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Damn the Defiant! (Sous-titres français)

Alec Guinness , Dirk Bogarde , Lewis Gilbert    DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Set in 1797 at the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars, Damn the Defiant! (also known as H.M.S. Defiant) is an enthralling British naval drama made to capitalize on MGM's epic remake of Mutiny on the Bounty, also released in 1962. It's based on Frank Tilsey's novel Mutiny and stars Alex Guinness as a fair-minded captain locked in psychological conflict with his manipulative, coldly malicious first officer (Dirk Bogarde), and the parallels with the famous true story are clear. However, there were many naval mutinies during this period, and this large-scale saga, which includes some spectacularly staged widescreen naval battles, offers a realistic depiction of life in the British navy at the time--from the press gangs and floggings to the appalling food and living conditions.

Director Lewis Gilbert--who previously helmed Sink the Bismarck! (1960)--strikes a good balance between the personal drama and sweeping maritime adventure. Guinness successfully varies his firm-but-fair officer from The Bridge on the River Kwai, Bogarde is chillingly hateful, and Anthony Quayle gives strong support. --Gary S. Dalkin

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Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
This fictionalized story of a mutiny on HMS Defiant, commanded by a captain burdened with a vicious first lieutenant, is worth seeing if you like nautical fiction in general, or are a lover of novels by Patrick O'Brian or C.S. Forester. It is not easy watching, although there is no deliberate crudity (this is an old film for one thing).
The story begins prosaically enough with the Defiant setting off under the command of a man who has just brought his son in as a midshipman (a typical way for a son to follow his father into the navy; Nelson began by following a maternal uncle into the navy, albeit on another ship). We learn quickly enough that this voyage will not quite be what is intended. The first officer, played brilliantly by Dirk Bogarde, is a vicious but very well-connected man, who punishes harshly for the slightest offense (even an unintended one). The crew are on the point of mutiny, in what is intended to be a concerted action with the rest of the Mediterranean Fleet and the ships in British ports. A few sailors are reluctant to join the planned mutiny, but they are persuaded to join thanks to the harshness of the lieutenant and the lack of action taken by the captain. Is the captain weak? Not really. His choices are limited firstly by the system (whereby powerful enemies can ruin even a captain's career) and secondly by the fact that his son is made a pawn in a vicious game. Things take an unexpected turn, firstly when the captain gets his son off on a prize crew (a small crew commanding a captured enemy vessel, civilian or otherwise) and thus wrests back control from his first lieutenant; and secondly, when the captain is seriously injured.
The denouement comes rapidly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Sea Adventure! Top Drawer! March 31 2009
By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is an excellent film overall - with an exceptionally strong cast, special effects, and storyline. It does (I'm sure) show quite well what life in the Royal Navy was like in 1787-ish. A more realistic viewpoint. But the thrill of adventure on the high seas fighting Napoleon makes this a thrilling period film. The action scenes are riveting and very real! No complaints at all on special effects - you'd think you were there!
Highly enjoyable film!
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Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A fairly accurate portrayal of the goings on in the little world that was naval life at the time. A must have for fans of the era.
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This is a fine story of life aboard a British naval vessel during the Napoleonic wars. Alec Guiness stars as the enlightened and thoughtful captain, Dirk Bogarde is the cruel and hard first lieutenant (executive officer). The two are locked in a battle of wills and leadership concerning the means by which the ship will be commanded. The captain believes that a happy ship is an efficient ship, and seeks to lead by inspiration. The first lieutenant believes in merciless discipline, reinforced with his sadistic love of inflicting punishment. This conflict is complicated by the fact that the men of the British fleet are plotting the famous Spithead mutinies, and the first lieutenant has influential friends in London. This is a very interesting story of leadership and conflict.
The storyline moves along smartly most of the time, and the acting is quite good. The special effects are very good--no "bathtub ships" or battles. Guiness does his customary excellent job in his role as captain, although I personally thought he might have exerted more personal force than he did; his leadership style as portrayed in the film is somewhat understated. Bogarde is excellent as the villainous first lieutenant--you'll hate him by the end of the movie.
This is a fine movie worth watching more than once.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Portrayal of the British Navy April 6 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
The film is an excellent portrayal of the British Navy in 1797. The scenes showing the press gangs, the hard and dangerous work, the brutal floggings for relatively trivial offenses, the bad food, and the eventual and inevitable mutiny amply demonstrate the bad living conditions with which the ordinary sailor had to contend. The smug superiority of the British officer class is also demonstrated. The film contains a good historical description and engaging dramatization of the naval conflict between England and France. Also, an interesting story as men resolve a conflict between personal interest and the greater good. I highly recommend the film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rousing, sea tales with superior acting!! July 1 2002
What can you say about the powerhouse teaming of Alec Guiness and Dirk Bogarde?? Two of the greatest actors of our time. The dynamics of Guiness' Captain, controlled by a malicious Scott Pagent the first mate, played with a wicked gleam by Bogarde, is something to watch!!! There is excellent supporting work, and super battle scenes, but it is the power struggle between Guiness and Bogarde that is the sole and centre of this film.
DVD only enhances that and made me feel like I was seeing this for the first time!!
Wonderful historical drama, wonderful character struggle.......
A definite must for fans of Guiness, the gorgeous Bogarde or historical dramas.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Wooden World Dec 13 2001
I love stories set in the wooden ship time period. This one is not a disappointment...the battle scenes and the depictment of life on a frigate are very realistic. The battle scenes well done and the characters are fully developed.
The tension on board, and the inherent conflict that occurs when the command structure is divided, is explored in a way I have never seen done as well. I think that Guiness and Bogarde are both well cast for their roles.
I think that if one is a fan of the Hornblower series this will be a movie you definately should own.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars history comes to life
Sir Alec Guiness is totally convincing. Anthony Quayle's character is so believable. What a great way to learn about why the English navy ruled the oceans. Awesome photography! Read more
Published on March 10 2001 by Kirby Z
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Columbia!
Damn the Defiant! -- U.K. title: H.M.S. Defiant -- is a classic story of the British Navy's widespread "mutiny" of 1797. Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2001 by John Dziadecki
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling study in leadership
Damn the Defiant is the story of a fictional ship but the underlying theme, of a mutiney in the British Fleet is all too true. Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2001 by Paul Sayles
5.0 out of 5 stars In the tradition of Hornblower
Damn the Defiant is built around a true incident, the "Spithead Mutiny" of the British Channel Fleet during the war with France in 1797. Read more
Published on Nov. 15 2000 by Dan Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better in the DVD version!
First I'll repeat what I wrote in my review of the VHS version of "Damn the Defiant!":
"There aren't a lot of movies about the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic... Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2000 by Bruce Trinque
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are a Hornblower fan, you'll like this one!
The movie presents a side of Napoleanic British Royal Navy life I have seldom seen in film. Lashings are common enough in sailing films, but the use of corporal punishment, press... Read more
Published on May 8 2000 by Alan R. Holyoak
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