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Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

PG-13  |   |  Action, Adventure, Drama  |  14 November 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 160,959 users   Metascore: 81/100
Reviews: 685 user | 236 critic | 42 from Metacritic.com

During the Napoleonic Wars, a brash British captain pushes his ship and crew to their limits in pursuit of a formidable French war vessel around South America.



(novels), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 21 wins & 72 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward Woodall ...
Jack Randall ...
Lee Ingleby ...
Richard Pates ...
Tony Dolan ...


In April 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars, 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 goal. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Courage To Do The Impossible Lies In The Hearts of Men.


Action | Adventure | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense battle sequences, related images, and brief language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

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Release Date:

14 November 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Far Side of the World  »

Box Office


$150,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$25,105,990 (USA) (14 November 2003)


$93,926,386 (USA) (7 May 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the original story, the ship that was attacked was American. It was changed to a French ship by the filmmakers and the studio. See more »


Following the first encounter with the Acheron, Captain Aubrey inspects a chart using a magnifier. In the magnified image, a pattern of ink overspray is visible surrounding each letter in the phrase "Hidden Reef" as the magnifier is panned over it (at around 18 mins). Such a pattern is precisely characteristic of modern-day inkjet printers, but of neither quill pens or the printing presses of the period. See more »


[first lines]
Preserved Killick, Captain's Steward: [taking egg from chicken coop] Come on, come on. It's all right.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits. See more »


Referenced in The 61st Annual Golden Globe Awards (2004) See more »


Ghost of Time
Composed by Iva Davies, Christopher Gordon and Richard Tognetti
Performed by Iva Davies and Icehouse
Featured Violin Performance by Richard Tognetti
Orchestrated by Christopher Gordon
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Masterly and Commanding
9 December 2004 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Few films manage to capture the era in which the original work was set and often rely on clichés of the particular genre at the expense of the core story. This film manages to avoid these pitfalls but more importantly serves as a worthwhile historical document. Anyone who is new to this period of history will not go far wrong keeping a copy of this movie as the attention to detail is excellent and adds to the experience as a whole (teachers take note).

This movie manages to tread a fine line between gritty realism and Boy's Own, portraying the pursuit of an elite French warship by an older embattled British frigate. The production values are very high and the dialogue and length allow the director a better than average framework for character development. The predominantly unknown British supporting cast (some aged as young as 12) are expertly handled and provide a counter balance to the excellent performances of Crowe and Bettany. Crowe's delivery is very reminiscent of Richard Burton, exuding a measured screen presence without overpowering the dialogue.

It would have been easy for the director to read through the salty notes of previous period pieces and deliver the usual tale of ocean going brutality and scurvy encrusted woe but Peter Weir's version of order through respect and camaraderie is far more believable especially when you realize that the sailor's greatest enemy was the ocean itself.

I found little to dislike and much to admire. Highly recommended.

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The best sea war movie of all time! WEKurtz
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