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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 159,640 users   Metascore: 81/100
Reviews: 685 user | 236 critic | 42 from

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.



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Won 2 Oscars. Another 22 wins & 71 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
See  »

Did You Know?


The cast endured a two week boot camp where they literally learned the ropes and what to do on board a frigate, including the loading and firing of cannons. They also all learned basic sword skills. See more »


Throughout the fighting, pistols are seen to function well. During this time period, flintlock pistols failed to discharge up to 50% of the time, and were considered a secondary weapon in close combat. 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 »


Spoofed in Robot Chicken: Beastmaster and Commander (2011) See more »


Endless Ocean
Composed by Christopher Gordon and Iva Davies
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The Most Realistic and Exciting Sea Saga Ever
25 November 2003 | by (Hudson Valley, NY) – See all my reviews

See this film NOW at the best, state of the art theater you can find. You'll know why five minutes in.

I didn't want to leave the theater when this roller coaster rhapsody to sea soldiery circa 1805 was over. It's stirring entertainment. No love interests needed. This was what it was really like. One ship, 197 men, 4500 miles from home. Chasing a French ship twice her size. No retreat.

Pirates of the Crappy Be-in was a cute romp, but Master and Commander has real ships, real crews, real cannon,convincing characters, historical accuracy and a REAL film director.

Director/ Peter Weir (Witness) has returned big time and, with this one film, revived classic Australian realism, actually surpassing the production values of Peter Jackson's Ring Trilogy. This is not a fantasy film, but history - painstakingly recreated. And rousing history it is, with plenty of action AND robust character development. The adaptation by Weir and John Colley is right on target, brimming with great characters and scenes.

And Russel Crowe? Other than "The Insider", this is his best role ever. Gladiator was just a warm-up. A Beautiful Mind? Well, nice acting from the neck up. Go see this if you want to see both his athleticism and his formidable acting chops! And he decent musical gifts as well (RC studied violin for the role).

I've always thought Weir was one of our great directors. Now he's been given all the toys Peter Jackson enjoys. And Weir uses them to great effect - recreating a nautical reality that lacks nothing except the need to wipe your face every ten seconds. The cutting of Russel Boyd's fabulous photography is perfect. You get to know every inch of the ship, topside and down below. You also get a strong sense of the social dynamics on board - how men got along with each other for so many months. I felt swept along in a perfect mix of virile action and characters I could get to know and care for. One thing I loved was the constant caring between many of the men along the rank and file. There's a strong sense of honor and decency in the film. Yet enough grog flows to keep things loose.

This is vigorous stuff and my most thrilling two hours in a theater for a while. Congratulations to everyone involved.

For now, the best director Oscar goes to Peter Weir over Clint Eastwood (Mystic River)in 2004. Master and Commander is my pick for best picture, just because it is so masterfully realized. A stunning, exhilarating, and - at last - realistic action saga.

180 of 210 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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The best sea war movie of all time! WEKurtz
Why did the one kid think he was cursed? gangsta_toes
Have the french ever won anything? taraanis
Not Certain I Really Want To Know . . . curlew-2
re: Hollom's treatment as Jonah helica9
Don't think it deserved the Oscar nomination for Best Picture hburly-2

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