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
Peter Weir has directed a bunch of will-be-Oscar-nominated movies. For me, this is not a merit for a filmmaker, since Oscar-dramas are usually 95% of entertainment, which by itself isn't interesting. His style is very compromising and clean, you are not surprised by originality, but you can enjoy the professional touch he has in his work.
Another Australian, Russell Crowe is also a professional, but has some weak points in his acting, mainly caused by certain machismo he desperately tries to maintain in all his characters.
Rest of the cast was unfamiliar to me and I had not read any Patrick O'Brian books. But the sea itself, tall ships and the Napoleonic Wars are of course great elements to base the story on, especially for a amateur war historian and summertime sailor like me.
I was surprised, how truly good Master and Commander was. A true adventure! I enjoyed the whole film and could not find anything I wouldn't like. Things were different in back then and Master and Commander presents its version of the Napoleonic Era. It looks very rich and detailed. Undoubtedly O'Brian novels form a fine background for the excellent screenplay. Soundtrack is very well done too, and musical scenes with Aubrey and Maturin playing duet with violin and cello ties their friendship. One of the best things in Master and Commander is the heartwarming friendship between these two characters.
It's like Weir and Crowe were born and trained to do this movie. And obviously I have born to watch it, since I've seen it five times so far. A perfect jewel of its kind. Oh, how I wish they'd make a dozen of sequels, especially since the end was sort of open and had a sense of continuation. If I had watched this movie when I was 12 I probably would have had a career in the navy...
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