The Bounty


The Bounty

Infobox Film
name = The Bounty



caption = Original film poster
director = Roger Donaldson
producer = Bernard Williams
Dino De Laurentiis
writer = Robert Bolt
Richard Hough (book)
starring = Mel Gibson
Anthony Hopkins
Laurence Olivier
Edward Fox
Daniel Day-Lewis
Liam Neeson
music = Vangelis
cinematography = Arthur Ibbetson, BSC
editing = Tony Lawson
distributor = Orion Pictures Corporation
Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment
released = USA 4 May 1984
runtime = 132 min
country = UK
awards =
language = English
budget =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
amg_id = 1:6798
imdb_id = 0086993

"The Bounty" is a 1984 historical film made by Dino De Laurentiis Productions and distributed by Orion Pictures Corporation and Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment. It was directed by Roger Donaldson and produced by Bernard Williams with Dino De Laurentiis as executive producer. The screenplay was by Robert Bolt and was based on the book "Captain Bligh and Mr. Christian" (1972) by Richard Hough. The music score was composed by Vangelis and the cinematography was by Arthur Ibbetson.

The film stars Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins with Laurence Olivier, Edward Fox, Daniel Day-Lewis, Bernard Hill, Philip Davis, Liam Neeson, John Sessions and Neil Morrissey.

The film is based on the real life story of Captain William Bligh, against whom a mutiny is led by Master's Mate Fletcher Christian.

Differences from earlier versions

This is the fifth film version of the story of the mutiny on the "Bounty".

The first version, an Australian silent film, "The Mutiny of the Bounty" was made in 1916. The second, "In the Wake of the Bounty" (1933) was another Australian production, starring Errol Flynn in his film debut.

The third and more famous version, "The Mutiny on the Bounty" (1935), starred Clark Gable, Charles Laughton and Franchot Tone. The fourth, a remake of the third film, released in 1962, starred Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard and Richard Harris. Both versions were produced by MGM, the current rights holder of this version. This version is generally regarded as a more revisionist as well as historically accurate depiction of the mutiny than the two earlier film versions. According to director Donaldson,

"The major difference between our film and the other versions is that none of the others pointed out that Bligh and Christian were friends. They'd made voyages together before they sailed on the "Bounty". And while they were on the "Bounty", Bligh demoted another officer and promoted Christian, who was at that stage nothing but a midshipman, and made him second in command. What interested me was to explore how their relationship deteriorated from that point to where Christian leads a mutiny against Bligh." [cite news | title = Buoyed by Fresh Insight, “The Bounty” Sails Again | author = Stephen Farber | publisher = New York Times | date = 1984-04-29]
Unlike earlier versions, this film did not portray Bligh as a villainous character, and it paints a far less heroic portrait of Christian. In Gibson’s description, “Fletcher was just a lad of twenty-two and he behaved like one. The first time he decided to test his horns and fight for the herd, it was a mistake. He shouldn't have done it.” The film also portrays the sailors exploiting the islanders. Gibson said, “It was a complete culture shock and it was unbelievable to them. It was paradise in terms of personal freedoms - freedoms that shouldn't have been taken advantage of. They exploited the people, fooled them, and didn't tell them the whole truth.” [cite news | title = Mel Gibson| author = Terry Poulton | publisher = Close Up | date = Summer 1984] Gibson chose to suddenly erupt in violent emotion during the mutiny scene because eyewitness accounts had described Christian as 'extremely agitated' and 'sweating and crying.' [cite news | title = Is Mel Gibson Australian or American? | author = Bob Thomas | publisher = Associated Press | date = 1984-05-04]

Production

This version was originally a longstanding project of director David Lean and his frequent collaborator, Robert Bolt, who worked on it from 1977 until 1980. It was originally to be released as a two-part film, one named "The Lawbreakers" that dealt with the voyage out to Tahiti and the subsequent mutiny, and the second named "The Long Arm" that studied the journey of the mutineers after the mutiny, as well as the admiralty's response in sending out the frigate HMS "Pandora" and her famous box in which some of the mutineers were imprisoned. Sadly, Lean could not find financial backing for both films after Warner Bros. withdrew from the project. He decided to combine it into one, and even looked at a seven-part TV series. The project suffered a further setback when Bolt suffered a massive stroke and was unable to continue writing. Melvyn Bragg ended up writing a considerable portion of the script. Lean was ultimately forced to abandon the project. [http://lean.bfi.org.uk/material.php?theme=2&title=bounty] The replica of the "Bounty" used in the film was built before the script was even completed at the cost of $4 million, and the entire film cost $25 million. However, unlike many other films filmed on water, "The Bounty" was finished under budget. [cite news | title = Buoyed by Fresh Insight, “The Bounty” Sails Again | author = Stephen Farber | publisher = New York Times | date = 1984-04-29] As well as the New Zealand–built "Bounty", Lean had also looked at refitting the frigate "Rose" to play the role of "Pandora". She has since gone on to become HMS "Surprise" in Peter Weir's "". For the storm sequences a detailed 25-foot model of the "Bounty" was built.

The film was shot on location in Moorea, French Polynesia, New Zealand and at Greenwich Palace and the Reform Club, Pall Mall, London.

Anthony Hopkins was one of two actors considered for the role of Captain Bligh by David Lean. The other was Oliver Reed. Christopher Reeve, Sting and David Essex were considered for the role of Fletcher Christian. The role of Peter Heywood was originally intended to be played by Hugh Grant.

Work is understood to remain ongoing on attempting to make another film that does tell the story of the mutineers, and the violent beginnings of their new colony.

Plot

:"For the historical events, see Mutiny on the Bounty"This version follows both the efforts of Fletcher Christian (Mel Gibson) to get his men beyond the reach of British retribution, and the epic voyage of Captain Bligh (Anthony Hopkins) to get his loyalists safely to East Timor in a tiny lifeboat.

The mission

Setting out from Britain in December 1787 for the Pacific island of Tahiti to gather breadfruit pods for transplantation in the Caribbean (as slave fodder), the "Bounty" sailed west to round the tip of south America, but failed, due to harsh weather, and had to take the longer eastern route. Finally arriving in Tahiti in October 1788, Bligh found that due to the delays the wind was against him for a quick return journey, so he decided to stay on the island for four months longer than originally planned.

In that time, it would be fair to say that ship discipline became problematic, and many of the crew developed a taste for the easy pleasures that island life afforded.

Bligh

In this movie, Bligh, who at the time of the voyage wasn't, technically, a full captain, but a lieutenant, isn't (initially) shown as a cruel tyrant, but instead is shown as a traditional British naval captain and a man of his times. While the discipline was sometimes harsh (though no harsher than on many naval ships of the time) Bligh seems to be no worse than the crew, and is portrayed as somewhat of a hero when he guides the overcrowded boat of loyal non-mutineers to safety without any firearms or navigational equipment.

The crew

The crew is portrayed in a different light than the previous films. They are shown as a group of typical 18th-century sailors—a much more "rough and tumble" group, some of whom use the "might-is-right" principle to impose a hierarchy of sorts below decks. Their motivations in this film were not as noble as in the other two films. Previous films portrayed the crew's desire for freedom from Bligh's oppressive behavior; in this version of the film a desire to return to a life of ease and sexual excess is shown to be one of the primary motivations behind the mutiny. Also, they are shown as having more responsibility than they did in the other versions of the film.

Fletcher Christian

He is a much more complex character than in prior films. At first Christian and Bligh are friends, in fact Bligh asks Christian to sail for a second time with him. But both men turn against each other over the course of the film. Matters become worse when the ship leaves Tahiti as Fletcher had been forced to leave his wife Mauatua behind. Christian's Tahitian wife is given as more of a reason that Fletcher led the mutiny than before. Fletcher shows regret over what had happened, and tells another mutineer that he wished to God that he had supplied Bligh with muskets.

The "Bounty" leaves Tahiti

The resumption of naval discipline, and a Bligh who has suddenly turned into a tyrant who will not tolerate any disobedience whatsoever, creates an atmosphere of tension and violence. Corporal punishment is meted out for the slightest offence. Many of the men, including Christian, are singled out for severe, even hysterical tongue-lashings by Bligh. His intention to round Cape Horn once again in attempts to circumnavigate the globe pushes the crew to the breaking point. This is the one major innacuracy in the film. The "Bounty" would have been heading against the prevailing currents and winds to have headed south. The cold temperatures around the horn would also have killed the plants. The script writers added the scene to try and condense the growing tension aboard as Bligh struggled to try and restore discipline aboard the ship. Effectively he was not being supported by his officers and hence the crew were not functioning as a unit. Bligh could see it affecting the safety (and cleanliness) aboard the ship but could not really do anything about it.

The mutiny

Playing on Christian's obvious resentment against Bligh's treatment of both him and the men, the more militant members of the crew finally persuade Christian to take control of the ship. Bligh is roused from his bed and arrested, along with those considered loyal to him, and all of them are forced into the ship's launch, minimally supplied, and cast adrift.

Blissfully happy at their new-found freedom (though Christian feels remorse, and understands the implications of what's been done) they naively sail back to Tahiti to collect their wives, girlfriends, and native friends. King Tynah, however, is shocked by this turn of events. He makes them aware that, as mutineers, their presence on the island could incite King George to declare war against Tahiti and against his people. Realising the folly of staying, though some do, they gather supplies and will sail away to try and find a safe refuge. Christian pleads with Tynah to allow Mauatua to decide her own destiny. Tynah concedes, and Mauatua chooses the uncertainty of a life with Christian over remaining with her father but without her husband.

Bligh's journey

Bligh, through courage and excellent seamanship - and also a return of his good character and leadership qualities - successfully manages to reach civilization after a very harrowing journey. One man was killed by savages as the crew stopped for supplies in a hostile island.

Final voyage of the "Bounty"

The search for a safe haven is long and seemingly impossible, as they all realise that any pursuing RN vessels will search all known islands and coastlines to find them. By this point, those that remained on board the "Bounty" are so frustrated that they are ready to rebel against Christian in order to turn the ship back towards Tahiti. After Christian forces the crew to continue on, they soon find Pitcairn Island, a place which Christian realises may not be marked on British maps of the region, as it is a relatively new discovery.

As the crew of the "Bounty" burn the ship to keep it from being found, the judgement of Bligh's court martial is read - Bligh is found to have not been responsible for the loss of the "Bounty", and is commended for the voyage of the open launch.

Critical response

The film received mixed reviews, many liking the film for realism and historical accuracy as well as being an entertaining film. However, many were disappointed with the film, especially given its distinguished cast. Many critics singled out Gibson's performance as bland, particularly when compared to the performances given by Clark Gable and Marlon Brando in the two earlier MGM versions.

Roger Ebert gave the film a very impressive review, stating, "this "Bounty" is not only a wonderful movie, high-spirited and intelligent, but something of a production triumph as well." [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19840101/REVIEWS/401010315/1023]

Vincent Canby of the "New York Times" expressed the opposite view stating "Both Bligh and Christian are unfinished characters in a screenplay that may or may not have been tampered with...The movie seems to have been planned, written, acted, shot and edited by people who were constantly being overruled by other people. It's totally lifeless. [http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?_r=1&res=9C05E6D9143AF937A35756C0A962948260&oref=slogin]

Cast


* Mel Gibson as Master's Mate Fletcher Christian
* Anthony Hopkins as Lt. William Bligh
* Laurence Olivier as Admiral Hood
* Edward Fox as Capt. Greetham
* Daniel Day-Lewis as Sailing Master John Fryer
* Bernard Hill as Boatswain William Cole
* Phil Davis as Midshipman Edward "Ned" Young
* Liam Neeson as Charles Churchill, Ship's Corporal
* Wi Kuki Kaa as King Tynah
* Tevaite Vernette as Mauatua
* Philip Martin Brown as Able Seaman John Adams
* Simon Chandler as David Nelson, Botanist
* Malcolm Terris as Dr. Thomas Huggan, Ship's Surgeon
* Simon Adams as Midshipman Peter Heywood
* John Sessions as Steward John Smith
* Andrew Wilde as Able Seaman William McCoy
* Neil Morrissey as Able Seaman Matthew Quintal
* Richard Graham as Gunner's Mate John Mills
* Dexter Fletcher as Able Seaman Thomas Ellison
* Pete Lee-Wilson as Carpenter William Purcell
* Jon Gadsby as Quartermaster John Norton
* Brendan Conroy as Robert Lamb, Butcher
* Barry Dransfield as Able Seaman Michael Byrne
* Steve Fletcher as Able Seaman James Valentine

Historical errors

Advisor Stephan Walters was responsible for much of the film’s great attention to historical detail. However, director Ronald Donaldson also noted that dramatic license was taken in the areas where people do not know what really happened. Despite the praise the film has received for correcting some of the mythology of previous versions, it is by no means perfect in its historical accuracy.

*Admiral Hood is shown presiding at Bligh's court martial for the loss of the "Bounty" at a location presumably intended to represent the Admiralty building. In reality Hood did preside at the court martial of the alleged mutineers in 1792 but not at Bligh's in 1790. In addition both court martials were actually held aboard warships at anchor.

*Several times in the dialogue the rank of Lieutenant is spoken with the American pronunciation "Loo-tenant" instead of the appropriate British version "Lef-tenant".

*Australia is mentioned in the dialogue even though it would be more than a decade before Matthew Flinders would promote that name for what was then known as New Holland.

*The "Bounty"'s logbook is shown with the phrase "H.M.A.V. Bounty, her log" on the front cover and on the title page even though that abbreviation was unknown at the time.

ee also

* Mutiny
* Mutiny on the Bounty
* "Mutiny on the Bounty (novel)"
* "In the Wake of the Bounty"
* "Mutiny on the Bounty (1935 film)"
* "Mutiny on the Bounty (1962 film)"
* William Bligh
* Fletcher Christian

External links

*imdb title|id=0086993
* [http://www.solarnavigator.net/mutiny_on_the_bounty.htm Mutiny on the Bounty] - review of 1935, 1962 and 1984 films
* [http://film.virtual-history.com/film.php?filmid=480 Movie stills]

References


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