When Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World came to Asunción’s theatres, I was busy, tired, newlywed, and very short on the green stuff. I was experiencing a painful exit from my job as an English teacher at a local Christian academy, and did not have the time or money to go and see it. So the movie went down before I was able to see it. And I regretted it.
Fast forward six months, and I am checking every week on the local video rental store to see if they carry the tape. When they finally do, I was very happy to rent it. And all I can say is wow!
I am a sucker for sailing ships. Perhaps because I’ve seen them only in pictures, and never saw a seashore save for a few glimpses here and there, and what I could see from a plane. Perhaps because I am a Navy Ensign in the Paraguayan Armed Forces Reserve. But the fact is that sailing ships and Old Navy settings are like a dream to me. Peter Weir’s movie hooked me since I saw the first glimpse of an ad because of that.
The story is based on the historical movies of Patrick O’Brien, a well-know historical novelist of the Anglo-Saxon world, and practically unknown to me. The adaptation is faithful to O’Brien in spirit, but not in the letter; I can certainly understand the disappointment of O’Brien buffs when they saw the movie with all the liberties taken in the script. But overall, the script carries out very well and it is a great introduction to O’Brien for a lot of the global world, myself included.
The movie is situated in 1805, and the degree of historical accuracy displayed in it is astounding. My wife mentioned that Crowe (as Capt. “Lucky” Jack Aubrey) had a kind of scar in one of his earlobes, much like an “old warrior” scar. This degree of accuracy is especially telling in the nautical themes, with all the jargon and lore of the Royal Navy of that time.
However, in my opinion, the one of the most important things on the movie is the values shown. Master and Commander shows that you could make a big blockbuster movie without showing cleavage or resorting to the lusts of the audience. It was uplifting to see virtues such as honor, courage, loyalty, patriotism and wisdom as living realities embodied by Aubrey and his crew, and not as the abstract, unattainable abstruse concepts they are thought of now.
And finally, the respectful acknowledgment of the Christian faith made throughout all the movie is almost incredible. Would you think of a feature move in today’s world that has a bunch of rough men saying the Lord’s prayer with heartfelt conviction? This movie shows that Christianity is a faith for the brave and courageous, and not for “sissies”.
All in all, an excellent movie in almost all aspects. There are, however, two aspects of possible concern: (1) There is a lot of strong, “sailor” language that includes a lot of profanity, so be careful if you choose to show to your children; and (2) there’s a lot of violence seen and implied. If you are prepared to deal with those elements, then you have a winner here.
Verdict: Strongly recommended. A masterpiece. Especially suited to watch with your male teenagers and have “men-talk” with them afterwards.
(Picture courtesy of The Internet Movie Database. Enter to see the IMDB’s page for the movie.)