View Full Version : Master and Commander

Jack Heinlen
06-15-2004, 11:20 PM
I watched it last night.

I liked the sense of shipboard life, the seemingly realistic portrayal of 19th century ship battles, the comradarie portrayed. It's nice to see a British Captain more or less 'one of the boys' while still holding respect by reason of his superior skill rather than a rope end. The acting was pretty good too.

The plot left something to be desired. I can't put a finger on it, but at the end Archeron is captured and that's it. The classic climax of plotting is done well, but then the film dies.


P.S. I've not read the book(s).

06-15-2004, 11:55 PM
Ahhh ... but the Archeron's Captain is still in play! There's more to do for King & Country. I'd like to see further film adventures of the Surprise & Lucky Jack.

Keith Wilson
06-16-2004, 12:08 AM
I liked it quite a lot when I first saw it, but it didn't last. It's OK, with good ship shots, but no better, although Russel Crowe got Jack Aubrey pretty well. You see only about 10% of Stephen's character, though, and half of Jack's. Read the books, if you haven't. They're several orders of magnitude better

06-16-2004, 12:35 AM
Of course it is flawed, but it is still the very best movie from the age of sail that I know of. I think that Peter Weir's decision to focus on the ship and life aboard the ship was brilliant. No politics, no ballrooms, no big haired women or men in powdered wigs and painted faces. Just the ship and the men who worked her. Brilliant.

Yes, there were some holes in the plot, but it was still a fine film. I have seen it at least ten times, now. My wife just looks at me and shakes her head because I laugh every time I see the cabin scenes where the officers are having their dinner. Weir and, especially, Russell Crowe bring so much humanity to this movie. I thought that Crowe played the part perfectly.

By the way, as I read the books I had always imagined Jack Thompson playing Aubrey, with Jonathan Pryce as Maturin. That would have been a great cast. Probably my biggest problem with the casting was that Maturin (Paul Bettany) was too big, and that Barrett Bonden (the little guy from TLOR) was too small. And Maturin was supposed to be Catalan/Irish, for goodness sakes. But I guess that that would have required an explanation and would have just complicated matters.

Oh well. I hope that they do another one, but I have a feeling that they won't. Crowe doesn't strike me as the kind of guy that would like to do a sequel. Well, we can hope.

Mickey Lake

06-16-2004, 01:22 AM
"Horatio Hornblower" with Gregory Peck was a far better story than the film version of "Master and Commander", and the special effects where pretty good for a 50's era movie. It was also more relatively faithful to Forrester's books although it rushed a bit to get it all in.

martin schulz
06-16-2004, 01:30 AM
Originally posted by Meerkat:
[QB]"Horatio Hornblower" with Gregory Peck was a far better story than the film version of "Master and Commander", and the special effects where pretty good for a 50's era movie.There is something about those older movies that often made them more...epic.

I can't put my finger on it, but perhaps it's because older movies dared to have some minutes were nothing is happening. Since "Speed" I always get the feeling that Directors are forced to show some action on every filmmeter.

06-16-2004, 01:42 AM
I have a copy of the Gregory Peck movie, and enjoy it very much, but I don't think that you can compare the two films. They are not the same kind of movie. I think that one of the problems with M&C is that the studio didn't know what to do with it as far as promotion goes. 'Gladiator' on a boat? Nah. It is not really an epic-type film. It is more of a character study, although I grant that they did not develop the characters enough to really study them. I understand that many didn't think that the plot was deep enough. You are right. It wasn't. But darn it, at least they tried.

I have seen people posting here that they far prefer the HH television series to M&C. Fine. To each his own. The same people probably enjoyed Forrester's spare style in comparison to the word-painting of O'Brian. Having read them both, I prefer O'Brian, and I prefer the movie M&C over either Gregory Peck or Ion Gruffud (sic?). Just personal preference.

Honestly, I think that I enjoyed the 'Ramage' books by Dudley Pope more than either the Aubrey or Hornblower series. The writing just seemed to click with me.

Cheers. Mickey Lake

06-16-2004, 07:37 AM
Master and commander?! I never even KISSED her! :D

06-16-2004, 10:33 AM
I just saw that Sunday night ... not bad, some neat things and emotions captured, I feel.

But it all just kind of ended ... sequel I guess??

06-16-2004, 01:35 PM
It drifted around the doldrums with unnecessary sub plots that took away from the high seas adventure. It would have done better if it had borrowed a bit from WW II classics that kept the focus on 'our' warship and its venerable commander vs 'their' warship and its equally cagey boss. Most good guy/bad guy movies work best when we are given some kind of intimate view of the villian as well. I hope in a sequel they don't muck it up with a lot of wimin and love interest thinking that was what was missing in the first.

06-16-2004, 03:46 PM
I'm sorry you guys didn't like. I loved it and give it 2 thumbs up.


Garrett Lowell
06-16-2004, 03:51 PM
I thought the movie was great, and I wish I'd seen it on the big screen instead of the TV.

06-16-2004, 03:55 PM
Seen it both places and its good either way.

Was nosing around the bookstore the other day and noticeted that they have the book out from the movie. I was wondering if it follows the movie or is it just the same as the orginal book. I know the movie borrows it's title from 2 seperate books, but the book they had on the shelf was labeled "Far Side of the World" and had the movie stuff on it. I guess I should have read some of the passages and compared it to the orginal book.


06-16-2004, 03:57 PM
The two differnt books.



Keith Wilson
06-16-2004, 04:12 PM
There are twenty (yes, twenty!) books in O'Brian's amazing Aubrey/Maturin series, starting with Master and Commander and ending with Blue at the Mizzen. Itís really one enormous continuous novel, following Jack and Steven's lives over twenty years or so. There is also part of a 21st that he never finished, but which I think Norton will publish this year. The movie takes characters and bits and pieces of plot from several of the books, adds some stuff of its own, and tries to assemble it into a more-or-less coherent whole.

If you're just starting the series (and God, do I envy you in that case) start with Master and Commander and if you like it, work your way in sequence through all twenty. It's much easier to understand if you read them in order - think of the books as chapters, really. The plot of M&C doesn't resemble the movie at all, but it's really good.


The cover shows the brig Sophie in Port Mahon, Majorca. Jack doesn't command the Surprise until book three. I was probably too hard on the movie. If I hadn't read the books yet, I probably would have loved it. It's hard not to compare, and the movie comes up kind of short.

[ 06-16-2004, 05:19 PM: Message edited by: Keith Wilson ]

06-16-2004, 04:14 PM
Keith, I have read the entire series and loved it. I would like to get the un-finished version. Read about a couple of months ago. Of course I don't know if I would like being left hanging.


Jack Heinlen
06-16-2004, 04:15 PM
I liked it too, just felt the ending a bit abrupt. I thought it had plenty of slow vignettes, the doctor and the captain playing duets, the doctor doing his naturalist schtick, the crew singing shanties and dancing, gathering below decks to talk about the Jonah.

Jim's observation that it needed some more of the French is valid I think.

The observation that they left the end ready for a sequel makes sense.

All in all it's very much worth a look. Definately a 'guy' film. smile.gif

I tried to read one of the books but didn't care for the style. May have to try again. Anyone care to recommend a favorite, or do you have to start at the beginning?

06-16-2004, 04:17 PM
Jack, start at the beginning and you will not be disapponted.


Jack Heinlen
06-16-2004, 04:22 PM
Oh the other thing I wondered, and maybe some of the ship historians will know, is it reasonable that Suprise could fool a wiley French captain into thinking he was chasing a whaler? I think of American whalers of a slightly later period, and they were pretty distinctive.

Keith Wilson
06-16-2004, 04:31 PM
Oh, sorry, I misunderstood your question completely. AFAIK the book is the original. I don't thing they would have dared publish a novelization of the screenplay; O'Brian fans would have burned down the publisher's offices!

And Jack, I'd suggest you try it again. Approach it at first as if it were really an early 19th century novel, like Marryat. O'Brian was in some respects only partially of the 20th century, and his writing style reflects that. Slow down and get used to two sentences per page. OTOH, every now and then there will be a flash of humor, a dreadful pun, or a double meaning that lets you know itís a modern book. He's particularly fond of playing off old and new meanings of the same word - if you get to the scene with Babbington and the lesbians you'll know what I mean. ;) And he holds up for the modern reader the deep fundamental differences between our world and theirs - these guys in many respects just don't think like we do. It took me a while, but as you may have noticed, I'm now something of a fanatic.

[ 06-16-2004, 10:40 PM: Message edited by: Keith Wilson ]

ion barnes
06-17-2004, 12:01 PM
I dont really care for books of fiction, execpt to pass some time outside of R&R. i have also tried to not compare any book to the movie adaptation. It is never the same, ever!

I liked M&C, saw it in the theatre, made me wish I had a very big screen TV at home. My son brought it home to watch when he was visiting,he enjoyed it as an adventure film, being a non reader.

You know what? I would do almost anything to see M&C on an IMAX screen!!

martin schulz
06-17-2004, 12:20 PM
Originally posted by Jack Heinlen:
Oh the other thing I wondered, and maybe some of the ship historians will know, is it reasonable that Suprise could fool a wiley French captain into thinking he was chasing a whaler? I think of American whalers of a slightly later period, and they were pretty distinctive.Of course not. A french captain could not have deceived that way, but originaly (in the book) it was an american captain/boat Aubrey was chasing. They just changed the nationality because they (Hollywood) didn't want the US guys to look bad. ;)

[ 06-17-2004, 01:21 PM: Message edited by: martin schulz ]

06-18-2004, 07:40 AM
I agree, Martin. Most of us can look at a boat from a mile or two away and tell pretty much what we are looking at. Whalers were normally underrigged for their size with a lot of freeboard (for holding barrels of oil, of course). Anyone who had achieved the rank of captain of a frigate (even a privateer frigate) would have been able to tell that he wasn't looking at a whaler.

As I recall, the ship that Aubrey and the Surprise was chasing was destroyed in a storm. The story that they used in the movie was created by the screen writers.

For those of you who have not read the books (and I've read all of them at least twice), just know that the movie was based on parts of two of the books. Weir and his writers tried to capture the 'spirit' of the books, but they actually created an original story not to be found in the writing of Patrick O'Brian. Just like the Lord of the Rings movies, the general outline is there, but there is little in the way of details that you will find in the books.

John E Hardiman
06-18-2004, 10:31 AM
As an aside; one thing that struck me watching the movie was the feeling that there was a lot more film shot and then it was edited down to make the movie a reasonable length. Almost as if a different larger/longer screenplay was shot and then re-edited to make a different plot that would run in the time allowed.

Also, I like the movie much better on the big screen. I think it is similar to Das Boot, but this movie conveys the vast expanse of the ocean and the tiny ship where in Das Boot the action is all concentrated in the cramped hull. Neither of those feelings can be commumicated from a 30" screen.