MEDiA: Mutiny On The Bounty, 1962

We started watching this ol’ Technicolour/Panavision epic – it’s three hours long! – tonight. We’ll split it over today and tomorrow.

There’s not a chance in Hell of watching it all one sitting these days. For starters Teresa would be asleep way before the creditors rolled. But I’m getting to bed earlier and earlier these day as well.

Trevor Howard is great as the martinet Bligh, whilst Brando is intriguing as Fletcher Christian, played here as a rather dandified fop. I’ll get to historical accuracy later. But in terms of setting up a fun movie dynamic, it bodes fine.

I mention this ‘cause the movie bombed, and was almost universally panned, at the time. It stalled Brando’s career for a decade (until The Godfather)! Watching it now it’s hard to see why.

One of the best things about it so far – and I’m typing this only half an hour into the movie, is the Bounty herself. A full size replica was built, at a cost of $750,000. And she’s a real beauty. No mistake!

There’s an interesting blog article (here) on the model Bounty, as used in the film. The scenes of the stormy failure to pass Cape Horn are superbly done. By now we’re about an hour into the film.

After just half of the movie, we’ve paused for the night. The crew are enjoying Tahiti, whilst Bligh stays on board, fuming. The McGuffin here, and a narrative spine of sorts, concerns a boffin from Kew, seeking to bring breadfruit back from The Tropics, as a new ‘superfood’.

It’s a bit uneven. But I think it is a classic of sorts. Not as an out and our masterpiece, far from it. But it is epic, in style and feel. And the effort that went into the production makes it a spectacle well worth viewing.

The Bounty replica, in later life.

Also of interest is the fate of the full sized working replica Bounty (read more about that here, which was ultimately lost at sea, with loss of lives, including the skipper. Who, in an echo of the movie, as Bligh is o j I’m portrayed here, makes a foolish command decision, to sail into foul weather.

Lost in Hurricane Sandy, 2012.

It’s the following day, now, Sunday. And we’ve watched the second half of the film. Or rather I have. Teresa fell asleep, as ever. But, returning to the film itself, as a rip-snorting Hollywood epic, I’m actually mightily impressed.

I suspect it’s a long long way from historically accurate. But I don’t care. If I want to know what really happened, I’m sure there are folk who’ve done the work finding out (as best as can be done), and I can explore that at some later point.

What this is, is melodrama, and grand spectacle. Or, in a word, entertainment. And as such, it’s really rather good. Apparently Brando’s posh British accent came in for some flak. So did Keanu’s, in Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But both are fine. Indeed, perfectly good.

And not only are their accents no real cause for criticism. Much more importantly, both films are excellent (albeit very different).

Some might disagree with me on this. But I’m just observing that American actors affecting posh British accents would have to do spectacularly appalling jobs to butcher either film – they have so much else going for them – and as it happens, neither of them do anyway.

I did worry for a moment that the post-mutiny part of the film – which it takes so long to build up to – might be a let down. And there is a slight deflation, or loss of dramatic pressure, so to speak, but the dramatic ending more than makes up for this.

All told, I’m rather baffled as to why this bombed at the time of release. It’s not only better than the average Hollywood fare of the era, it’s good enough to have stood the test of time, and remained highly watchable right down to our present times.

Oh, and to finish, another interesting footnote is that Brando and the actress who plays his Tahitian live interest did actually marry in real life, and have a family. And there’s lots more of interest, in that vein, if that intrigues you. Including murder! But I’ll leave it at that for now; bed beckons…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *