Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
| Master and Commander:|
The Far Side of the World
|Directed by||Peter Weir|
|Written by|| Peter Weir|
adapted from novels by Patrick O'Brian
|Starring|| Russell Crowe|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release date||November 14 2003|
Table of contents
2003 National Board of Review
- #10 Film of the Year
The film's DVD release contains behind-the-scenes material giving useful insights into the film-making process. Great efforts were made to reproduce the authentic look and feel of life aboard an early 19th century man of war. Some of the filming actually took place at sea on board Rose (a reproduction of the 18th century frigate HMS Rose), while other scenes were shot on a full-scale replica mounted on gimbals in a large tank. There was a third HMS Surprise which was a scale model built by Weta Workshop. A storm sequence was enhanced using digitally-composited footage of waves actually shot on board a modern replica of Cook's Endeavour rounding Cape Horn. All of the actors were given a thorough grounding in the naval life of the period in order to make their performances as authentic as possible.
The film is based on the Aubrey–Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian and includes episodes from several novels in the series. The plot of the film, in which Aubrey in HMS Surprise chases an enemy frigate round Cape Horn into the Pacific, is based loosely on The Far Side of the World, but the American frigate USS Norfolk in the book becomes the French privateer Acheron in the film. The episode of deception of the enemy by means of a raft bearing lanterns is taken from from Master and Commander; the episode in which Maturin operates on himself to remove a bullet is taken from HMS Surprise.
The movie's success and the wide-open ending has led to credible speculation about a sequel, although it is not known whether Weir would wish to direct.
- The exploit of setting up a decoy of a large ship at night by attaching lights to a small boat was executed by the French privateer Robert Surcouf to successfully escape the British frigate HMS Sybille. It was also used by Lord Cochrane and described in his Autobiography of a Seaman. That autobiography was used by Patrick O'Brian as source material for his novel Master and Commander, in which Jack Aubrey's first command, HMS Sophie, escapes by using this tactic. The same ruse is featured in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, where it is the HMS Surprise which escapes the Acheron using this trick.
- In the movie, Stephen Maturin inadvertantly gives Jack Aubrey the inspiration to disguise the HMS Surprise as a merchant ship to fool an enemy, implying that this is a new idea for Aubrey. However, in the first Aubrey/Maturin book Master and Commander, Aubrey regularly uses this tactic on his very first command, and it is described as a common tactic used by warships to approach unsuspecting targets and avoid attention from larger enemy ships.