Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World


2h 19m 2003

Brief Synopsis

During the Napoleonic Wars, Lucky Jack Aubrey captains the crew of his H.M.S. Surprise. When the ship is suddenly attacked by a superior enemy, it is badly damaged and much of his crew is injured. In a bold and dangerous move, Aubrey decides to set sail in a high stakes chase across two oceans to intercept and capture their foe. It's a mission that can decide the fate of a nation--or destroy Lucky Jack and his crew.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Far Side of the World
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Adventure
Historical
War
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
Nov 14, 2003
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Miramax Film Corp.; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal Studios
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Country
United States
Location
Mexico; The Galápagos Islands; Baja California, Mexico
Screenplay Information
Based on the novels Master and Commander (London, 1969) and The Far Side of the World by Patrick O'Brian (London, 1984).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 19m

Synopsis

In 1805, in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Brazil, the HMS Surprise , a British frigate commanded by Captain Jack Aubrey, comes under an unexpected attack by a French privateer, the Acheron . When return fire from the Surprise proves ineffectual and coxswain Barret Bonden reports their ship's rudder has been shot away, Jack orders boats lowered to tow his damaged vessel into a fog whiteout. Later, Jack speculates about the Acheron 's stealth, speed and apparent impregnability and wonders how the French ship, which the Surprise had been trying to locate for seven weeks, found them. Jack then oversees the ship's numerous repairs while his close friend, Irish surgeon Stephen Maturin, tends to the many wounded. Determined to fulfill his orders to capture the French privateer, Jack refuses to consider returning to England for refitting and orders repairs to be made while the ship rests on the coast's nearby shoals. Learning that Stephen has had to amputate young midshipman Lord Blakeney's right arm, Jack brings Blakeney a book about the exploits of famed British naval hero Horatio Nelson, who also suffered the loss of a limb in battle. The crew watches with interest when Stephen performs surgery on the ship's oldest crew member, Joe Plaice, who has sustained a serious head wound. That evening in the great cabin, Stephen joins Jack for their regular meeting to play violin and cello duets. A few days later as the Surprise returns to open sea, carpenter's mate Joseph Nagle, captain of the mizzen top William Warley, and another sailor bring Jack a replica of the Acheron , which the crew has nicknamed the "phantom ship." Nagle explains that Warley had witnessed the boat under construction in a Boston shipyard and built the model with exact detail. Jack is fascinated by the double hull design that allows the ship to sit high in the water and move at great speed. Meanwhile, up on deck, the crew celebrates when Plaice utters his first words since his injury. When older midshipman Hollom joins the crew's lusty singing, however, the men are inexplicably offended. The following day, Jack is stunned when the Acheron abruptly appears on the horizon closing in behind them, and orders the Surprise to make a top speed escape. Jack then orders a decoy raft made and that night has it placed in the water with lit lanterns and cut adrift to attract the Acheron fire while the Surprise slips away. The following morning the officers are impressed to find that Jack has maneuvered the Surprise in a vast circle and come up behind the Acheron . Jack presses his advantage, chasing the Acheron as it hastily retreats southward toward Cape Horn. Near the cape, a fierce storm abruptly closes in and the French ship disappears. Jack orders the Surprise 's sails taken in, and as Hollom climbs to the mizzen top to assist Warley, the mast snaps, flinging Warley into the sea. As the mast rigging pulls the Surprise sharply over on its keel, Jack and Nagle are forced to cut the ropes to save the ship, but cannot rescue Warley. In private, Stephen comforts Jack but questions whether Jack's pursuit of the Acheron has become a reckless obsession. Jack admits his orders were to follow the French only as far as Brazil, but is confident he can catch and defeat the privateer despite its superiority. The Surprise continues southward and the temperature drops drastically, bringing snow and ice. Days later, the crew celebrates when the ship turns northward and Jack confides in his officers that he believes the Acheron is headed to the whaling waters around the Galápagos Islands. Stephen, an amateur botanist, is delighted at the prospect of exploring the life on the "enchanted islands" and interests Blakeney in various studies of insect and plant life. Upon arriving at the islands, the Surprise rescues a small boat filled with the survivors of a whaling vessel destroyed by the Acheron . Confirming the French ship's direction, Jack orders immediate pursuit. When Stephen angrily protests that Jack assured his island exploration, Jack reminds him the Surprise is a navy battle ship. In anticipation of catching his elusive foe, Jack drills the gunnery crews repeatedly, only to sail into the "doldrums," a hot, airless tropical region that leaves the ship immobile. Led by the now-fully-recovered Plaice, the crew comes to believe that the Surprise is carrying a "Jonah," or a curse in the guise of Hollom, who is present wherever misfortune occurs. The feeling is heightened when Jack is forced to flog Nagle for flagrantly displaying disrespect for Hollom in front of the crew. Jack advises Hollom, a misfit who has twice failed the officer's exam, to earn the men's respect, but the midshipman remains anxious and fearful. Stephen scoffs at the men's superstitious talk of a curse and is dismayed when Jack supports his crew. On night watch a few days after the flogging, Hollom thanks Blakeney for his kindness and then throws himself overboard. Just after Hollom's funeral service, the wind picks up and Jack again sends the Surprise in search of the Acheron . As the ship nears the islands, Stephen enthusiastically tracks an albatross flying close to the railing and is accidentally shot by Marine Capt. Howard as he fires at the bird. Alarmed by his friend's grave injury, Jack weighs anchor at the islands, where an operating tent is set up for surgeon's assistant Higgins. Stephen refuses to allow Higgins to operate, however, and conducts the surgery himself as Jack's steward, Preserved Killick, holds a mirror for him to see his wound. Stephen recovers over the next several days and confesses his guilt to Jack over preventing the Surprise from continuing her mission. When able to walk, Stephen takes Blakeney and Padeen along the volcanic surface of the island to retrieve various animal, insect and plant specimens. Excited by the possibility of capturing a flightless bird, Stephen climbs a hill where he discovers the Acheron anchored in a cove on the far side of the island. Abandoning their collection, Stephen and the others hasten to report to Jack. Inspired by a phasmid, an insect that disguises itself to confuse predators, Jack orders the ship to be disguised as a whaling ship, hoping to lure the Acheron to them. The plan succeeds and the Surprise makes a stunning attack on the larger French ship. Jack leads a boarding party onto the enemy vessel, leaving Blakeney in charge of the British ship. On board the Acheron , a desperate hand-to-hand battle ensues while Blakeney's quick action prevents the French ship's cannons from firing. After overcoming the enemy crew, Jack, who has been slightly wounded, searches for the French captain. On the lower deck he finds a physician hovering over the dead captain, and the doctor presents the captain's sword in surrender. Despite the victory, Jack suffers the loss of many crewmen, including Ship's Master Mr. Allen and young Peter. At services for the dead, Jack posthumously promotes Peter to lieutenant so that his family may receive a pension. Jack then promotes Lt. Thomas Pullings to captain and awards him command of the Acheron , which sets sail for Jamaica. Before heading for England, Jack sets course for the Galápagos, having promised Stephen that he might return to his exploration. When Stephen comments on the lack of medical care on the Acheron , Jack reveals their physician surrendered the ship to him. Stephen relates that members of the French crew informed him that their doctor had died weeks earlier. Realizing he has been tricked once again, Jack orders a "beat-to-quarters" and the Surprise comes about to pursue the Acheron .

Crew

César Aguirre

Cable

Lesley Aitkin

Assistant to Peter Weir

Tom Ajar

Projectionist

Robert Alidon

Special Effects tech

Jon Allen

HMS Rose sailing crew

Antonio Almaraz

Costumes

Sal Alvarez

Loader, 2d unit

Armando Amador

Prod accountant, Mexico

Lucy Amador

Assistant accountant

Edith I. Amezcua

Hairstylist

Joey Anaya

Stunts

Heather Anderson

Production Assistant

Richard F. Anderson

Assistant Props master

Robert Anderson

Grip, 2d unit

Susan Anderson

Milliner

Joakim Arnesson

Computer graphics Supervisor, ILM

Todd Arnow

Co-producer

Todd Arnow

Unit Production Manager

Javier Arrieta

Costumes

James Arrigo

Const foreman

Anthony L. Arrow

HMS Rose sailing crew

Eric Ashford

Shipwright

Robbie Ashhurst

ADR rec, Soundfirm--Sydney, Australia

Phil Aslaksen

Stunts

Rebecca Asquith

Workshop tech, Weta Workshop

Paul Atkins

Cape Horn footage

Race Niska Atkins

Cape Horn footage

Rosa Isela Atondo

Tailor

Roy Augenstein

Special Effects tech

Jean Luc Azzis

Inferno artist, Asylum

Johann Sebastian Bach

Composer

Captain Richard Bailey

HMS Rose sailing crew

Katherine Baird

Digital paint & roto artist, ILM

Myron Baker

On set Costume

Jamie Barber

'C' Camera op

Marcelina Barraza

Seamstress

Bret Barrett

Special Effects tech

Tom Barrett

Visual Effects Editor

Daniel W. Barringer

Stunt Coordinator

Andy Rafael Barrios

Inferno artist, Asylum

Jim Barry

Master rigger

Adam Barth

Video assist op, 2d unit

Ohn Baster

Miniatures head tech, Weta Workshop

Kim Batterham

Director of Photographer, 2d unit

Steven F. Beaupre

2d 2d Assistant Director

Daniel Becerra

Rotoscoping, Asylum

Kathleen Beeler

Digital compositor, ILM

Larry Bellantoni

Const foreman

Elissa Bello

Rotoscoping, Asylum

Carlos Benassini

Set Design

Jil-sheree Bergin

Sr visual Effects Coordinator

David Bernstein

2d Assistant Director

Carrie Best

Assistant accountant

Lourene Bevaart

Russell Crowe's trainer

Giovanni Bianchini

Set Decoration

Martin Bibbings

Gunnery instructor

Charles Bible

Const foreman

Andrea Biklian

Negative preparation, ILM

George Billinger Iii

Camera op, 2d unit

Chino Binamo

Stunts

Tim Bird

Inferno artist, Asylum

Kate Biscoe

Makeup Artist

Igor Bjorksten

Master rigger

Zoe Black

Russell Crowe's violin instructor

Matthew Thomas Blair

Production Assistant

Steve Blalock

Stunts

Richard Bluck

Miniatures Director of Photographer, Weta Workshop

Luigi Boccherini

Composer

Andrew Bock

Assistant Sound Editor

Jim Bolt

Addl mixing

Chris "pink" Bonnstetter

3D artist, Asylum

Chamonix Bosch

Production Assistant

Judith Bouley

Addl casting

Robert Bourgeault

3D artist, Asylum

Thomas F. Bournival

Shipwright

Joey Box

Stunts

Russell Boyd

Director of Photography

William Boyd

Supervisor const foreman

Jason Brackett

Physical Effects, ILM

Jon Braver

Stunts

Phil Brennan

Compositing Supervisor/Lead artist, Asylum

Brooke Breton

Supervisor visual Effects prod

Nick Brett

Stunts

Jeremy Brill

Video assist op, 2d unit

Melissa Brockman Kalmus

Visual Effects prod Supervisor

Judith Brown

Studio tutor

Stan Brown

Film shipping

Jan Bryant

Stunts

Richard Bucher

Stunts

Richard Burden

Stunts

Shannan Burkley

Matte painter, Asylum

Barney Burman

Makeup artist, 2d unit

Gary Burritt

Negative cutter

Rosemary Burrows

UK Costume

Trey Butts

Props master, 2d unit

Mike Cahoon

Camera loader

Tim Cairns

Quality control Supervisor, EFILM

Colin Campbell

Digital compositor, ILM

Oe Campbell

Film shipping

Joe Campise

Set Decoration

Candice Campos

Prod Coordinator

Susi Campos

On set Costume

Greg Cannom

Russell Crowe's Special makeup

Anthony Cappello

1st Assistant Camera, 2d unit

Alex Carey

Textile artist

Derrick Carlin

3D Camera matchmove artist, ILM

Guillermo Carpio

Dive team

Giuseppe Carrozza

Set Decoration

Michaela Calanchini Carter

Digital paint & roto artist, ILM

Derek Casari

ADR eng, Twentieth Century Fox--Los Angeles

Michael Castellano

Costume to Russell Crowe

José Castellanos

Grip, 2d unit

Martin Castro

Production Assistant

Rocio Ceja Amezcua

Costumes

Chris Centrella

Key grip

Alejandro Cerdeira

Animal handler

Elizabeth L. Chambers

Shipping Coordinator

Jacob Chambers

Stunts

Kathy Chasen-hay

Visual Effects prod, Asylum

Jesus Chavez

Animal handler

Tere Chavez

Hairstylist

Grace Murphy Cheney

Digital paint & roto artist, ILM

Orlando Chongo

Craft service

Christopher Ciketic

Assistant accountant

Stuart Clark

Russell Crowe's stunt double

Tim Clark

Matte painter, Asylum

Michael J. Clarke

Special Effects tech

Guy Clayton

Special Effects foreman, 2d unit

Robbie Clot

Physical Effects, ILM

Phil Coate

Const crane op

Grady Cofer

Lead sabre artist, ILM

Bob Cole

Special Effects tech

Zachary Cole

Computer graphic artist, ILM

Doug Coleman

Stunt Coordinator

John Collee

Screenwriter

Rafael Colón

Digital compositor, ILM

Todd B. Conklin

HMS Rose sailing crew

Brian Connor

Digital compositor, ILM

Michael Conte

Digital compositor, ILM

Caitlin Content

Sabre artist, ILM

Jennifer Convey

Ship and sail rigger

Scott Cook

Stunts

Kyle Cookmeyer

Production Assistant

Jay Cooper

Compositing seq Supervisor, ILM

Angelica Cordova

Production Assistant

Arcangelo Corelli

Composer

Deborah A. Cornett-anderson

Assistant accountant

Raul Cortes

Grip

J. Gilberto Cortez

Assistant Props master

Gustavo Covarrubias

Key grip, Mexico

Ricardo Covarrubias Garcia

Grip

Ron Cox

ADR mixer, Twentieth Century Fox--Los Angeles

Don Crawford

Digital compositor, ILM

Julie Creighton

Sr visual Effects Coordinator, ILM

Brandon Criswell

Rotoscoping & shake compositor, Asylum

Brice Criswell

Research and development, ILM

Critter

Stunts

Bruce Crone

Supervisor art Director

Donn Cross

Const foreman

Mick Crumplin Frcs

Historical consultant

Rafael Cuervo

Unit Manager, Mexico

Jair Cuevas

Animal handler

Christopher Culliton

Best boy Electrician, 2d unit

Steve Curd

Tech support, ILM

Gail Currey

ILM senior staff

Alan B. Curtiss

1st Assistant Director

Alan B. Curtiss

Executive Producer

John T. Cypert

Stunts

Wendy Czajkowsky

ADR mixer, Pinewood Sound--Vancouver, Canada

Blythe Daly

HMS Rose sailing crew

Max Damkoehler

HMS Rose sailing crew

Max Daniels

Stunts

Brian Danner

Stunts

Iva Davies

Mus/Synthesizer and sample programming

Iva Davies

Composer

Darrell Craig Davis

Stunts

Devin A. Davis

HMS Rose sailing crew

Wayne Dawson

Workshop tech, Weta Workshop

William Dawson

Special Effects tech

Gabriel De Cunto

Makeup Artist

Gary Deaton

Const Coordinator

Sandy Decrescent

Scoring contractor

Michael Degtjarewsky

Digital compositor, Pacific Title & Art Studio

Stel Deleón

Assistant accountant

Javier Delgado Cuero

Costumes

Guillaume Delouche

Assistant Props master

Jan Dennehy

Prod accountant

Loren Dennis

Stunts

Paul Denoble

Ship and sail rigger

Judi Dickerson

Russell Crowe's dialect coach

Alan Disler

1st Assistant Camera

Daren R. Dochterman

Illustrator

Jeff Doran

Digital compositing Supervisor, ILM

Douglas Dow

Shipwright

Danny Downey

Stunts

Mitch Drain

2d unit visual Effects Supervisor, Asylum

Jim Dresser

Dive team

Richard Ducker

Computer graphic artist, ILM

Jeff Duda

Special Effects tech

Roderic Duff

Special Effects tech

Film Details

Also Known As
The Far Side of the World
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Adventure
Historical
War
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
Nov 14, 2003
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Miramax Film Corp.; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal Studios
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Country
United States
Location
Mexico; The Galápagos Islands; Baja California, Mexico
Screenplay Information
Based on the novels Master and Commander (London, 1969) and The Far Side of the World by Patrick O'Brian (London, 1984).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 19m

Award Wins

Best Cinematography

2003

Best Cinematography

2004
Russell Boyd

Best Sound Editing

2003

Award Nominations

Set Decoration

2003

Best Costume Design

2003

Best Director

2003
Peter Weir

Best Editing

2003

Best Makeup

2003

Best Picture

2003

Best Sound

2003

Best Visual Effects

2003

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Working titles for the film were Master and Commander and The Far Side of the World. The following written prologue appears in the onscreen credits: "April-1805 Napolean is master of Europe, only the British fleet stands before him. Oceans are now battlefields. HMS Surprise, 128 Guns, 197 Souls, N. Coast of Brazil. Admiralty orders to Cpt. J. Aubrey: 'Intercept French Privateer Acheron en route to Pacific intent on carrying the war into those waters ...sink, burn or take her a prize.'" The script combined elements of the first and tenth novels (Master and Commander and The Far Side of the World)that are part of the twenty-book Aubrey/Maturin series written by Patrick O'Brian (1914-2000). The popular series has been noted for its historical accuracy and specific detailing of seafaring life in the 19th century British Navy. In December 1993, the Samuel Goldwyn Company optioned the first book in the series, Master and Commander, but the film moved on to Disney/Touchstone Pictures. A September 1996 Hollywood Reporter item notes that John McTiernan was under consideration by Touchstone to direct and write the script. A November 1998 Daily Variety item notes that when Touchstone dropped the project, Twentieth Century Fox picked up the feature rights with Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. mentioned as producer. Fox also acquired rights to all twenty of O'Brian's novels, the tenth of which was The Far Side of the World. After the film's release, some news items and reviewers suggested that additional books in the series would also be turned into films.
       Numerous reviews and articles on the film commented on a major change from the two books, in having the enemy that "Jack Aubrey" and the crew of the Surprise pursue changed from American to French. Some journalists suggested this May have been due to the strongly pro-American political climate in the U.S. at the time of the film's production and release just two years after the terrorism attack on New York and Washington in September 2001 and the rise of anti-French sentiment over their refusal to support the 2003 U.S. conflict with Iraq. In production notes, however, Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman stated that the change was made in order to avoid lengthy explanations of why America supported Napoleon during that period. Additionally, some of the later books in O'Brian's series centered solely on the British-French conflict. As noted in various reviews and feature articles, the "PG-13"-rated film avoided certain elements of the novels (disputed by some modern historical sources), including homosexuality within the British Navy, violent conscription of crewmen and extreme hardships endured by the men.
       The film marked the debut of Max Pirkis as "Lord Blakeney." Stars Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany previously appeared together in the 2001 film, A Beautiful Mind. Director Peter Weir worked with fellow Australian director of photography Russell Boyd on several of his early films, including Gallipoli (1981) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982). Costume designer Wendy Stites, who is married to Weir and often credited as Wendy Weir, has collaborated with the director on numerous films. The film was shot on location in Baja, California, Mexico using the four tanks constructed by Fox Studios in 1996 for James Cameron's 1998 production Titanic. In addition to using numerous model ships, constructed and filmed in New Zealand, an authentic tall ship, the Rose, a former sail-training ship in Rhode Island, was overhauled and doubled as the Surprise. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World was also shot on location in the Galàpagos Islands, which, according to production notes, was the first time a feature film shot there.
       In the closing credits, the producers acknowledge numerous individuals and naval associations, including the United States Department of Navy, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, U. K., the Historic Naval Dockyard & HMS Victory, Portsmith, U. K. and Royal College of Surgeons of England.
       Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World was selected by AFI as one of its top ten films of 2003 and also selected by the National Board of Review as one of the ten best films of the year. The picture received two Academy Awards, one for Best Cinematography (Russell Boyd)and one for Best Sound Editing (Richard King). The picture also received Academy Award nominations in the following categories: Picture, Director, Film Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects. Additionally, the film received Golden Globe nominations for Peter Weir for Best Director, Best Picture-Drama and Best Actor-Drama for Russell Crowe. Weir was nominated by the Directors Guild for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2003. Weir and producers Samuel Goldwyn Jr. and Duncan Henderson were nominated by the Producers Guild for the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures.

Miscellaneous Notes

Kodak

Nominated for the 2003 award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Feature Film from the Directors Guild of America (DGA).

Voted one of the 10 best films of 2003 by the American Film Institute (AFI).

Winner of the 2003 award for Best Cinematography from the National Society of Film Critics (NSFC).

Winner of the 2003 award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing by the Cinema Audio Society (CAS).

Winner of the 2003 award for Outstanding Compositing in a Motion Picture by the Visual Effects Society (VES).

Winner of the 2003 Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing in Domestic Feature - Sound Effects & Foley by the Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE).

Released in United States Fall November 14, 2003

Released in United States on Video April 20, 2004

Film is based on the narrative outline of the tenth book in Patrick O'Brian's "Aubrey/Maturin" series of high sea novels.

Released in United States on Video April 20, 2004

Released in United States Fall November 14, 2003