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Peter Yeldham's "Captain James Cook" is notable in it's historical accuracy, beautiful cinematography and music. Keith Michell is well cast in the title role and portrays Cook as the humane and progressive British explorer that he was. While some dramatic license is taken in the interest of compressing the story for television, it is generally a faithful representation of Cook 's story. The supporting cast members portray actual historical figures and do so eloquently. John Gregg and Xabier Elorriaga are especially good in the roles of Joseph Banks and Lord Sandwich, respectively. This is one of TNT's better mini-series.
We feel the anticipation and excitement of sailing into the unknown
with James Cook in the Endeavour to pioneer sea routes around the
globe. We share the highs and lows with captain and crew as the
adventure takes one turn after another. At the same time we gain
insight into Cook, the man, as to what drives his ambition and the
subsequent cost to himself and his loved ones.
I was glued to the screen when this first came out, just as I was to "Shogun". These productions share several things in common: high calibre acting, in depth research with accurate portrayal of historical detail and a great sense of adventure.
I'm currently looking for this on DVD but it is nowhere to be found - come on Amazon!
I recorded this series when it was shown here in the UK in August 1990.
no expert on Captain Cook, but I just love this series which is visualy
soooo beautiful and to me realy evokes the wonder these explorers must
felt at discovering amazing new lands and peoples.
Having worked in London's British museum of natural history and having seen many of the original specimens brought back from Cook's voyages watching this series has certainly put flesh on the bones of of this truly great man who it is also very nice to know was a good natured humane fair commander of men as well.
I have been a member of the Captain Cook Society for a number of years and therefore have a great interest in James Cook. I thoroughly recommend this series to anyone interested in learning about James Cook and his life. Naturally, to fit his entire life into four videos, some facets bend to "poetic licence". This however is very rare and I treasure these videos as a major part of my Cook collection.
I haven't seen this in a while and was pleasantly surprised to find out
it aired over the past few days. To my joy, it turns out that the
series - remarkable at first sight - has aged wonderfully: the
low-keyed, yet intensive enthusiasm is still there, as are some
particularly beautiful sights of the ships in all sort of situations.
The cramped, tense atmosphere aboard a ship and life and times in the
Royal Marine are shown convincingly (I remember seeing years ago Master
and Commander and thinking how much of that film seemed to have been
inspired by this series) - and the acting is quite outstanding, Keith
Mitchell and Jacques Penot coming to mind first, but certainly not
being the only ones to have made a lasting impression.
The Arctic regions could have used better effects and the South Sea, New Zeeland etc. could certainly have offered some more outstanding locations, but that is really just a very minor complaint.
For some reason I find this series very intense. It begins in a rather light mood, I especially like the episodes on the first journey. Then the general undertone becomes darker and darker, and it is somehow hard to watch Cook's demise from an enthusiastic and able navigator into an irritable and unhappy man who seems to be unconsciously planning his own death. Somehow I got the impression that money became scarce after a while so that the Second and third journey really missed out in comparison to the presentation of the first one. Knowing a little bit about the facts I must say that one could have added more spice by including more remarkable incidents that took place during those journeys. Generally I love the acting and the cast - even though Keith Michell is about 20 years too old, as is John Gregg as Banks (the real Banks was 25 when he set out on the first journey). All the same: Keith Michell warms my heart as Cook, John Gregg is hilarious as Banks, as is Xabier Elloriaga as Sandwich. Those two especially obviously loved their parts. Elloriaga (I think it is in Part 4) is absolutely delicious as he "coaxes" Cook to agree to go on the third journey. I would have loved to see this in the original version!!!!
if James Cook is your passion, this show is great! If you're just looking for a beautiful movie this is it. Hopefully some producer one day will make a new movie about James Cook, although this one is still good.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
7/10. This is yet another neglected non-American history, and it is one of my favourite mini-series. If you like the exploration of strange new worlds, the romance of the high seas, its practical difficulties, and perhaps "Star Trek", then you should appreciate this true story of what the age of exploration was like. Keith Mitchell plays well as the legitimately great and controversial English explorer. I imagine that the all of the cast and crew relished the experience aboard the replica of HMS Bounty used for the big, Mel Gibson, Hollywood movie made earlier in the 1980s. On the other, in keeping with the small budgets that non-American productions are typically allotted, the special effects are especially poor when they are supposed to simulate polar conditions. There is some Tahitian nudity that would be acceptable for the same reason that native nudity in National Geographic would be. I still fondly remember the theme three years after seeing it on the History Channel. However, I suspect that much dramatic license was taken and that many interesting items were omitted. *** Spoilers Follow *** Given its eight-hour length, I was particularly disappointed that Cook's visit in his third voyage to where I live was ignored. In Victoria, BC, there are statues of Captain Cook in the harbour, I lived just off Cook Street, and I ate at Captain Cook's Bakery. I live in a city named after one of his unmentioned officers, Vancouver. An Australian production reserves the right to concentrate on matters that interest Australians, of course, but one might think that a rape of native women by Cook's men here at Vancouver Island would rate some air time. However, this helps to show that Cook's story is so rich that it should be covered in a much longer series. With better special effects and more narrative focus, I expect that these same filmmakers would have elicited at least a 9/10 from me.
A luxuriant and compelling television adventure series from the late-'80s. Perhaps there could have been a more scholarly and academic analysis of the transit of Venus in Tahiti in 1769 and the penetration of the Antarctic Circle in the winter of 1772-1773? Also there could have been an emphasis on the metaphysical aspects of the Enlightenment and maybe Baroque music could have been deployed, for example, a Bach keyboard or cello song? Cook's adventures and discoveries encapsulated the Enlightenment period in microcosm. On the other hand the scenes in colonial Dutch Batavia are compelling and it is good to see the deployment of Dutch actors who look the part relating to Cook's encounter with the colonial authorities. Maybe someone at the Beeb could rub two brain cells together and conjure up an academic documentary series on Alexander Von Humboldt's discoveries and adventures in Latin America?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I vividly remember watching this enthralling mini series in December 1988, when it was first aired on the continent. When it was aired again, I watched again and it hadn't lost any of its charm. The storyline is captivating, more or less accurately based on the life and journeys of James Cook. It has a nice pace, but not the breathtaking and head-spinning fast cuts of more "modern", video-clip like productions. There are real characters and no cardboard figures. The production values are good for a TV movie of the eighties, and the acting is superb. Very often, if you have such a motley crew of actors of all the countries which have (financially) contributed to the film, the result is not always satisfactory, the actors, due for example to language difficulties, not forming a team. This is decidedly not the case here: British, Australian, French, German and Spanish actors do a marvellous job, especially Keith Michell as James Cook and the German actor Erich Hallhuber, who plays Lieutenant John Gore. Why don't TV stations air such gems more often?
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