|Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins|
THE BOUNTY (1984). Director: Roger Donaldson.
Although it is based on the same real-life events as the 1935 Mutiny on the Bounty, this version is in some ways a very different animal. The picture begins with Bligh's trial and then flashes back to the story of the mutiny. Unlike Charles Laughton's portrayal in the original film, this film's Bligh, as played by Anthony Hopkins, has a great deal of charm, and hardly comes off like the utterly cruel martinet essayed by Laughton-- in fact, we see no particular "cruelties" at all until the second half when they seem more like the rough justice of the period. On the trip to Tahiti, Bligh risks the ship and its crew in his bid to circumnavigate the globe and go through the stormy seas of Cape Horn. His decision to try again on the trip back is one of the things that leads to the mutiny [although this is not supposed to be historically accurate]. The book this is based on, Captain Bligh and Mr. Christian, posits the completely unsubstantiated if fascinating theory that Bligh and Christian had been lovers, and the former objected to the latter's impregnating and marrying a Tahitian lass, but while a few scenes barely hint at this it goes unexplored [probably to the disappointment --or relief -- of the homophobic Gibson]. Hopkins is quite good, but he can't compare to the more ferocious and mesmerizing Laughton. Gibson is okay, although one could argue that he displays sullen looks that pass for acting; he has his moments, though. Edward Fox, Laurence Olivier, Daniel Day-Lewis, and especially Liam Neeson are notable in the supporting cast. The film is beautifully photographed by Arthur Ibbetson; Vangelis' plastic musical background is occasionally pleasant but far from a score by Steiner, Korngold or the like.
Verdict: Good to look at and reasonably entertaining. ***.