The story of the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War, and the soldiers on both sides that fought it, while their wives wait nervously and anxiously at home for the good news or the bad news.
In April 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars, H.M.S. Surprise, a British frigate, is under the command of Captain Jack Aubrey. Aubrey and the Surprise's current orders are to track and capture or destroy a French privateer named Acheron. The Acheron is currently in the Atlantic off South America headed toward the Pacific in order to extend Napoleon's reach of the wars. This task will be a difficult one as Aubrey quickly learns in an initial battle with the Acheron that it is a bigger and faster ship than the Surprise, which puts the Surprise at a disadvantage. Aubrey's single-mindedness in this seemingly impossible pursuit puts him at odds with the Surprise's doctor and naturalist, Stephen Maturin, who is also Aubrey's most trusted advisor on board and closest friend. Facing other internal obstacles which have resulted in what they consider a string of bad luck, Aubrey ultimately uses Maturin's scientific exploits to figure out a way to achieve his and the ship's seemingly impossible goal.Written by
The film is based in part on The Far Side Of The World, the tenth volume of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin saga. In the book the object of the hunt is not a French vessel, but rather a fictional American frigate, Norfolk. The book itself is based on the real-life exploits of the USS Essex, a 32-gun frigate built by the merchants of Salem, Massachusetts. In 1813-1814 the Essex, under Captain David Porter, harassed British commercial interests in the Pacific. It was a highly successful cruise resulting in the capture of many British whalers and Peruvian naval vessels. Porter even (rather unrealistically) laid claim to the Marquesas Islands. The run ended on March 28, 1814 at the Battle of Valparaiso, with the Essex taking very heavy losses at the hands of frigate HMS Phoebe and sloop-of-war HMS Cherub. See more »
During the after action meeting in the Captains Galley, Mr. Allen says, "heavy frigate like that in the Pacific". This does not imply that they are in the Pacific at that moment - indeed, the opening scene showed the Admiralty's orders to Captain Aubrey to prevent the Acheron from reaching the Pacific. The line is merely to demonstrate why it is imperative they stop the Acheron from reaching the Pacific, Further, the ensuing chase around Cape Horn would show they are going from the Atlantic to Pacific.. See more »
The British Navy ruled the waves throughout the nineteenth century and this film captures some of that spirit rather well. The cast is excellent, Crowe in particular shining as the captain. The battle scenes between Anglo-French vessels are very entertaining, the cannons blasting great big holes into enemy ships! The story itself is not going to set the world on fire, but its all done very nicely. The film offers a glimpse of what life at sea was like during the Napoleonic Wars and anybody with an interest in history should catch the film. A few more battles would have been nice, but there you go! It's over 2 hours long, but doesn't drag. One to watch definitely.
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