And one again hubby and me watched a movie classic since we’re appaled by what’s coming out of Hollywood these days. The inspiration to watch MotB came upon me when I stumbled at an article in our local newspaper:
Anyway, we’re here to discuss movies, no?
The Bounty leaves Portsmouth in 1787. Its destination: to sail to Tahiti and load bread-fruit. Captain Bligh will do anything to get there as fast as possible, using any means to keep up a strict discipline. When they arrive at Tahiti, it is like a paradise for the crew, something completely different than the living hell aboard the ship. On the way back to England, officer Fletcher Christian becomes the leader of a mutiny.
And yet again I gotta say in the three short years from 1959 (Ben Hur) to 1962 (Bounty) the movie industry developed in leaps and bounds. Many of the charges are still mercilessly overacting but the drama and the dialogues are so much tighter and more believable. Hadn’t we suffer thru an overture (like in Ben Hur) watching MotB would’ve been almost like watching a modern day movie … well, almost. Okay, MotB is another overlong 3 hours maximus opus, so we allow such vanities.
Of course Marlon Brando’s Fletcher Christian character is introduced as the silly billy upperclass brat, entitlement happy and hardly taking his humourless captain earnest. Which lays the foundations for future trouble and the mutiny pretty early on in the movie.
And here we come to the strongest point of the movie: MotB can’t really make its mind up about the characters of Fletcher Christian and Captain Bligh. While Bligh is a very disciplined captain, who’s hard on the crew, Christian is more the jovial type, the life of the party. Still he stands behind the captain, at least in the beginning. And when he finally starts the mutiny it’s not because the captain is too hard on one of the sailors but because Bligh attacks him personally. So we’re shown Christian’s purely self-serving, impulsive nature.
At the same time we realize Bligh ain’t the monster as which he was made out by the crew, but just a very disciplined and exceedingly capable seafarer. Even his punishments of crew members were nothing spectacular at the time. And I guess the keel hauling is just a figment of imagination by the screen writers. We can’t thank the filmmakers enough for trying to show us a non-biased, almost true account of the historical happenings.
Of course, in hindsight, seeing with modern eyes, this is a kitschy movie with hamfisted portrayal of characters and drama, almost too placative. On the other hand it’s reasonably well made with very beautiful filmography and nicely blocked scenes in parts. And it becomes clear that the famed mutiny was indeed nothing but a father/son conflict between two highly disturbed individuals. Of course MotB is still dwarfed by the mega project that was Ben Hur but it’s still a giant production for the early 1960s.
And, most important for a movie, for any movie really: MotB was entertaining on a whole different level than Ben Hur was. The drama was much tighter, it didn’t look so laborious and cramped but had a good flow and pacing. Quite contrary to Ben Hur MotB is fun to watch and aged definately better than its biblical, horse carriage racing counterpart.
CONCLUSION: After all these years MotB is still an exciting naval adventure and personal conflict movie.
WATCH IT: Yes!
WHAT DO THE EXPERTS SAY?
Not much. Maybe because of MotB’s age I couldn’t find any real review but only this …
And of course a trailer:
And a nicely detailed historical documentary:
And a lecture:
And some bullshity doccies: