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Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

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The year is 1803. England and France are (as usual) at a state of war. A French ship, the Archeon, is operating near South America. Under orders, HMS Surprise gives her chase. The former's captain, "Lucky Jack" Aubrey pushes his ship and his crew to their limits to achieve the objective.

On the occasion of finishing the handling of final details of getting Brute Force off to the printer and on its way to bookstores, some friends invited Niki and me over to see Master and Commander.

Film adaptations of novels can be difficult. Good examples usually run quite long. The past decade's BBC presentation of Pride and Prejudice, for example, runs some five hours. The recent Lord of the Rings trilogy had a run time of something like nine hours -- and it still felt hurried. Sadly, I suspect that Master and Commander suffered in the same way as LotR, where simply too much material was packed into to small a space. My suspicions are primarily based on some interesting flashes of character development shown in the relationship between Capt. Aubrey and Dr. Maturin that leave something wanting. Where a novel or a pair of novels will have the space to explore interpersonal issues, a film that expects to be shown in theaters will have to choose carefully what it may present.

I thought the depictions of life aboard such a vessel to be highly accurate (as compared to historical accounts I have read). The cinematography was very good, very successfully presenting strong visual images that underscore the mood and draw the viewer into the film. Casting was done well, and the actors did an excellent job of presenting themselves as thoroughly believable.

I enjoyed watching the movie but it's not one that I'm likely to watch repeatedly. Any future revisitation I make of HMS Surprise will most likely be in the form of picking up the books.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2005-02-01 10:45 AM
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