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Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World 2003

Subtitles

Peter Weir's adaptation of one of the 'Master and Commander' novels by Patrick O'Brian; O'Brian's novels are set during the Napoleonic Wars and feature the character Captain Jack Aubrey.

Starring:
Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany
Runtime:
2 hours, 18 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Military & War, Drama, Action & Adventure, Historical
Director Peter Weir
Starring Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany
Supporting actors James D'Arcy, Edward Woodall, Chris Larkin, Max Pirkis, Jack Randall, Max Benitz, Lee Ingleby, Richard Pates, Robert Pugh, Richard McCabe, Ian Mercer, Tony Dolan, David Threlfall, Billy Boyd, Bryan Dick, Joseph Morgan, George Innes, William Mannering
Studio Twentieth Century Fox
BBFC rating Suitable for 12 years and over
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Yes, even that strange, disparate group of people who are incapable of talking about anything when they meet other than weevils, soused pig's face and tincture of laudanum, even they love this film. I should know, I'm one of them and most of the people I know are too.
Having seen a couple of excerpts of Crowe as Aubrey, I was absolutely dreading this movie but was totally enthralled from the outset. In fact, it wasn't until near the end of the movie when Aubrey & Maturin were walking on deck next to each other that I noticed that Paul Bettany is almost a foot taller than Russell Crowe (stilts for Crowe were in order for that shot).
It's not a word-for-word rendering of the novel onto film by any stretch of the imagination (nor should it have been) but it absolutely captures the spirit of the books and conveys life aboard the Surprise brilliantly. The detail is breath-taking from the ship itself to the behaviour of the crew and on to the wonderful storm and battle action scenes.
To give you an idea of just how pedantic I was being, I was absolutley delighted to see Maturin - like the good Catholic that he is - stopping short of the line "For thine is the kingdom..." during the Lord's Prayer near the end of the film (yes, I know it's sad to actually expend mental energy on such minutiae but, clearly, someone else did too).
My only disappointment was that no allusions were made to Maturin's secret life as an intelligence agent but I guess there's a limit to how much character exposition one can expect in, what I hope, is the first in a series of films. However, other aspects of his character - as Aubrey's best friend, as a great physician and as a fanatical naturalist - are depicted to great effect and humour.
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Format: DVD
Like all O'Brian fans I was eager for this film to appear at the cinema, but was half expecting to be disappointed, as so easily happens when books are adapted for the screen. But I need not have worried. Every care has been taken to keep to the spirit of the books, although not the letter, and the attention to detail is astonishing.

The story itself is very simple. Jack Aubrey's ship Surprise is attacked by a much more powerful ship - the French privateer Acheron - in fog off the coast of Brazil. The ship's company manages to rescue the ship by towing her deeper into the fog, and the rest of the film involves the Surprise chasing the Acheron round the Horn to get her revenge. So, very much a "blokish" film, with no romantic interest (in fact the only time women appear is when some Brazilian boats pull out to trade with the ship, and even then they don't speak). This won't be to everybody's taste, and you will probably get the most out of it if you love the sea and sailing ships.

Put so baldly, the film doesn't seem to have much to recommend it, but its success resides in four things. Firstly the social relations on board ship, especially the friendship between Captain Aubrey and the ship's surgeon Stephen Maturin, which is as central here as it is in the books. Secondly, fine acting by the whole cast. Thirdly the astounding attention to detail. And fourthly the delight in discovering natural wonders.

And for O'Brian devotees, how does it stack up? Well, the story is very much a pick and mix of scenes and events from books throughout the series. The novel The Far Side of the World involves a chase with a US Navy ship.
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2 Comments 56 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Peter Weir is one of the few directors who has, over the years, courted a mass audience whilst retaining artistic integrity. I first encountered his work whilst growing up in his own native Australia. "Picnic at Hanging Rock", while it was always rather frustrating for those who admire the scientific rationalism of a proper detective like Sherlock Holmes, nevertheless provided a showcase for the young director's eye for the beauty of the Australian bush. The timeless "Gallipoli", whilst its plot subscribed to a myth which has long since been disproven by historians, still remains one of the most poignant anti-war films ever made. After Weir's move to America, I still followed him, and was entranced by "Witness", his portrayal of a tough Philadelphia cop exiled by grim necessity in an Amish community, which combines all of the usual features of an action film with the full gamut of unanswered questions about the power of non-violence.
Weir's latest movie has all the hallmarks of similar greatness. It has an excellent pedigree, having been inspired by the novels of Patrick O'Brian, a novelist with a genuine knowledge of Napoleonic history, and of natural history too. O'Brian was capable not only of writing superb novels; he also wrote an erudite and entertaining biography of Sir Joseph Banks, one of the most intelligent of the early European-Australian pioneers. When I first watched this movie, I expected to see something out of the ordinary.
I was not to be disappointed. From the opening scene, in which the seamen slump listlessly inside their hammocks, the inventive camera angles captured life aboard a ship in the Napoleonic wars with an unerring eye for detail, from the grisly surgical scenes to the disastrous attempts to shoot an albatross.
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