Tomorrow: Flauti's monthly Spanish film recap!
The Bounty (1984):
There have been several well-known film versions of the
mutiny on board the HMS Bounty during the return portion of an
expedition to Tahiti in 1789. Fletcher Christian, the leader
of the mutineers, has been played by such screen legends as
Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, and Marlon Brando. This particular
version of the story features Mel Gibson in the Christian
role, and Anthony Hopkins as William Bligh, the legal
commander of the ship. The impressive supporting cast also
includes Laurence Olivier, Daniel Day-Lewis and Liam Neeson.
Ambitious? You bet. It not only
features big stars, but a big story as well. The historical
details of the story are so complex that
Nordhoff and Hall required three books to tell the whole tale.
The first volume told of the actual mutiny. The second
recounted Captain Cook's sail to safety in an open launch
after he was set adrift from the Bounty. This was one of the
most miraculous acts of seamanship in history. Bligh managed
to traverse 3600 miles of open sea in an overcrowded boat,
with nothing but a sextant and a watch, and he lost not a
single member of his 18 loyal crewmen at sea. The third
Nordhoff/Hall volume followed the fate of the mutineers after
their insurrection, including the establishment and ultimate
failure of their new society on remote, uncharted, unpopulated
The 1984 film uses as a framing device
the hearing in which the Royal Navy examined Bligh's
responsibility for the loss of his ship. Various and assorted
admirals and other stuffy old bewigged fellows huff and puff
about while Bligh pleads his case. This hearing was not based
on a presumption of irresponsibility on Bligh's part, but was
an automatic proceeding under British law, and Bligh was
ultimately exonerated of any wrongdoing after he told his
story, which we see in flashbacks. Somehow we also manage to
see something of Fletcher's men post-mutiny as well, although
Bligh could not be narrating their story to the court. The
story ends with the mutineers burning the Bounty, symbolically
separating themselves from England forever. Their ultimate
fate is not addressed, not are the fates of the other men,
loyalists and mutineers alike, who stayed behind on Tahiti to
face their eventual courts-martial in England.
This version is generally believed to
be the closest any film has come to the historical truth. The
earlier versions of the story were based to some degree or
another on the Nordhoff/Hall works, and those tended to
portray Bligh as a ruthless taskmaster in contrast to
Christian the compassionate hero. That inaccurate perspective
is basically the result of Christian's brother having won the
public relations battle with William Bligh back in England.
Although the courts sided with Bligh, and he is considered to
have been a fair man and a rather lenient disciplinarian by
the standards of the day, he was an acid-tongued individual
with few friends while (as the Wikipedia entry states) Edward
Christian was a "celebrated barrister and brother of
Fletcher. He wrote an impassioned screed defending his brother
and had it appended to the court-martial proceedings of the 10
prisoners from the Bounty that had been captured in Tahiti and
brought to London for trial. Although Bligh wrote a defense of
his character supported by statements from crewmen on the
Bounty and other vessels, Bligh lost the public opinion war.
Thus was created the popular myth of the villainous Bligh and
the noble Christian." In reality, Bligh
was not only acquitted by the hearing, but went on to a long a
distinguished career in the Royal Navy, eventually rising to
the rank of vice-admiral!
The 1984 film is not based on the
Nordhoff/Hall books, but on a 1972 account called "Captain
Bligh and Mister Christian," written by Richard Hough. Lacking
the "Christian as hero" conceit, the film takes a very unusual
approach to the central character of Christian. It turns him
into a virtual bystander. He rarely speaks. (I wonder if this
always part of the character, or whether it was changed to
accommodate Mel Gibson's uneasy British accent.) While the
other Fletcher Christians of cinema have been tortured souls (Brando)
or men of derring-do (Flynn and Gable), Gibson is simply a man
of derring-don't, an enigmatic and taciturn figure guided by
inertia, a reluctant leader who seems to offer his men neither
leadership nor counsel, and never offers us a clear idea of
why he chose to betray his friend, a man he had sailed with
twice previously without incident. In fact, Christian was
Bligh's protégé, and gladly signed on for the third voyage,
during the early part of which Bligh promoted him over another
officer to second-in-command. It seems to me that any version
of this story needs to offer some explanation of how their
friendship could have turned around so quickly.
Richard Hough's source book does offer
that explanation, but the movie dropped it. Hough
hypothesizes that Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian were
really gay lovers, and that their intimate relationship
explains why Bligh was so jealous of Christian's love affair
with his Tahitian girl, why he rode Christian so hard after
they sailed from Tahiti, and why he was in such a foul mood in
general from the time Christian took on his native lover.
Although that hypothesis supplied the motivation which the
film was lacking, I'm glad the screenplay dropped the
homosexual angle, although I have to admit that it might have
been entertaining to see some sex scenes between Mad Max and
Dr. Lecter. It is, however, quite
interesting to watch the film after finding out that the
source book had posited this theory, because there are some
sequences that make more sense if you accept the gay subtext.
In particular, there is a long sequence in which Bligh
fidgets, fusses, and sleeps fitfully on the ship while
Christian romps with his native lover, and the sequence could
easily be interpreted to imply that Bligh is thinking of
Christian and missing him romantically, although one would not
draw that conclusion without knowing the theory in advance, or
at least I didn't when I first watched the film. I assumed
that Bligh was worried that his friend was "going native" and
would be hard to re-civilize, and I felt that Bligh was
perhaps a bit jealous because of his own seeming inability to
enjoy his stay in Tahiti while Fletcher was just having such a
Although the script didn't make
Fletcher Christian gay, it did make him a bit of a weakling
and so passive as to be virtually non-existent, and that makes
the film uninvolving. As you watch this, you might share my
strong dislike for both men. You may also feel that too much
of the film's running time is occupied by spectacles which do
not advance the story: the long, long greeting party in
Tahiti; the long, long native ceremonies; the long, long
period of storms wracking the ship as it tries to sail around
the Horn. And after all that, the film still seems to end in
the middle of the story.
The Bounty splits critics and
audiences. Critics loved it. Roger Ebert and the BBC gave it
perfect scores. 92% of the reviews linked from Rotten Tomatoes
are positive. Yet the film opened on a weekend with three
other big releases, and finished last among the four. It also
lost out to some carry-overs. When the smoke had cleared, the
total gross was a mere $8 million, despite the superstar cast.
Critics may go to the theater for a history lesson, and may
view a balanced and accurate film positively, but very few
moviegoers give a whit for accuracy. Hey, I know the Gable/Laughton
version was bullshit. But very entertaining bullshit. The main
question moviegoers tend to ask is this: is the story
fast-moving and involving enough to entertain? Based on the
box office, this one was obviously not.
IMDb says 6.7. I'd say that's quite fair, in that it
recognizes the film's excellent production values and
brilliant cast, but also acknowledges its limitations
Miscellaneous useful links:
Bill Maher - New Rules: America Isn't #1
Brian Atene today
- Remember the guy who did the audition tape
for Kubrick? Well, this is supposed to be him
- You know that the real Atene has to surface
soon (assuming the original tape is genuine,
which is a big assumption)
Excerpts from Lynne Cheney's SISTERS, as well
as her interview with the Wolfman.
Cheney Furious Over Release of Sex Tape ...
Calls Timing Politically Motivated
"Japanese competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi will
try to defend his title in a Tennessee
hamburger-eating contest in which he is
9 Reasons Not to Upgrade to Firefox 2.0
- The techno-nerds are basically advising to
stick with 1.5. Unfortunately, I upgraded
"'The FBI has raided the home of Christopher
Soghoian, the grad student who created the NWA
boarding pass site. Details can be found on his
blog including a scanned copy of the warrant. "
Zombies are real in New York - dead voters
continue to cast ballots, eat brains.
- "A new statewide database of registered
voters contains as many as 77,000 dead people on
its rolls, and as many as 2,600 of them have
cast votes from the grave."
Legends in local advertising:
Rochester's Jim "The Hammer" Shapiro. I LOVE
this guy. Check out the fourth one down.
Legends in local advertising:
"Norton Furniture in Cleveland, Ohio. His name is
Marc, and you can count on it!"
"Lucy Liu does a little 'European nudity' for new
Master of sleight-of-hand, street magician Cyril
Takayama manipulates a cigarette
Top 10 Scariest Video Games
Today's kids today are much harder to scare.
- Oh, those kids today with their fancy-schmancy
serial killer movies and their MTV and their
CGI. Why in my day, nobody went to any trouble
to scare us. We would just go to an empty
theater and try to scare each other by hiding
behind the seats. Sometimes we would go see Mike
Dwyer's Uncle Sean, and get scared by his
goiter. Occasionally, for a really good scare,
my mom would cook.
Weekend Box Office Results for October 27–29, 2006
- The top twelve were just about even with
last year. They were actually up by $2.1
million, and that was completely accounted for
by the difference between Saw 2 and Saw 3.
- Saw 3 opened with $34 million, compared to
$32m for its predecessor, and $18m for the first
one in the series. Saw 3 and Saw 2 were
virtually identical in the "average per theater"
column, but the latest one was in 200 more
- Scorsese scored well again. The Departed
held on to the #2 slot, and dropped only 27%
despite losing a few theaters.
- In a week in which the carry-over films had
generally small drops, Grudge 2 was an
exception, dropping 60%, presumably because it
faced direct competition for its target audience
from Saw 3.
- Running with Scissors did well in limited
distribution, and actually finished second in
the "per screen" column to climb to tenth in
- Catch a Fire couldn't have done much worse.
It barely crawled to $2m, which was less than
half of expectations. And expectations were low
to begin with!
Urban Legends Reference Pages: Halloween Legends
Second Lady Lynne Cheney Vehemently Denies
Repulsive Charges That She Writes Hot & Heavy
- "It's just absurd, thinking that I would
ever write or even think about the fragrant,
hirsute folds of sweet, honey-flavored vulvas!"
"Six More Commonly Believed Things That Are False
Harry Houdini - murdered spy???
Nicole Richie Celebrity Death Watch
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
Dirt Merchant (1999)
Dirt Merchant is a comedy that went direct to late night cable and is
also available on DVD. This is clearly a very low budget
effort, despite a familiar cast, with names like David Faustino, David DeLouise, Julie Benz,
Anthony Michael Hall, and porn star Jenna Jameson.
The film opens with Danny Masterson, as the title character, announcing that
he just completed his first big case as a private investigator. He came to LA
to join some school friends and make his name in the music business. He wanted
to be creative director when he was hired as gopher by a one artist label.
When he wandered into an investor meeting, was asked his opinion, and gave it,
he was fired. After wallowing in self-pity until he was dead broke, he landed
a job as a process server. Meanwhile, he ex, Julie Benz, has taken the job he
wanted. When he finds the label's artist dead in the process of serving a
warrant, he must solve the case to clear his name, with the help of his room
mates. Along the way, he hooks up with the singer's girlfriend, Holly So
Tightly (Jenna Jameson), a porn star who wants to make it in the recording
It is probably not possible to judge from the above if this film is worth
watching or not. It would be all in the execution. The film is loud and disjointed, there is nearly constant
narration, and very little character development. And the music was definitely
not my cup of tea.
Breasts and buns help... but not enough.
Generously, this is a very low C-.
IMDb readers say 4.5.
Notes and collages
Pia Zadora in "Butterfly"
...if you have not seen this film then I would be cheating you by
explaining this collage.
...on a tangent Pia was married to a very wealthy person who was able to
get her film roles of which this is one...
Personally I see her as a major cutie (and I like this film.)
Martina Gedeck in Elementarteilchen. That
blue pic is hot!
Lenka Kripac in Lost Things.
Alex Vaughn in Lost Things
Nicki Aycox and Cathryn de Prume in Over There
Per Zoo magazine, England's "Top 20 Models" of 2004, all naked together
Caroline Chojnacki in Live
Charlene McCulloch in Live
Linda Stang in Live Feed: