Released: December 4 2003
Cast: Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Billy Boyd, James D'Arcy, Lee Ingleby, George Innes, Mark Lewis Jones, Chris Larkin, Richard McCabe, Robert Pugh, David Threlfall, Max Pirkis, Edward Woodall, Ian Mercer, Max Benitz
Director: Peter Weir
Running Time: 138 Minutes
Three-time Academy Award® directing nominee Peter Weir and Oscar winner Russell Crowe join forces to create an epic, emotional adventure: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Based on author Patrick O'Brian's series of Aubrey/Maturin novels, the movie is set during the Napoleonic Wars. Crowe is Captain "Lucky" Jack Aubrey, renowned as a fighting captain in the British Navy, and Paul Bettany is ship's doctor Stephen Maturin. Their ship, the H.M.S. Surprise, is suddenly attacked by a superior enemy. With the Surprise badly damaged and much of his crew injured, Aubrey is torn between duty and friendship as he pursues a high-stakes chase across two oceans, to intercept and capture his foe. It's a mission that can make his reputation - or destroy Lucky Jack and his crew.
In the course of the characters' epic journey, the movie travels the world - from the coast of Brazil to the storm-tossed waters of Cape Horn, south through ice and snow, to the far side of the world, to the remote shores of the Galapagos Islands.
Remarkable. Brilliant. Fantastic. It is hard to find enough superlatives to summarise a film of this quality. It is also hard to find enough superlatives to summarise Russell Crowe's performance. There was so much planning and research that went into this movie and it shows. It is the first feature film to use the Galapagos Islands. The Islands are the only time the men aboard the HMS Surprise set foot on land in the movie, giving them a well deserved break from ship life and time to renew their commitment to being on board the Surprise.
Russell Crowe is simply stunning as Captain Jack Aubrey. He has created a man of mixed emotions, a man desperately serving his country whilst always remaining in control. He is as good as ever, equalling his Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind roles. Crowe spent time learning the violin, studied nautical history and learned a specific type of sword fighting relevant to the era. His dedication to becoming the character shows and also highlights his amazing versatility as an actor.
Paul Bettany also put in long hours in preparation for his role as the surgeon, Dr. Stephan Maturin. He ventured to the Royal College of Surgeons in London to study medical procedures that would have been used at the time. Bettany and Crowe have a wonderful chemistry on screen, which became apparent when they worked together on A Beautiful Mind. They just fit together so well and make the relationship between the captain and surgeon so believable.
Peter Weir, as director, also spent months in preparation for the movie. Attention to detail was always uppermost in his mind. He set out to create and epic and has succeeded admirably. From using the same giant 6½ acre tank as Titanic to film the sequences aboard the Surprise, to building the Surprise from scratch, Weir set total historical authenticity as a priority.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a movie steeped in history, in detail, in intensity. It is draining to watch as you feel you are on the ship Surprise, and along with the crew, are subjected to the stresses continually thrown aboard. But it is a wonderful voyage, a trip to remember and definitely an adventure not to be missed.
- Christina Bruce