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Damn the Defiant! (Sous-titres français) [Import]
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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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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.Read more ›
Highly enjoyable film!
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.
Bogarde and Guinness are outstanding in the large cast of charecters, but the presence of Anthony Quayle is another critical part.
There are two conflicts going on that are well told. The conflict between a competent and caring capatin of the ship, Guinness and a sadistic but compent second in command, Bogarde. There is also the story of the lower deck, Quayle et al, vs. the officers. It is a study in the problems of command where Guinness knows of Bogarde's faults but discipline requires that he give him his support. Bogarde also uses the Captain's dedication to duty against him by abusing the son of the captain. He does it within the letter of regulations but actually is showing the captain his limits of power. Guinness can't intervene without weakening the discipline of the ship and Bogarde knows this. The ship's surgeon has served under the Bogarde charecter in the past and in each case, the captain of the ship has never gone back to sea after Bogarde is done with them. Bogarde's bullying toady ultimately strikes the spark that sets off a mutiney.
This movie is interesting and useful on several levels; Naval fiction and history and also the study of leadership. Anyone with interests in these areas would be well served to view this movie, several times. An all-star ensemble cast that makes this film extremely believeable. I highly recommend it.
Most recent customer reviews
Great movie but like the classic " Stagecoach" I purchased the picture broke up during the final, dramatic scene of the movie. Simply maddening.Published 16 months ago by MarkSamuel
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.Published 19 months ago by Thomas P Hurlbut
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... Read morePublished on April 6 2003
What can you say about the powerhouse teaming of Alec Guiness and Dirk Bogarde?? Two of the greatest actors of our time. Read morePublished on July 1 2002 by Deborah MacGillivray
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. Read morePublished on Dec 13 2001 by M. La Vean
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