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

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Masterly and Commanding
Buckster699 December 2004
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 This film manages to avoid these pitfalls but more importantly serves as a worthwhile historical document.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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Masterfully Done
divaclv17 December 2003
"Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" is half swashbuckling action movie, half detailed examination of life in the 19th-century British navy, and all entertaining. Director Peter Weir has created an intriguing film that nicely balances fierce battle sequences with quiet, intimate scenes.

Nearly all of the film takes place aboard the HMS Surprise, under the command of Captain "Lucky" Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe). The captain's orders: to intercept and disable the French privateer Acheron, which is troubling British vessels off the coast of South America. The two ships clash early on, and the Surprise is thoroughly routed--the Acheron is larger, faster, and more modern. But Aubrey, with a determination that might not entirely be due to his sense of duty, is not one to give up, and the Surprise chases the Acheron--and/or vice versa--down the Brazilian coast, around Cape Horn, and to the Gallapagos Islands.

That's the action part. The intimate part involves Aubrey's relationship with the ship's surgeon, Stephan Marutin (Paul Bettany). Stephan is a quiet intellectual and devout naturallist, whose train of thought is foraying into the territory that would make Darwin a household name later in the century. He's also the only one among the crew who's either willing or able to call Aubrey's decisions into question. He provides a grounding force for the captain, and the friendship between these two dissimilar men is the emotional heart of the story.

I've yet to read any of the Patrick O'Brian series upon which "Master and Commander" is based, but the movie shows every evidence of being derived from a painstakingly and meticulously detailed work, one which has gone to great lengths to re-create the world and environment of these men. The details on screen are wonderful, depicting the sort of harsh conditions that make the contestants on those "reality" series look like the overglorified wimps they are. The crew of the Surprise (many of them not older than twenty) lives in claustrophobic and none-too-clean quarters--at times it seems as if every inch of the screen is crammed full--and sleep in hammocks that may very well end up serving as their shrouds. Battles are chaotic, with cannon fire ripping huge holes in the ship and sending shrapnel in every direction. The weather seems to exist only in extremes: still heat, raging tempests, even snow as they drift down near the Antarctic circle. Good service is rewarded with extra rations of grog and brandy, insubordination is punished by the whip. It's a place where both close friendships and deep resentments can grow, and the tension in the air at times feels like a living presence.

Crowe dominates the production, once again proving himself one of the best leading men working in movies. In his hands, Jack Aubrey is a natural leader of men: clever, courageous, determined, and capable of what nowadays is called "thinking outside the box." He is frequently confronted with difficult choices, but takes his responsibilities and the consequences of his actions unflinchingly. Bettany turns in an equally good performance as Aubrey's emotional and ideological opposite; the two men play wonderfully off of each other. Most of the rest of the crew tends to blur together (the exceptions include a young officer who's right arm gets amputated early on, and later takes command of the ship), but "Lord of the Rings" fans will be amused to notice Billy Boyd among the ranks.

The combination of action and introspection in "Master and Commander" at times seems like an odd mix, but the film succeeds on both levels. Definitely a voyage worth taking.
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Enjoy the ride
b1ggesmalz2 December 2004
Master and Commander succeeds not so much in the fact that it has an exceptional plot, but in the fact that it carries the viewer along on its voyage exceptionally. It follows the voyage of Captain "Lucky Jack" Aubrey sailing for the English empire while being chased by a French vessel during the Napoleonic Wars. It's not an entirely innovative or original plot, but it's the experience rather than the plot that drives this movie. The chemistry between the characters and strong performances by all is what make it an exceptional movie. Rather than casting good-looking Hollywood types as crew members, Peter Weir went after people who look like believable seamen who are also great actors in their own right. The cast even had a sort of boot camp training so that everyone knew how to make the ship function. It is this attention to detail that make the movie so believable and enjoyable. Rather than indulging itself in melodrama and Hollywood type moral-based clichés, this film pulls no punches about how it perceives the workings of a British Naval ship to function in the early 19th century. It simply bleeds authenticity at every corner. Excellent performances by Crowe and his doctor right-hand-man played by Paul Bettany only add to the thrill.

The film also has a great original and non-original score which makes it flow perfectly. The interaction between the ship members is what makes it a success. Though 2+hours may seem like a long time to spend with an all-male cast inside a ship, I was never once bored. Instead, you truly feel like you are in the ship with them and at the end you feel like you would want to follow Russel Crowe's "Captain Jack" virtually anywhere he would lead.
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"We have Surprise on our side..."
marques_palma3 December 2004
And surprised I was. After hearing a friend rant endlessly about it, and having nothing to do one Friday night, I rented Master and Commander. The marketing staff should be cackling in glee, that a female in her 20's, would love this movie. It's an amazing movie. Russell Crowe is a force of nature, and all the other actors from Paul Bettany to Billy Boyd give wonderful performances. I especially enjoyed the details of life at sea, though most would call them boring. The day after my 5-day rental, I had to run to the nearest shop and buy the DVD, and have since re-watched it endlessly. I've never seen a more beautifully adapted, filmed and acted movie. Five stars out of five.
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Great story with powerful performances. Sweeps you away to 1805.
marcoloco-125 December 2004
A very complete tale, interwoven with beautiful cinematography, powerful performances (Russel Crowe, especially), masterful score (Bach, name two),and a truly believable storyline with many twists. At the heart of which is the conflict inside Capt. "Lucky" Jack Aubry (Russel Crowe) who balances his duty to the British Empire and his personal relationships with friends and crew members on board the HMS Surprise. All this while playing cat and mouse with a french enemy vessel that is twice his ship's size and double her strength. The conclusion is a great blending of commonality of human cause and duty. All in all, this is one of the most well rounded stories I've ever seen on the motion picture screen.
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The Most Realistic and Exciting Sea Saga Ever
mediahombre225 November 2003
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.
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I wish they'd make a dozen of sequels
xaggurat19 May 2005
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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A chance to relive the British Navy's Golden Age
Corky198410 May 2005
The British Navy ruled the waves throughout the nineteenth century and this film captures some of that spirit rather well. The cast is excellent, Crowe in particular shining as the captain. The battle scenes between Anglo-French vessels are very entertaining, the cannons blasting great big holes into enemy ships! The story itself is not going to set the world on fire, but its all done very nicely. The film offers a glimpse of what life at sea was like during the Napoleonic Wars and anybody with an interest in history should catch the film. A few more battles would have been nice, but there you go! It's over 2 hours long, but doesn't drag. One to watch definitely.
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Beautiful Portrayal of life in a navy vessel in 1805
brucedbennett2 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I would like to start by saying Bravo! I liked the story, the execution of the story by the actors and the director. Russel Crowe really depicted the Captain well and I thought that the supporting cast were superb. The photography really enhanced the scope of the story, and I must take my hat off to the photographic skills of the photographic director.

One tends to forget that this story is not a high speed chase film with lots of blood and gore however it does have its share, although, the speed of the story is greatly paralleled by the speed at which a sea chase would have happened 200 years ago.

It is great to watch a movie that really gets to the heart of the emotions of the crew of a Man-Of-War vessel, not just making the crew look like the hardest SOB's around.

And to that I take my hat off to the Cast and Crew, as well as the writers and the director and producers of this production.
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"When at sea, one must choose the lesser of two weevils."
TxMike24 June 2004
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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A window in time, and the best film ever made about tall ships!
Dr-RJP9 November 2004
Normally, I do not begrudge someone their opinion about a movie, but when they cast aspersions about other reviewers here, I feel compelled to respond. One disgruntled reviewer of this film stated that she cannot understand how anyone could like this movie, let alone love it. Further, she claimed that we, the other reviewers, only believe what we are told to believe. Nothing could be further from the truth.

That someone would loathe what others have lauded is not surprising, really. I have to admit that I, too, have disliked films that were highly rated by a large majority of film critics. 'Fargo' comes to mind as does 'Moulin Rouge' and 'Mystic River.' However, unlike the reviewer, I watched these films several times over before reaching a final judgment in the event that I had been too hasty in my initial impressions. Neither of these films, though, were hailed as classics like 'MASTER AND COMMANDER'

Many people go into a theatre with a preconceived notion of what they think they will see, only to be disappointed when what they see is not what they expected. Each person carries with them their own set of experiences and no amount of explanation or arguments will change their mind, either. Yet, once in awhile a movie transcends the boundaries that define it, and its true genius is not something that everyone is going to apprehend. This is the case with 'MASTER AND COMMANDER'.

All I can say to that reviewer is simply, 'I am really sorry that you were not able to see what I saw.'

Movies like 'MASTER AND COMMANDER' only come around once in a generation. It is, without question, the finest movie ever made about tall ships. However, its greatness lies not in the story line but in those elements that typically ruin what would otherwise be great historical films, namely: dialogue, special effects, and sound track. Take for example, 'Gangs of New York.' The cinematography and sets were outstanding but the dialogue of everyone but Daniel Day-Lewis was severely lacking in historical authenticity. Another example is the 'Passion of the Christ' which used a mix of Aramaic and Hebrew to add its authentic feel, but it came across as highly artificial.

'MASTER AND COMMANDER' brought to life a language totally forgotten: the language of the sea, circa early 1800's. Every actor spoke the language as if they were born into it, and that element alone made the viewer feel as if they were viewing a window in time of a world rarely seen.

The sound editing alone was worth the price of admission. I have never been to a film where I actually felt that I was part of the environment. 'MASTER AND COMMANDER' did that, and even if you play the DVD on a plain TV, you would still marvel at the realism of the sound.

Finally, unlike every other sea movie that preceded it, the special effects were seamlessly integrated into the real footage of the ships at sea. At no time, did I get the sense that I was watching a scale model in a tank. In reality, the actual ship passed through rough seas on its journey around the Horn and these real scenes were added to the movie.

All these factors I mentioned above set the movie apart but that does not mean it had a substandard plot and mediocre acting. On the contrary, Russell Crowe was at his best playing Lucky Jack Aubrey with a panache that could only be matched by the late Errol Flynn. If I were a seaman aboard the HMS Surprise, I would truly feel that I could follow him anywhere. Crowe commands both the stage and the ship wherever he goes.

Paul Bettany as Jack's most trusted friend and the ship's doctor, turns in his best performance to date. Another unusual part of this movie is that while no seagoing fare would be complete without a love affair, the one in this movie is a platonic one between the captain and the doctor.

The two have a special relationship that is constantly strained by Crowe's call to duty and his overarching ambition. Having served with the great Lord Nelson, Lucky Jack does his best to emulate him and carve out a piece of British naval history for himself.

The film reminded me of works like 'Run Silent, Run Deep' which although dealt with more contemporary battles at sea (WWII), also featured a classic battle of wits between unseen adversaries. We never get to meet Jack's nemesis directly, but we learn by his battle tactics that he is a worthy opponent and a lot like Jack himself.

'MASTER AND COMMANDER' is a movie that I never tire of watching, and each time I see it I learn something new. It has its weaknesses like every movie does. It lacks continuity and subplots. It lacks character development of some of the more interesting supporting actors. Often I found it hard to keep track of who is who when everyone is referred to by their last names. Yet, all in all, 'MASTER AND COMMANDER' is a must-see movie and a must-own DVD.
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Absolutely underrated masterpiece
Camoo14 November 2014
I've watched this film probably close to ten times now since I first saw it in the cinema for a double header that included Tom Cruise's dreadful 'The Last Samourai'. I remember the impression it made on me. I also remember feeling embarrassed as a teenager buying a ticket for a movie with such a florid title as 'Master and Commander: Far Side of the World' and Russell Crowe on the poster looking like a butch sailor with an unbuttoned uniform staring wistfully off into the future. I cringed.

How wrong I was. Here is a film told with great precision and mastery by one of the great chameleon filmmakers Peter Weir; I say chameleon because he is a director who always puts his story and characters ahead of himself - his craft is efficient, with the goal being to remove all traces of there being a hand behind the wheel. Everything you need is there, in service to the film.

I've never had the adventure/buccaneer/sailor fantasy growing up, but this film certainly instilled it in me. It's a tremendous adventure, with sweeping battle sequences but is also unusually smart and literate for such a large scale picture. Despite its swashbuckling pretenses, the film allows all of the characters to breathe and come to life over the course of a strangely moving and evocative narrative. Each viewing of the film brings out more details under the surface.

It's a shame it didn't have a chance at a sequel, it deserved one so badly. Meanwhile Pirates of the Caribbean 9: coming to a theater near you…. Seek this one out instead.
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Masterful (and Commanderful)
Interestingly, Russell Crowe helps rather than hinders the picture. It's hard to believe that he's such a jerk when out of character, because his acting as the captain is totally believable. His character is great because he's smart, very stern, but very caring of his crew. While they fear him, they look up to and idolize him too.

The presumably accurate historical details really piqued my interest, from the little 12 and 13-year-old kids on the crew (and taking part in battle--viciously!), to the intricate chain of command, to the sheer power of the battle scenes. Splintering wood shrapnel, how often have we seen that in movies? Some of my favorite scenes are when Crowe is playing his cello in his quarters. His room—I never would have guessed a ship like that would have such a nice and fancy décor hidden within it. I mean the captain's room resembled a room out of "Clue" (The Study? The Library? I cannot say…) Anyway, the visual details are great. Lots of money was spent on this movie and it was spent on things that really mattered, like recreating interiors and antiques. The guns and cannons look like artifacts to the modern viewer, but they're also well-kept and shiny.

The dialog is fantastic, too…I can't remember exact quotes, but when Crowe gave some of his powerful, rallying speeches to the crew, I was ready to climb the mast myself.

This movie is an incredible addition to the action/adventure/historical genre. It's also very much a man's movie. I'm not sure there's a chick in the whole thing.
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"Aubrey, may I trouble you for the salt?"
kwozziegirl25 June 2005
From start to finish, this movie had me feeling every emotion, except hate. I found the brotherhood outstanding, the witty dialog at times near on side splitting, for e.g. When Aubrey suckered Maturin into the Weevil analysis. Maturin's response was equally as funny, but then Bettany has the ability to rise to the occasion in practically every role I have seen him in. Crowie, once again, Brings a fictional Character to life, and if you didn't know any better, you would think the story was based off a real life account. Killick, he kills me, " Killick" yells Aubrey for the Albermarle, " I'm already ere in-nit I " I have watched this flick now about 10 times, and I just don't tire of it, because each time something else catches my eye. I wish I could just climb aboard that vessel and experience the sea-dog life, as I am a sailor from way back. All the Actors in this movie, collaborate to make it a memorable epic. Weir When are you doing another? If you do, get Crowie and Bettany back, and Killick please. Loved it.
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A fine adaptation
eldoktor1 May 2005
As a fan of the Aubrey/Maturin novels, I have to say that this is an amazing adaptation. Crowe isn't big enough for Aubrey, Bettany is too good looking to play Maturin, and Billy Boyd is far too small for Barrett Bonden... but they all work very well in the roles.

Much of the charm of the novels is that there is much that goes unsaid - actions must be inferred from future events. Translating this to the screen is not easy, but here it works out well. Because the film takes bits from all of the books (or many of them, at least), it's chock full of tasty bits of O'Brian. The preeminent pun of the series, regarding dog-watches, is oddly absent, but others are there.

If you like the novels, you will like the film. It captures the feel of the books. The flavor of Nelson's navy is retained. Had I not seen the movie, I would complain about the casting. Having seen it, I have no complaints.
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"This Ship Is Our Home, This Ship Is England"
bkoganbing7 June 2008
For those who like action and adventure from a more romantic age you can't beat Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World for your needs. As a film it rates right up there with Captain Horatio Hornblower which starred Gregory Peck and Damn the Defiant with Alec Guinness, a couple of films I liked very much.

Russell Crowe completely fits my conception of Patrick O'Brian's Napoleonic naval hero 'Lucky Jack Aubrey'. He's a worthy successor to C.S. Forrester's Horatio Hornblower. The books have been best sellers for years and this is Jack Aubrey's first screen appearance.

The film opens with Crowe in command of a ship that's just seen a lot of action and it's not in the best of shape. Orders from the Admiralty come to him. There's a French frigate who's quite a bit bigger than Crowe's ship, nevertheless she's the only one near her in those southern latitudes so it's a search and destroy mission. One that can't be accomplished until necessary repairs are made.

There's surprisingly little combat action in this film until the very end. It concentrates on character and goes into the most minute of detail the life on board a British ship of the line during the Napoleonic Wars. The action takes place in 1805 right after the Battle of Trafalgar and the United Kingdom is still keeping a lot of ships close to home.

Crowe is nothing short of outstanding as Aubrey the charismatic captain of this vessel. He gets good support from the rest of the cast, my favorites being ship's surgeon Paul Bettany and Max Pirkis as the young midshipman who Crowe takes a fatherly interest in.

In a sense the character's nickname of 'Lucky' is a misnomer. What you get Crowe's Jack Aubrey is a man of skill and daring and experience who knows how to take advantage of breaks and make his own luck. Never more so when he has that final encounter with the French ship.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World gives you a real feeling for the Napoleonic era. I do hope that Russell Crowe gets another chance to bring 'Lucky Jack Aubrey' back to the screen again.
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The Best sea tale I have seen to date
Nettybumppo28 September 2005
Me being a seaman in the US Navy for four years and spent a few years in the merchants serving on board cruise and cargo ships in both oceans Atlantic and Pacific. I honestly think director Weir has put together his best Maritine sea saga yet. The crew looked like a crew on an 18th century sailing vessel. the costumes were authentic looking. There was a scene near the end where Crowe was up on the poop deck standing on the starboard side , the cameras was panning away from him, To me that was a classic pose.Everything about that picture was done well. Since the first time i saw this film i must of watched it about a dozen times more . My hat goes off to all who were involved in the making of this fine motion picture.I also understand that originally the french ship was to be an American one , but was changed for the American audience.One other post script There was a scene of a few crew members on there hands and knees scrubbing the wooden deck with a cobble stone what they were doing for the land lubbers out there is called holy stoning the deck. Its like sanding the old wood off the deck surface bringing up the new wood this is a practice that is still done today .
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Not Transformers 2
Colin-630-93581130 October 2014
I'm here purely to lift this remarkable movie's rating,as it is surely one of the greatest action movies I have ever seen,certainly the best period/ historical drama ever committed to film. Slow,dull? Lol. Idiotic. This movie is pretty much as good as it gets,everything about it is first class,and apart from Jaws,I can't think of a better movie set at sea. If ever a movie deserved a sequel it's this masterpiece,I feel sorry for those that think it boring,perhaps Fast and Furious 8 or Transformers 12 is more your thing,so very sad. Make no mistake,this flick is pure brilliance,and to put some Natural History in there too? That is masterful,Crowe gives the performance of his life,everything about it is astounding.i have seen it 20,25 times,both my wife and I find it electrifying,possibly the best sound design ever,I could go on and on,but you get the picture. This is an epic film.
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A masterpiece of art and a thrill to watch
paulklenk23 April 2007
This is easily one of the best films made in the past ten years. The human story is so compelling, noble, and deep, that you will wonder how anyone can make the junk they do today.

Cinematically, it is unparalleled. There may be a few films that are just as good, but none that are better.

Crowe is at his best here. I am not particularly a fan of him (nor a detractor), but in this role he towers as a great captain, man, and actor.

This will be a favorite of mine for years, and is destined to become one of the classics of all time. You just don't see movies like this made -- you're lucky if you get one every two to three years.

It ought to be re-released every ten years or so on the big screen. Everyone needs to know about this film. It stirs the senses and the soul, the mind and the heart. Simply stunning.
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Intelligent High-Seas Adventure
kjw37925 January 2006
There is a scene in MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD where the captain of a British Naval ship, circa 1805, debates the difference between duty and passion. Having passed on an opportunity to make wonderful new discoveries in favor of the pursuit of a massive French war ship, the scene manages to make a rather eloquent, yet subtle comment on the nature of man and his place within the world. The beauty of this film is that there are many such moments where the viewer is simultaneously bombarded with thematic musings, exciting action sequences, great acting and historical accuracy to the point where it becomes difficult to take it all in at once.

Those of you looking for something more like Pirates of the Caribbean will be disappointed as this film is short on action and long on character development. There are only two major battle sequences, separated by more than an hour and a half of time. And while they are great; violently realistic and dramatically involving, the real guts of this film lies in the human stories told along the way. The director, Peter Weir, highlights his ability to tell an intimate story amidst a grand backdrop much like he did in The Truman Show. We get to know these men, their strengths and weaknesses and we see how the long and hard voyage plays on their minds over the film's progression. In one scene, a young officer feels the pressure of his men's dismissive stares and decides to end matters in his own way, afraid of what may be in store for him should he stick it out. Weir does a good job at highlighting the many facets of seafaring life.

If you're looking for an intelligent and thought-provoking journey into the life of a 19th Century British Naval Vessell, look no further. Master and Commander has the depth of a good Discovery Channel show and the action worthy of almost any other high-seas adventure that comes to mind.
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amyalternate20 December 2008
Master and Commander is one of the most perfect films I have ever watched. I don't think there was an extra scene, not a useless line, everything about the film is perfect. The end though, no spoilers really, was ... well I sprang up out of my seat and hollered at the screen, slapped my leg and wish the movie would never end. The more I thought about the film, the more I read into it, the better it became. It is more than a war film or a sea film, it portrays the old world, and the new together. Yada yada, won't go on but you all must see it.

Weir was robbed, he should have been given the Oscar instead of Peter Jackson. I've never watched the Oscars since.
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Looks Great, Sounds Great, IS Great
ccthemovieman-111 January 2006
What a magnificent adventure story, pure and simple.

It's unusual in that there are only two action scenes over the 2 hour, 19-minute film, one near the beginning and one near the end. They don't go on that long, either. For a modern-day film, that's very unusual.

However, that doesn't translate to infer this is too talky or boring. The film will keep your interest all the way. However, for any ladies out there looking for a bit romance in this tale, it isn't there. In that respect, unless you want to ogle at Russell Crowe, this a man's film with an all-male cast.

This movie is a great demo on how to make an adventure film fascinating without blood and guts and explosions every two minutes. It's an heroic tale, right down a little boy who shows us what guts are all about.

This movie won the Academy Award for both cinematography and sound and both honors were well-deserved. If you really want to appreciate this movie, see it on a nice TV and play it with 5.1 surround sound. The creaking of the ship coming out of all the surround speakers is awesome, just in itself.

One negative I had on the first viewing, which I corrected on the second, was the dialog. I had trouble with some of the accents and the naval terminology but that was corrected by putting on the English subtitles.

If I could sum this movie up in one word it would be "classy."
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carla81128 November 2004
i did not get to see Master and Commander in the theatre, but finally did see it on hbo on demand.. well, it is simply the most awesome , engrossing , stunningly beautiful movie i have ever seen! the story, the cast, the cinematography, the characters... usually i like romantic comedies, but this work of art, had me enchanted and spellbound from beginning to end. i have since watched it over and over and over numerous times. of course, Russell Crowe is outstanding in his performance, but it seems the entire cast was fantastic and so believable! i especially loved James D'arcy as the 1st Lieutenant Tom Pullings. i loved the scenes at the dinner table, singing songs, drinking, and joking and laughing! these personalities seem bigger than life! also,i loved a lot of the cinematography, of how the camera would pull back and show the two ships...and the ocean...with that beautiful music playing in the background. i bought the cd of master and commander because i also loved the music too so much! i cant say enough about this is one i will watch over and over again, never tire of...i love the interaction of the characters, and the depth which the film reveals of each one. thank you Peter Weir... i also loved your other film Witness..that is another one i watch and never tire of. MASTER AND COMMANDER...THE BEST FROM THIS SIDE OF THE WORLD! WITH LOVE AND APPRECIATION, CARLA
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Stunning visuals, solid acting and rousing story
Vishal_s_kumar23 February 2010
Since Errol Flynn graced the screen in Captain Blood, the genre of swashbuckling, seafaring films have enjoyed great notariety. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a period piece with modern execution. From the standpoint of the story and cast, Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey is the ultimate star of Master and Commander. He conveys an authenticity and charisma that few actors currently possess, which allows him to pull off the Aubrey role so authoritatively. But there is an even more impressive star of the film--a star you will not see. Richard King was brought on board by director Peter Weir as "sound designer". His passion and technical expertise in audio engineering make the film a powerhouse cinematic experience, transporting viewers from their seats to a place onboard the British Navy ship, Surprise, off the coast of South America almost 200 years ago. More than any other aspect of the film, the realism and immersive quality of the audio puts the audience in the middle of the action. King won the Academy Award of Merit for Best Sound Editing for his work on Master and Commander. It was very well deserved.

Based on Patrick O'Brian's novels about Aubrey's adventures, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World follows the Surprise, as it battles the Acheron, a superior U.S.-made ship in Napoleon's navy. After a surprise attack by the Acheron during the film's opening scene, in which the British ship takes nearly insurmountable damage and barely slips away in the cover of fog, Captain "Lucky" Jack decides to go after the faster, stronger ship instead of returning to England. At first, the decision seems foolhearty, as the Acheron again surprises Aubrey. This time, he escapes under cover of darkness. But the story is more than a series of chase and battle scenes, entertaining as those prove to be. Several aspects of naval and ship service are explored.

Part of the story touches on concepts like religion and science in the prism of 19th century thought. The latter part of the film takes place in the Galápagos Islands where the ship's Irish doctor and naturalist, Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) convinces Aubrey to let him explore and collect specimens in a pre-Darwinian subplot. Unfortunately for Maturin, he makes an unexpected discovery that leads him to cut short his tour of the Galápagos. One of his specimens, an insect that looks like a twig, gives Aubrey the idea to disguise the Surprise, leading to the film's climax, an intense battle, featuring an extended sequence of intense hand-to-hand combat. It is worth asking if Master and Commander would have received more attention if it arrived in theaters at a different time than the much more successful Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Both feature "Captain Jack" characters, swashbuckling adventures on the open seas, and impressive battle scenes. Both films were very well executed, and it makes sense that a movie appealing to younger audiences would gross significantly more at the box office. The reality, though, is that audiences chose the equivalent of a theme park ride over an excellent series of books that easily could have spawned even better sequels to Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The biggest disappointment of the film is that there would be no follow-up Master and Commander to follow Lucky Jack's exploits in the service of England's navy. Instead, we got two insipid sequels to the Pirates film, neither of which rose to the level of the first. Too bad. I would much prefer a trilogy of Master and Commander films, but it was not to be.
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A cinematic masterclass in realism and acting
Essex_Rider7 May 2006
This is a wonderful film that speaks of a time when ships were wood and men were iron. The Royal Navy truly shaped the modern world we know and understand today. It was a time when our ships, Royal Navy, Merchantmen and indeed, Privateers, ruled the waves with their bravery, discipline and determination. Master and Commander is a true classic that will stand the test of time, because the era it speaks of is timeless. The performances were all magnificent but the real stars were the ships Surprise and Acharon. The detail was amazing and I really felt the Visual Effects team really should have received an Oscar, it was just unfortunate they were up against The Lord of the Rings that year. I rate this film very highly and would recommend it to anyone wishing to see a historically accurate and highly memorable piece of cinema.

10 out of 10
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