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The Bounty leaves Portsmouth in 1787. Its destination: to sail to Tahiti and load bread-fruit. Captain Bligh will do anything to get there as fast as possible, using any means to keep up a strict discipline. When they arrive at Tahiti, it is like a paradise for the crew, something completely different than the living hell aboard the ship. On the way back to England, officer Fletcher Christian becomes the leader of a mutiny. Written by
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I was just thinking, sir, that our little errand for groceries might wind up in a page of naval history if we succeed in negotiating The Horn in the dead of winter.
Why shouldn't we succeed? Admiral Anderson did.
Yes, but of course he didn't choose to attempt it in a ninety-one-foot chamber pot. In any event, his was the only ship to do it and I believe he lost fifty percent of his crew.
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This is a fabulous movie. Sumptuous production, good screenplay, excellent performances, beautiful cinematography and a majestic musical score.
Story follows the crew of British Naval vessel 'The Bounty' on its mission to transport 'bread fruit' plants from Tahiti to Jamaica, as food for the slaves there. Unrest is almost immediate, with the Captain (Howard) and his first officer (Brando) disagreeing over the appropriate punishment for a sailor's minor infraction. Things only get worse during the voyage as the harsh Captain responds severely to anything that opposes his ambition to please the admiralty with a speedy voyage. The crew's time spent in the paradise of Tahiti (particularly with regard to the naked and willing women) fills them with such pleasure that the prospect of a return voyage under such cruelty is unbearable. Events finally reach a summit on the way to Jamaica, when a mutiny takes place and the Captain is set adrift with most of those in disagreement with the first officer. However, this is far from an absolution for both sides...
For many the film is measured by the performance of Marlon Brando in the lead role, and it is easy to see why. His first officer, Fletcher Christian, is unlike anything from him in memory; however, taken as it is: an effeminate, fair-minded character forced into an extreme dilemma, the result is a complicated man, extremely well played. Indeed, as the film progresses, Christian's predicament is increasingly sympathetic and it is to Brando's credit that he remains engaging throughout. His unexpected plea to his fellow mutineers at the end is an extraordinarily conceived and delivered moment in the film.
Trevor Howard plays Captain Bligh with poise and relish. The character is completely arrogant and utterly loathsome, but never less than believable. This villain is all the more frightening because his cruel methods never stray outside the 'official' Naval regulations, as he is keen to point out. Of the supporting players, Richard Harris' roguish Mills and Richard Haydn as the Royal botanist (and film's narrator) make the strongest impressions. Overall acting is very good.
Vivid use is made of the exotic island locations (on which a considerable time is spent) and the vast, isolating ocean vistas.
Overall impression is of grand scale and spectacle, but illustrated with the intelligence and humanity of the scenario. Near-perfect filmmaking in glorious, old-fashioned style!
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