Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


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. ***.


Neil A Russell said...

Only related by title to this one, but the movie prop ship "Bounty" from the Brando version just went down off the coast of North Carolina.
As of the latest reports, the "Bounty" was awash in high seas but still upright and floating.
14 crewmembers have been rescued with 2 still missing in the rough water.
An all-out search and rescue mission continues for the missing crew.
Some details here from our local Savannah, GA TV station:
I certainly hope all the crew will be rescued and if the weather permits that the ship can be saved as well.

William said...

I hope so as well. Thanks for the info.

I've ordered the Brando version as I'm anxious to see how it compares to the others.

Just finished reading "The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty" and found it fascinating. Bligh was hardly the bleak villain he has been portrayed as for decades.

Martytheyellowking said...

Sorry,but this version kicks ass over the others.Hopkins is outstanding,as is Gibson,Day-Lewis,Neeson,Olivier etc..Vangelis' score is amazing also

William said...

Well, to each his own. Have you seen the other versions? Not a big fan of Vangelis, I must say.

In any case, thanks for your comments!