is a perfect blend of framing and focus.
actor involved is superb and while the focus is usually
on either Crowe or Bettany the support cast threatens
to steal the show all over the place. George Innes,
in particular, is one of the best superstitious old
salts you could ever wish for.
and Commander: The Far Side of the World is possibly
the best movie ever made about the Napoleonic Wars and
one can only hope that Hollywood turns its attention
to a period in history that is teeming with more adventures
and characters than there are fish in the oceans.
and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a must-see
adventure that one hopes is only the beginning of a
wonderful new cinematic era.
20th Century Fox's marketing and publicity departments
responsible for promoting the movie Master and Commander:
The Far Side of the World in Australia lent no assistance
whatsoever to The Napoleonic Guide.
repeated efforts on our part - those areas seemed so
mainstream-oriented (read Internet ignorant) that we
were unable to get even a brief talk with Russell Crowe
on behalf of the 140,000+ Napoleonic Era fans who visit
us each month.
not mention the fact that they did not even send out
media kits or have the courtesy to inform us - despite
phone calls - about the date of the movie's Australian
20th Century Fox should move into the modern world and
realise that not everyone watches commercial television,
reads half-day old newspapers or doctor's waiting room
Russell Crowe website
O'Brian Film Page