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Mutiny on the Bounty
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Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) (Blu-ray)
1787. HMS Bounty sets out on a journey through perilous seas to a tropical paradise…and into history as the one of the most ill-fated vessels in naval lore. Lewis Milestone (All Quiet on the Western Front) directs this color-drenched spectacular nominated for seven Academy Awards* including Best Picture. Filmed before in 1935 and again in 1984's The Bounty, the gripping story centers on first officer Fletcher Christian (Marlon Brando), a dandy transformed into a man of action, and Capt. William Bligh (Trevor Howard), uncompromising in his command or his cruelty. "Fear is [my] best weapon," Bligh proclaims. But it's also the most costly, driving men to desperation and mutiny. Richard Harris, Hugh Griffith and Richard Haydn also star in this epic adventure.]]>
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Mutiny of the Bounty (1962) starting Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard, Richard Harris, and Brando's third wife Tarita-- as the beautiful and exotic Tahitian princess--, is the second silver screen installment (1935 was the first one starting Clark Gable) of the famous mutiny that took place on board of a ship called Bounty on April 28, 1789. The ship's mission was to explore the Pacific island of Tahiti where a plant by the name of breadfruit was growing, and than transport the said crop to Jamaica where it was to be cultivated on mass scale to feed slaves.
The expedition was a failure, once in Tahiti many of the crewmen were taken by the paradise-like life and easy sexual exploits, totally forgetting about the mission. Some of them also felt contempt for the rigorous treatment and discipline executed by the main captain.
I must say that the 1962 version is my second favorite, right after Bounty (1984) starting Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson. The 80's version stays more true the real story of the mutineers and their leader Fletcher Christian. I still haven't seen the original 1935 version.
Interestingly, Brando met his third wife Tarita Terripaia on the set of the film, he was 38 and she was 20. He fell for her beauty, charm, and naivete stemming from her culture. The were married from 1962 to 1972.
This is truly one of the real classic motion picture stories ever put on film, all shot on location and with a stellar caste. Having visited Tahiti several of times in the past I was able to revisit many of the locations and it is as beautiful as depicted. Today they would probably do most of this using computer graphics and the story would have suffered because of it.
History tells a different story... but this version is a treat to the eyes and a joy to watch.
1. Brando, almost alone among the entire crew except perhaps Bligh and Fryer, never ever EVER loosens up during the entire voyage. For chrissakes, the man is wearing his dress uniform on PITCAIRN'S ISLAND near the end of the film- which is supposed to be more than TWO YEARS after the ship set sail from Spithead. And- hysterically-the breeches and shirtwaist of the uniform are still gleaming white- were British naval vessels of the 18th century known for their dry-cleaning services? Clark Gable and Mel Gibson had the good sense to dress down on occasion. Brando spends the entire film acting as if it's perpetually 60 degrees out and he has an audience with the Admiral of the Fleet in five minutes. At LEAST show some stains on his freaking uniform after TWO YEARS!
2. As usual, the actor portraying Bligh is TOO OLD, and the Bligh-Christian relationship involves a generation gap. In fact, Bligh was only 33 years old when the Bounty sailed- only a ten year difference between Bligh and Christian, not the 20 or more which is always portrayed in these films. Bligh looks like he could be Christian's father here.
3. The agonizingly long, painfully inaccurate death scene written for Brando at the end- it was as if the director didn't really want the film to end, and didn't know how to end it. Never mind the ridiculous "let's go back" scene- that's been covered, and it's only slightly more offensive than the "Some Say Christian returned safely to England" line at the end of 1985's THE BOUNTY. We KNOW Christian never considered returning to England, was quite happy establishing a life for himself and his wife and child on Pitcairn's Island, and was murdered during the white-native civil war which erupted on the island in 1793. PERIOD.
Two stars instead of one because the photography is truly spectacular, and it is certainly the most gorgeous of the three attempts to turn the classic novel into a film.