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Horatio Hornblower: Retribution (2001)

Hornblower: Retribution (original title)
Hornblower and the other officers of the Renown must return to Jamaica to face a court-martial and possible execution for their actions in relieving their unstable captain.


Andrew Grieve


C.S. Forester (stories), Ben Rostul (screenplay)
6 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Ioan Gruffudd ... Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower
Robert Lindsay ... Commodore Sir Edward Pellew
David Warner ... Captain James Sawyer
Nicholas Jones ... Lieutenant Buckland
Paul McGann ... Lieutenant Bush
Jamie Bamber ... Lieutenant Archie Kennedy
Philip Glenister ... Gunner Hobbs
Paul Copley ... Matthews
Sean Gilder ... Styles
David Rintoul ... Dr. Clive
Terence Corrigan Terence Corrigan ... Midshipman Wellard
Ian McElhinney ... Captain Hammond
John Castle ... Captain Collins
Gilly Gilchrist ... Randall
Antonio Gil ... Colonel Francisco Manuel Ortega (as Antonio Gil-Martinez)
Learn more

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Before taking the Renown back to Jamaica for their court martial on charges of mutiny, Hornblower, Kennedy, and Bush convince an insecure and indecisive Lt. Buckland, now acting captain, that it would be appropriate to launch a surprise attack on the Spanish fortress at Santo Domingo. Matters are complicated when the inept Buckland incurs the enmity of the local rebels, who now regard them as enemies too. Captain Sawyer's increasing paranoia, deserting seamen, Buckland's growing jealousy of Hornblower, and the duplicity of the Spaniards all complicate the already perilous situation. Written by Gabe Taverney {duke1029@aol.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Adventure | Drama | War


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Did You Know?


At the trial, when Hobbs compares captain Sawyer to admiral Nelson, most of the sailors in the audience nod encouragingly, while Commodore Pellew and the other judges seem quite uncomfortable, with Pellew shifting in his seat and Captain Hammond awkwardly muttering "Nelson...Yes". This is actually a very accurate historical reaction, giving the fact that, at the time, Nelson had become a piece of gossip and a source of public embarrassment for the Royal Navy for his open affair with Emma Hamilton, wife of the British ambassador to Naples. Fellow commanders and high society were extremely critical, claiming Nelson put himself before his duty and his conduct was unfit of a gentleman, even considering the option of removing him from command; yet he was loved and revered among the sailors. This makes the scene extremely authentic. See more »


When the Spanish prisoners break into the captains cabin, Captain Sawyer and Midshipman Wellard are standing behind the table, with Wellard to the Captains left. After they are shot, the scene showing them laying on the deck, now has Wellard to the Captains right. See more »


3rd Lt. Horatio Hornblower: I'm sorry that his last command was taken away from him. He was a leader of men, and he died in battle.
Gunner Hobbs: It's all over now, sir. All over.
See more »

User Reviews

Great adaptation of one of my favorite books
24 July 2002 | by Havan_IronOakSee all my reviews

I first read the Hornblower novels as a schoolboy and have reread them from time to time over the years when I wanted to escape to an era when life moved at 6 knots or less.

In the books, Hornblower thought of himself as the `Midshipman that got sick at Spithead' in fact he was always getting sick at the beginning of every voyage. He was more than ordinarily plain in appearance and was plagued by being tone deaf in an era when Music was the highest form of art. Finally he was frequently terrified to the point of nausea by the things he had to do to survive. Yet, the reader saw that he overcame all of that by using his wits, determination and inborn intelligence and by persevering when others were panicking and giving up. Even into the latest novels as he became first a Knight of the Realm and later a Lord, he still felt that if folks knew the real Hornblower as only he knew himself they would see him as a failure and a sham.

In these films A&E has cast Ioan Gruffudd as Hornblower. He is physically attractive and most of Hornblower's self-perceived inner faults are ignored or only hinted at. We do see his fear of heights but very little else that allows us to see the `fallible Hornblower' that is so richly developed in the books. Yet so much of the rest of the story is there in such wonderful detail that it's hard to dislike or fault this series.

I'm continually intrigued by the films because of the ways that they are faithful to the originals and by the ways that they stray. It's clear that some episodes so richly developed in the books include a dramatic element that is largely in Hornblower's thoughts. Due to the nature of the medium and the demands of the typical viewer, its clear that much of this will not work as a movie.

What does puzzle me from time to time are the wholesale changes that are made where I can see no reason for the change. One prime example of that is strongly featured in the episode Mutiny. In the books when the captain is chasing through the ship trying to catch the mutineers and he falls down the hatch, only Hornblower is below decks. It is left to Hornblower's word that he fell. Several folks figure out that he MAY have been pushed and several credit Hornblower with being quick-witted enough to realize that if he pushed him, no one would be able to prove it. Only Hornblower knows for sure and even the readers never learn the truth. It's up to the individual to decide.

I can see from others comments that perhaps they would enjoy the novels more than the movies.

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

15 April 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Horatio Hornblower: Retribution See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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