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Horatio Hornblower: The Wrong War (1999)
"Hornblower: The Frogs and the Lobsters" (original title)

TV Movie  -   -  Adventure | Drama | War  -  25 April 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 2,463 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 9 critic

Lt. Hornblower and his mates are sent to accompany a doomed royalist invasion of revolutionary France.



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Title: Horatio Hornblower: The Wrong War (TV Movie 1999)

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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Colonel Moncoutant
Major Lord Edrington
General Charette
Admiral Lord Hood
Estelle Skornik ...
Jonathan Coy ...
Colin MacLachlan ...
Jean Badin ...
Ian Lindsay ...


Hornblower is called to take a company of British troops (which the sailors call lobsters because of their red coats) and a company of French nationalists to France to fight in the revolution. But Hornblower is horrified by the brutality of the French commander as he guillotines everyone in a village that destroyed his former home and his unwillingness to take part in the actual battles. However, when the commander and his men set out to rape and brutalize a young school teacher, Hornblower vows his protection of her. Written by John Sacksteder <>

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Plot Keywords:

french | invasion | british | bridge | battle | See more »


Adventure | Drama | War


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Release Date:

25 April 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Horatio Hornblower: The Wrong War  »

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Did You Know?


Captain Pellew's line, "As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean," is a quotation from the second part of 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' by Coleridge. It was first published, anonymously, in 1798. See more »


(at around 1 min) one of the British soldiers has a hole in his trousers, revealing his modern underwear. See more »


Major Edrington: In that case, I suggest we look to ourselves for command.
See more »


The British Grenadiers
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User Reviews

A deep entry
21 October 2013 | by (Denmark) – See all my reviews

Exiled French Royalists gain British support for a desperate attempt to take back the Republic. Against his better judgment, Capt. Pellew(Lindsay, who balances maintaining discipline with a respect and fondness of Horatio) is made to oversee the operation, as well as keep secret a terrible fact that may doom it. Hornblower(Gruffudd, a man who stands against injustice, and here experiences his otherwise strong sense of diplomacy failing him in favor of that principle) is joined by the "Lobsters", English army soldiers, and their officer, Edrington(West, a man who reveals more layers to him as this progresses, with none of them conflicting with the earlier ones). They must work under the seemingly endless certainty of the "Frogs" in charge - General Charette(Shrapnel, fierce in his support of the monarchy) and Colonel Moncoutant(Sher, who cannot wait to take on the role of Marquis of the village they take as part of the assault).

Thematically and in developing characters, this is possibly the richest of these so far. One particular object appears a number of times in this, each bathed in meaning, altering the situation, in a manner that flows logically from what has been seen until that point. As already mentioned, this further fleshes out our main cast(Bamber's Kennedy, while youthful, growing into a man, delivers a line that, compared to what he's said earlier, simultaneously elegantly shows one of the larger conflicts in this), as well as doing justice to the new ones. They are human beings, for better or for worse, and they will grip and effect you - I spent most of this glued to my seat, and either clenching my fists in hope for some, or digging my nails into my hands to quell my fury with others. The arrival of nobility in their post-revolution motherland is a microcosm of the international clash of two vastly different political and philosophical approaches. The UK's king was terrified for his own position. Would "liberty, unity, and power" spread? Could it even be stopped?

We see a historically early example of traditional warfare facing off against guerrilla tactics, of the psychological repercussions of being in such a situation. The two countries are contrasted - in favor of one of them? Absolutely. However, vital points are nonetheless made, and the people of the other are not made out to be, even mostly, "bad". We come closer than before to the intimate, nasty detail of the reality of armed battles - meeting people caught between those who overthrew Louis XVI, and those who wish to reinstate such a ruling system(and yet the perspective always remains that of our returning ensemble). Production values, filming, editing all continue to be amazing - hardly anything betrays that this was made for TV, and not the silver screen. It inspires debate, research, and delving into what made what this depicts, and other things like it, occur. The people and nations involved and what drove them to be and do such.

There is disturbing, brutal, bloody, violent content in this. I recommend this to everyone - if you are not yet old enough to handle the unpleasant aspects, make a note to see it once you are. 9/10

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