Directed by Roger Donaldson
Based on the novel by Richard Hough
Screenplay by Robert Bolt
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Mel Gibson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson, Edward Fox
This is the fifth and most recent adaptation of the classic novel “Captain Bligh and Mr. Christian” by Richard Hough. This time the story was adapted by Robert Bolt (Lawrence of Arabia), who used much of the historical record to recreate the events of the Bounty. Roger Donaldson (The Recruit) took on the job of director for this film account of the events of the historic mutiny.
Lieutenant William Bligh (Hopkins) has been tasked going to Tahiti to bring breadfruit back to England. After a failed attempt to pass around the horn of South America, Bligh and his crew are forced to remain in Tahiti for four months longer than expected. During their stay, the crew begins to get restless and Bligh’s disciplinary measures begin to draw resentment. With his friend and Master’s Mate Fletcher Christian (Gibson) turning on him, the crew is soon divided. This division soon turns to mutiny and threatens the lives of everyone on the Bounty.
This is a wonderful adaptation of the novel by Richard Hough. Robert Bolt took time to study the history and even used the Captain’s Log from the Bounty to recreate the events of this ill-fated voyage. This is earned the approval of historians, who tend to agree that this film has a very high level of accuracy with the real events. The screenplay also does a great job equalizing the characters in the film. Although Hopkins and Gibson are definitely the main characters in the film, there is equal attention given to a number of the crew members.
The cast for this film includes a number of huge names. In addition to Anthony Hopkins (Thor: The Dark World) and Mel Gibson (Edge of Darkness), the film also features film legend Laurence Olivier (Rebecca). The cast also features Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List), and Edward Fox (Gandhi). This strong lineup of talented men really seems to bring the story to life. Hopkins brings a great amount of authenticity to his work. In lesser roles, Daniel Day-Lewis and Liam Neeson are equally good. Mel Gibson is also great, really contrasting his performance to that of Hopkins. This dynamic is especially important to the story since their characters are often at odds with one another.
The settings and the ship used in this film are wonderful. The ship was a full-sized replica of the Bounty that was constructed for the movie. The filming was done largely on location. This included work in Moorea, French Polynesia, London, and New Zealand. Each of the locations was perfectly chosen to bring out the beauty of the places the men visited. This also works to contrast the story with the locations as the tension and anger builds.
This is a really great movie. I think it might move a bit slow for some viewers, but if you’re a fan of historically based films, this should be one you’ll enjoy. I would also recommend this to fans of the stars, with great performances coming from all of them. This is also one for fans of drama, adventure, and even suspense. I give this one 4.2 out of 5 stars.