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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
Coincidentally, during the film's pre-production, the replica of Captain James Cook's ship, HMS Endeavour, was circumnavigating the globe. The production was able to fly 2 cameramen to the ship as it was about to sail round the bottom of South America, a route the HMS Surprise takes in the film. Thus, the footage of the stormy seas from that part of the voyage is genuine. See more »
Reflections of studio light visible on the brass edge of Mr. Hollom's spy-glass in the beginning of the movie when the ship is inside of a fog bank. 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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