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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding depiction of life in the British navy circa 1797,
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. The crew mutinies, driven to desperation - but they must make a crucial choice when the French fleet comes out unexpectedly with fire ships (ships set aflame deliberately) and attacks the British ships still at anchor. Will the crew agree to let the captain take command back and fight off the French ships? Or will the crew choose to murder all the officers (or the most hated ones, at any rate) and take the ship where they will? Watch the film for the dramatic if slightly unrealistic conclusion. This film is particularly recommended for an unflinching portrayal of the harshness of naval discipline (with back-breaking lashes for even the slightest gesture of insubordination or resistance) and for the realistic portrayal of naval actions. The principal roles are played by Alec Guinness (the captain) and Dirk Bogarde (the first lieutenant). The film, incidentally, was directed by John Brabourne (7th Baron Brabourne), a son-in-law of Admiral The Earl Mountbatten of Burma. The DVD appears to have no special features, and the sound and picture quality is said to be only average. I wish that a special edition widescreen DVD was available with documentaries about the naval aspects of the Napoleonic wars, the British navy in the late 1700s, and finally, some information about the great naval mutinies at Spitshead and Nore.
For someone like me, who is just beginning to be fascinated by nautical fiction, this was a great film, better than even the Hornblower series and film (good as they are). If you are reading nautical fiction set in this era, this film is strongly recommended. There is no particular amazing feat of seamanship, merely a realistic depiction of hard choices made by men facing almost impossible consequences.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Sea Adventure! Top Drawer!,
This review is from: Damn the Defiant! (Sous-titres français) (DVD)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!
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story of the age of wooden ships and iron men!,
This review is from: Damn the Defiant! (Sous-titres français) (DVD)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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Portrayal of the British Navy,
By A Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Rousing, sea tales with superior acting!!,
This review is from: Damn the Defiant! (Sous-titres français) (DVD)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.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wooden World,
This review is from: Damn the Defiant! (Sous-titres français) (DVD)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.
5.0 out of 5 stars history comes to life,
This review is from: Damn the Defiant! (Sous-titres français) (DVD)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! This movie is the type that withstands the test of time. It lives!
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Columbia!,
This review is from: Damn the Defiant! (Sous-titres français) (DVD)Damn the Defiant! -- U.K. title: H.M.S. Defiant -- is a classic story of the British Navy's widespread "mutiny" of 1797. The film centers on board the HMS Defiant and the conflict between its Captain and First Officer and of the British Navy's sailors harsh conditions which give rise to rebellion.
Alec Guisness, Dirk Bogarde, and Anthony Quayle are excellent in their roles. Director Lewis Gilbert does an admirable job of moving the story, characters and action along.
Any of you who love the Hornblower stories will feel right at home here. Columbia is to be congratulated for giving us a 2.35:1 widescreen anamorphic-enhanced DVD of this great character-driven film. The flip side is p&s but why bother? This film needs to be seen in its original format. Sound is a clear mono. Extras are spartan but interesting.
Now if only Warner Brothers would give us the 1951 swashbuckling classic "Captain Hornblower" with a superb Gregory Peck in the title role!
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling study in leadership,
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars In the tradition of Hornblower,
This review is from: Damn the Defiant! (Sous-titres français) (DVD)Damn the Defiant is built around a true incident, the "Spithead Mutiny" of the British Channel Fleet during the war with France in 1797. British sailors rose up in a mostly peaceful rebellion against the abominable conditions in which they were forced to serve. The movie, based on the novel "Mutiny" by Frank Tilsley, tells the story of the frigate Defiant, on a solitary mission deep into the French held Mediterrean Sea. The crew, already involved in the planning for the fleet-wide mutiny, suffer under the lash of the ship's sadistic First Lieutenant (Dirk Bogarde), while the Captain (Alec Guinness) is incapacitated, first by the torture of his son and then by the loss of his arm in a battle with a French frigate. But the good triumph in the end, as is right. It is a surprisingly complex story with well developed characters, but it delivers plenty of action as well. The battle scenes are well done, though the final action with a fire ship is too clearly model work. The DVD provides a fine viewing experience. The video is generally very good. The picture is soft occasionally and the rich colors become over-saturated in a few brief instances, but I did not find any of these flaws too distracting, and it is far better than my old VHS recording. The sound is very full and the dialogue was always clear and never overwhelmed. Obviously, a movie this old is not going to provide the same kind of audio as a contemporary film, but I found no serious fault with it. I highly recommend Damn the Defiant to any fan of naval adventure in the age of sail, as typified by Horatio Hornblower.
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Damn the Defiant! (Sous-titres français) by Lewis Gilbert (DVD - 2000)
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