Master and Commander:The Far Side of the World

Capt. Jack Aubrey: Russell Crowe
Dr. Stephen Maturin: Paul Bettany
Lord Blakeney: Max Pirkis
Barrett Bonden: Billy Boyd
Lt. Thomas Pullings: James D’Arcy
Mr. Hogg: Mark Lewis Jones
Marine Capt. Howard: Chris Larkin
Mr. Higgins: Richard McCabe
Mr. Allen Robert Pugh

Twentieth Century Fox/Universal/Miramax presents a film directed by Peter Weir. Written by Weir and John Collee. Based on the novels by Patrick O’Brian. Running time: 139 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for intense battle sequences, related images and brief language).

Central Theme
In war, living purposefully requires a cause bigger than oneself and a submission of personal ambition to that cause, all personal plans become subject to the requests of service.

H.M.S. Surprise,
28 guns.
197 souls
Coast of Brazil, April 1805

“¢â‚¬¦ Intercept French Privateer, Acheron ¢â‚¬¦ you will sink, burn or take her a prize”

MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD stars Academy Award‚® winner Russell Crowe (“Gladiator”), with three-time Oscar‚® nominee Peter Weir directing. Crowe is “Lucky” Jack Aubrey, who pits his crew of the H.M.S. Surprise against a much better armed and ruthless enemy, in a chase that takes him to the far side of the world. Rising newcomer Paul Bettany (“A Beautiful Mind”) plays the ship’s surgeon, Dr. Stephen Maturin. The film is based upon the acclaimed and best-selling novels by Patrick O’Brian.

Peter Weir received Academy Award nominations for Best Director for “Witness” and “Dead Poets Society.” Among his many other noteworthy films are “The Truman Show,” “The Year of Living Dangerously,” “Gallipoli” and “The Mosquito Coast.” Russell Crowe, in addition to his Oscar win for “Gladiator,” received Academy Award nominations for “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Insider.” ‚© Twentieth Century Fox/Universal/Miramax.

There are concurrent battles in this film, the historical tussle of French and British, but what makes Patrick O’Brian’s series work is the battle of wills and ideas concentrated chiefly in Aubrey and Maturin.

Roger Ebert observes: “The film centers on the spirits of two men, Capt. Jack Aubrey and ship’s surgeon Stephen Maturin. Readers of O’Brian’s 20 novels know them as friends and opposites — Aubrey, the realist, the man of action; Maturin, more intellectual and pensive. Each shares some of the other’s qualities, and their lifelong debate represents two sides of human nature. There’s a moment in “Master and Commander” when Maturin’s hopes of collecting rare biological specimens are dashed by Aubrey’s determination to chase a French warship, and the tension between them at that moment defines their differences.”

This study of war on the microcosm of a friendship and macro level of nation versus nation, allows O’Brian to tease out the differing ideas, philosophies and values resident in every human struggle. What is the nature and purpose of war? What is at stake? What is true leadership? How does one order one’s personal life around a goal and vision involving others? What is the nature of camaraderie? What ultimate values drive individual and corporate/communal life?

In addition to the relevance of these reflections in times of war, it is also interesting to reflect on them in light of Jesus and Paul’s recognition of the disciple of Jesus as one involved in a “spiritual war.” In this spiritual war the disciple faces a crafty enemy, must be properly equipped for war (Paul lists the weapons of warfare in Ephesians 6), and must have a total devotion and loyalty to Jesus, recognizing that “I do not command a private yacht.” (Echo of Paul’s ¢â‚¬Ëœyou are not your own you’ve been bought with a price’). When Aubrey rouses the troops with “do you want to see a guillotine in Piccadilly” it raises the issue of the enemy establishing a beachhead on territory belonging to one’s master, Again, some interesting metaphorical territory. The use of “disguise” also reminds one of a spiritual war in which “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Beliefs num
–There is a camaraderie in war.
–The enemy can be crafty.
–When overmatched you must employ creative strategies.
–You can win even when overmatched.
–In war, complete loyalty to your master is required.
–In war, personal wishes must yield to the needs of the mission.
–To the victor goes the spoils.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–What are the artistic merits of this film?
–What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
–What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
–What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?

Provocative Quotes byline
–ATTENTION: WE make every effort to assure the accuracy of provocative quotes. If you find an inaccurate quote please use report them by using the link at the end of the quotes section. Thanks.
==CW Staff.
–They had the weather gauge, but we had the weather gods.
–We’re not going home.
==After near defeat Aubrey will take on bigger ship, make repairs at sea.
–To take her? She’s out of our class.
==Advisors arguing for not engaging.
–The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. It’s the devil ship I tell you.
==Old crewman (hold fast tattooed on fingers)
–He’s going to make it. It’s going to sink us.
==Captain faces choice of saving one drowning crew member of saving the whole crew.
–That man was a casualty of war¢â‚¬¦You had to choose between the lesser of two evils.
== Maturin.
–It is not a matter of pride. It is a matter of duty, regardless of the cost.
–Did God make this change? Certainly. But did they change themselves? That is the question.
== Maturin about evolving of the species on Galapagos.
–I captain the King’s ship, not a private yacht. I do not have time for your damn hobby sir.
–Aubrey to Maturin.
–Do you want to see a guillotine in Piccadilly? Do you want your children growing up and singing the Marseillaise?
==Aubrey rallies the troops for battle.
–I can harness the wind but I am not it’s goddam creator,
==Aubrey after days of no wind.
–Sailors can abide a great deal…but not a Jonah.
==Aubrey sees a fear in the crew that they are cursed because there is a Jonah on board.
–Not all of us become the man we hoped we might be¢â‚¬¦but we are all God’s creatures.
–Name a shrub after me; something prickly and hard to eradicate.
==Aubrey to Maturin as he explores Galapagos.
–It disguises itself as stick in order to confuse it’s predators.
== Maturin about an insect, suggesting a combat idea to Aubrey.
–This ship is England.
==Aubrey rallies troops for battle.
–Subject to the requests of the service.
==Audrey’s motto and rule for life.
–Patrick O’Brian’s prose is magnificent. He’s a writer of the first order. Of course, this was one of the most challenging aspects about adapting his work. When you adapt any book, the words fall out onto the table and you have to replace the prose with images. It has been a great challenge to tell this story visually in a way that does justice to O’Brian’s words.
==Peter Wier
–I surrounded myself with artifacts of the period as I worked on the script ¢€œ swords, belt-buckles, maps, hoping to draw down the muse,” Weir continues. “Music was another aid, as I groped in the dark, trying to find my way back in time.
==Peter Wier.
–That’s what Peter does brilliantly well, as in Witness and The Truman Show. He wanted MASTER AND COMMANDER: The Far Side of the World to create a floating universe.
==Co-screenwriter John Collee, on Weir’s consummate ability to create vivid, enclosed worlds.
–Like the work of David Lean, it achieves the epic without losing sight of the human, and to see it is to be reminded of the way great action movies can rouse and exhilarate us, can affirm life instead of simply dramatizing its destruction.
==Roger Ebert

If you find an inaccurate quote please send corrections to

  • CultureWatch:

  • Posted in Movies, Staublog in October 1, 2003 by | No Comments »

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.

    + 15 = 16

    More from Staublog