on April 26, 2001
When the news broke that MGM had the audacity to remake the hallowed 1935 classic "Mutiny on the Bounty" starring Clark Gable and Charles Laughton, the critics were aghast. As the news leaked out about trouble in production, they whipped themselves into a self-righteous frenzy. Brando was a lightening rod for criticism because he was renowned as arrogant hothead. Compared with Gable, who was universally loved and adored, Brando was a boor. It was almost sacrilegious to put Brando in any part Gable had played. When the film opened, it never had a chance. It was ripped to shreds. Brando was ridiculed as a lower class character actor who couldn't step up to the part, and derided for his dreadful attempt at an English accent. The film was a box office loser and critics smugly declared they told us so.
The film was beset by problems throughout production. The full-scale replica of the Bounty arrived on location two months after the film was scheduled to begin shooting. There were three deaths among the film's personnel and the film ran well over budget. The biggest problems were the result of Brando's constant temper tantrums as he tried to rewrite the entire film from the set. At least six writers came and went. After countless confrontations, director Carol Reed gave up and quit to be replaced by Lewis Milestone ("All Quiet on the Western Front'). Milestone was an utterly intractable director that Brando couldn't bully. The result was a battle between the immovable object and the irresistible force, with daily emotional pyrotechnics that further delayed the film. Although Milestone usually prevailed in the fracases, this film turned out to be his last in a 37-year career.
Over the years, the critics have continued to pillory the film, but the public generally receives it more favorably as time passes. Though I often disagree with the masses, in this case I concur. Having seen both the 1935 and 1962 versions, I prefer the latter. Gable is clearly more charming and dashing in the role, but Brando gives the more complete performance. Gable's Christian seems far less ruffled by the events that transpire on the Bounty, whereas Brando accomplishes a believable transition from the cavalier rogue to an honorable hero who endures self-torment over the treasonous act. Though Brando's English accent is oft ridiculed, I have heard far worse. Part of the problem probably stemmed from the fact that the accent he attempted to imitate was very upper crust and he delivered it with a certain sneering tone that made it seem like he was mocking the English. Just hearing that accent from the same lips that gave us, "I coulda been a contenda" was a kind of ironic comedy unto itself.
Between the Bligh portrayed by Charles Laughton and that depicted by Trevor Howard in the remake, Howard wins hands down for pure detestability. Most of the production values, such as music, set design and costumes were superior in the remake. Moreover, the remake was more historically accurate than the original.
The film features a youthful Richard Harris in the role of Mills, who gives an excellent performance of the petulant sailor. Also noteworthy is the lovely Tarita, a native Tahitian who plays Christian's love interest Maimiti, and does a scorching belly dance. This was Tarita's only film, but to anyone who has seen the film, she will not be soon forgotten.
This is an excellent film. It was nominated for seven Oscars including Best Picture, but it was shut out, trampled by "Lawrence of Arabia". It is highly entertaining with wonderful costumes, props and sets, fabulous locations and photography, and some terrific performances. Though many will disagree, I rated it a 10/10. If one can step back from the controversy that swirled around this film when it debuted, it is an easy film to enjoy.
Yes, I've heard all the detractors. Brando was poor, it's not historically accurate, they didn't like the ending and on and on.
It's a movie.
And it is a rather wonderful movie - arguably the best of the 3 or 4 that have been made I'd say! Regardless of whether you like Brando or not, or have other issues with it, the strong cast, the good story (it does actually have many historical accuracies in it), the fabulous cinematography , the ship (the star of this film), this film shows it is a classic.
I've enjoyed this film many many times, from first time release in the theatre, to vhs on tv, to (gladly and what took you so long!) dvd !! Hurray!! At last!
This is a good movie - a very good movie in so many ways. And although Bligh was not the ogre he's made out to be in all of the movies made on this story, Trevor Howard makes Bligh an understandable bully in a very strong performance among many strong performances.
Do yourself a favour and add this wonderful film to your library. I never tire of watching it. It's a winner in my book!
on November 12, 2002
This remake of the 1935 classic is a much-maligned film, although it's certainly worth checking out. Part of the problem is Marlon Brando's oddly mannered performance (and horrible attempt at a British accent!), but by the film's end Brando will grow on you... in fact, there's a dramatic payoff to his icy aloofness. What the film's critics are really rebelling against is the refashioning of what many consider a perfect movie. With typical '60s relativism, the story's heroic aspects are undercut by a much darker and complex plotline... Trevor Howard's Captain Bligh remains, like Laughton's, a greedy and cruel man, but in this version he is much more sympathetic. Here, Bligh is needled and derided by first mate Fletcher Christian, an aristocratic fop who looks down his nose at his rigid, uptight commander. Brando's character is also a breezy dilletante ultimately driven to act on the sailor's behalf as much by his rivalry with Bligh as by any moral concerns. The sailors see this situation and, as Bligh's repressive behavior comes to a boil, they cynically exploit Christian's hatred of the captain to push him, unwillingly, to lead the mutiny. The ending of the film is markedly different, as well, and for anyone willing to entertain this story's historical value, the new view of Pitcairn Island is worth checking out. The long interlude on Tahiti, though a bit racist and tinged by a dated, Hugh Hefner-y sense of naughtiness, is also quite compelling... It also includes some nice, reasonably authentic Polynesian dancing, and a compelling scene where Brando meets his non-English speaking bride. Of the two films, this one feels much more real, with rich details that go beyond the original story of right and wrong. Recommended.
on April 29, 2013
It was nice to see this movie again, after some 40 years.
This was the movie that enticed me to join the Merchant Navy as an engineer officer on the cruise ships back in the late 60,s
I wanted to go to Tahiti, like Marlon Brando.
I did, and I was disappointed, it was very colonial " French ' dirty and stank.
Better in the Bounties time I guess, today I assume it is very nice...................
But The movie is a remember thing for me..
It was as good today as it was when I first saw it. NOSTALGA !........
on October 10, 2015
Well, this is never going to be considered a great film. It is overlong and it takes a while to get used to Brando's "foppish" performance as Fletcher Christian. The first two thirds of the movie are good and then it goes off the rails after the actual mutiny, and yet there is still way too much time to go. Having said all that, I found the quality of the Blu-ray to be very good. The picture is very sharp and the colours vivid. Might it have been better considering the Ultra Panavision format it was shot on? Probably, but this isn't Ben-Hur, so this is as get as it is likely going to get and I certainly have no complaints. The real strength of the Blu-ray for me is the sound. Bronislau Kaper's music score sounds glorious. This is a movie I will actually sit and listen to the overture and opening titles over and over as the music, in 5.1, is great. Much the same occurs when the ship first lands in Tahiti. The sound of the native drums has surprising "oomph" and power, especially for a 53 year old movie. So, should you buy it? I have made it through the whole movie once, but as I said, I find myself playing certain parts (the first sail out of port, the arrival and fishing scenes in Tahiti, etc.) just for the beautiful visuals and music. If you are a fan of this kind of epic film making then I would certainly recommend it.
on December 9, 2014
There is much to enjoy and admire in this movie that shows almost as well on my TV screen in this clean, precise, DVD transfer, as it did in the super-large theatre where I first saw it. Chief among its pleasures are the performances of Brando and Howard, both in uncharacteristic roles: the 1st as an upper-crust young English aristocrat, and the 2nd as an utterly unlovable autocrat whose sadism is devoted to discharging a responsibility to which he is utterly committed. The sights and smells of the period; the terrors of the wildest oceans on this earth; and the discomforts of life above and below decks in the Royal Navy of the time are all on dramatic display, carrying authenticity and complete conviction. It is when this unfortunate crew reaches Tahiti that things take a downhill plunge. The director, obsessed by the fact that with no woman on board and therefore no means of romantic titillation at his disposal, decided to milk this tropical scenario for all the sexual innuendo he could muster. The long land-break is superficial and gratuitously boring, and we never quite return to the glorious heights of tension that precede this episode. True, the final explosion of Fletcher aboard the Bounty is thrilling, and the disposal of Bligh and his few supporters is a welcome piece of justice in this closed world where no justice had previously existed. The return to Tahiti and the onward search for refuge from retribution are interesting events that are well enough described, but they do not carry the drama and tensions of the first half. It is interesting but sad to see the unity of the mutineers gradually erode, but so far as I can judge, there are historical inaccuracies in this part of the narrative, especially related to Christian’s dramatic attempt to save the burning Bounty. However, the uneven nature of the movie means that there is something here for everybody, and paradoxically, this weaknesses may have added to its popular appeal. Bravos also for the more minor characters so well played by the likes of Richard Harris, Hugh Griffith, Noel Purcell and Gordon Jackson. As for the Tahitans: well, a scholarship to the Royal College of Dramatic Art would not go amiss. The original Charles Laughton/ Clark Gable partnership is stlll the gold-standard.
on March 7, 2012
Even if this is a very good movie, even if Marlon Brando's Fletcher Christian and Trevor Howard's William Bligh are convincing and very well played, sadly, this movie has almost nothing in commun with the true story.
First thing, Bligh didn't decide to try to Cape Horn route midway thrue the Atlantic crossing, it was planned from the start.
Secondly, Bligh knew Fletcher Christian before the Bounty voyage, in fact, he had sailed with him before and even wished him on board. William Bligh treated his men as well as any Captain in the 1790's maybe even better, having learned from the Great James Cook himself.
The actual mutiny sequence has nothing, but absolutly nothing remotely to do with how it happened. Fletcher Christian, along with 3 other sailors, stormed Bligh sleeping quaters early in the morning and tied his hands behind his back. It was NEVER in reaction to Bligh refusing to give water to a dying sailor. The worst part in my opinion is last 15 minutes of the movie. Completely delirious stuff.
So, if you want to see a good movie, great, you can watch "Mutiny on the Bounty", but be aware that it has nothing to do with the true story. For that, may I recommend Caroline Alexander book "The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty".
on August 3, 2002
I own the three "mutiny" films -- the 1935 version, this one and the 80's Mel Gibson version (with Anthony Hopkins)simply called "The Bounty." Although the Gibson one is certainly the most authentic to the true story, my personal favorite of the three is this 1962 version with Marlon Brando. This movie is, for some strange reason, completely mesmerizing and engrossing! Not to mention its probably one of the most beautifully photographed films ever (many people note this). Marlon Brando does a great job portraying Fletchr Christian. The movie has historically been criticized as a dud. This is simply inexplicable. Many people loved the original '35 version and weren't open to a remake. I'm totally unbiased on the issue and own all three. Take it from me, the Brando version is far superior to the '35 black & white version in all departments. (I think perhaps people are just nostalgic about that older Clark Gable version). I also really love the more realistic Gibson version, I highly reccomend it, but this Brando version is simply more compelling and more awesomely photographed. After the mutiny Fletcher Christian (Brando) just hides in his cabin on the ship, utterly depressed, while his fellow mutineers party it up on the island. This is a great, realistic scene. Christian knows he can never go home again. One of my top five movies ever!
on August 12, 2000
The vast majority of Amazon reviewers speak highly of this film and I am no different. The older version with Gable and Laughton, as well as the later one with Gibson and Hopkins is nowhere near as exciting and entertaining as the Brando/Howard version. Brando, like Nicholson, is one of those actors who basically is playing himself playing someone else. So what if the accent was wrong, he still managed to captivate every scene he which he is featured.
Another strong point is the magnificent score by Bronislau Kaper. The opening and end themes are both majestic and tragic, respectively.
Trevor Howard's Bligh is deserving of mutiny. His determination to bring breadfruit to the English isles overshadows everything else making him a tyrant who forces his crew to take extreme measures.
Black character actor Frank Silvera does a great job as Minarri, translator and interpreter for the Tahitian king. Richard Harris and future Oscar winner Hugh Griffith are also quite good in their roles as crewmen whose torture at the hands of Bligh lead Brando's Christian to mutiny.
The breathtaking Pacific locations and the beautiful Polynesian people are additional pluses for this epic.
on February 26, 2000
Perhaps that review title's too harsh. I loved the '62 version primarily because of how the extremes of production expense shoved it forward as an all-time great. To understand its power one has to see its standing in relation to the two other versions. The 1935 film has a pre-Errol Flynn swashbuckler ambience that tries to coexist with an overall moodier feel brought on by dour, flat direction. The 1984 movie tries too hard to establish historical correctness while superimposing Mel Gibson's prettiness over the sour conditions underlying the vessel and the voyage. At any rate, these elements take out much of the fun of these versions and, in the latter case, it's even arguable that its weighty atmosphere defuses the thrill of the mutiny altogether. Nothing spectacular in these.
Lewis Milestone directed an infinitely more entertaining affair on the 1962 version. Marlon Brando's attempt at Englishness is thoroughly derisable but we forgive him for it because there's much comic relief to be had in that as well as in the way he spars with Trevor Howard. The crew are alotted more respect by the camera in this film and that freedom yields more entertaining results than the sordid festering they endure to be found in the most recent version.
No. This is a three hour adventure that is fun for all the family. At times funny (echoes of Gilbert and Sullivan drift into my head every once in a while when I watch Brando strutting about on the poop deck), at times poignant, this is maybe the biggest of the giants Metro Goldwyn Mayer committed to celluloid. It's important to keep in mind that studios were still having their honeymoon with Eastman colour 40 years ago and it isn't surprising at all that the tale of the Bounty was selected for a reworking on this grandiose scale. Full of images and sounds that do nothing but please the soul, 'Mutiny on the Bounty' is a masterpiece with no bad actors aboard (Richard Harris is at his best here as the chief fomentor of rebellion 'downstairs'). When viewed from any angle, it's still a dazzling chandelier of a movie. They don't make them like this anymore not because they won't - it's simply because the style involved here is out of the reach of any filmmaker or producer alive today. Probably a year or more in the making, the Sixties Bounty film is irrefutably the definitive one and the effects of watching it once are guarranteed to incite many subsequent viewings, not merely to drink up the haunting beauty of the location camera work. This is an essential component of any family's movie collection that must be bought as soon as possible.