I hated this movie so much I fell in love with it.
When I first viewed this film (recently - it's out there on shaky old tapes although I wish someone would release it on DVD!) it disturbed me greatly. It bothered me for days - absolutely wouldn't let go. Then I started to research the history behind the story and discovered that the script is very accurate indeed - much more so than you normally see in this sort of period drama. And that makes it even more disturbing.
The entire production is top notch - costumes, sets, the lovely footage of the tall ships. John Thaw is wonderful as Francis Drake, but the real star here is Paul Darrow, playing the captain's friend and rival Thomas Doughty. He's known for his mannered performance as Avon in Blakes 7, but here he gives the performance of his career - subtle and powerful.
Just don't be misled by the title into believing this is an adventure story. It's really a psychodrama about jealousy, greed and paranoia, and the overall message about what it takes to win in this world is very dark indeed. At the same time, it's an oddly inspiring movie which has something important to say about dignity under the worst possible conditions and what it means to be fully human.
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