In April 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars, the H.M.S. Surprise, a British frigate, is under the command of Captain Jack Aubrey. Aubrey and the Surprise's current orders are to track and capture or destroy a French privateer named Acheron. The Acheron is currently in the Atlantic off South America headed toward the Pacific in order to extend Napoleon's reach of the wars. This task will be a difficult one as Aubrey quickly learns in an initial battle with the Acheron that it is a bigger and faster ship than the Surprise, which puts the Surprise at a disadvantage. Aubrey's single-mindedness in this seemingly impossible pursuit puts him at odds with the Surprise's doctor and naturalist, Stephen Maturin, who is also Aubrey's most trusted advisor on board and closest friend. Facing other internal obstacles which have resulted in what they consider a string of bad luck, Aubrey ultimately uses Maturin's scientific exploits to figure out a way to achieve his and the ship's seemingly impossible ... Written by
At one point, the writers toyed with the idea of adding a love interest for Russell Crowe's character. Although this idea was later rejected, Keira Knightley was first choice for the part. See more »
The Acheron is supposed to be a 44-gun frigate built in America and sold to a French privateer. No large American-built warship was sold to any foreign concern (nation or individual) during this time period (except the 74-gun ship-of-the-line "America" given to France after the Revolutionary War). American-built warships did not have a good reputation in Europe (something reinforced by the poorly built "America"). It was not until the War of 1812 that the large American frigates proved the superiority of their design. The use of a large American-built frigate in the story is apparently a holdover from the book in which it is an American warship which is pursued. See more »
"When at sea, one must choose the lesser of two weevils."
My summary quote is from a scene where the captain (Crowe) makes a joke at the expense of his good friend and physician (Bettany). It is indicative of the fine humor sprinkled into an otherwise serious movie.
Many commentors said this movie is dull or boring. They must have wanted an event-driven, action-oriented movie, which this is not. There really are only two, rather brief, battle scenes. Instead, this is very much a character-driven movie. The approach the captain takes to his mission, extending it beyond his orders, to try and do his part to thwart the French power play in the waters near Brazil in 1805. His good friend, the doctor, wanting to study insects, birds, reptiles and other creatures on the shore of strange lands, including the Galapagos, but being disappointed by demands of the mission. Young boys literally growing up on the ship to become effective military leaders. The claustrophobic conditions on the ship, enduring rough seas that almost destroy their temporary home, or lack of rain that makes them wonder if they will die of thirst.
Overall a fine movie. The critic Ebert has a good and complete review. The DVD is good, with a very nice picture and both DTS and Dolby sound, but no extras relating to the movie.
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