March 11, 2019  (Web Review)

The Bounty

Kino, 132 min., PG, DVD: $14.99, Blu-ray: $29.99

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

The Bounty, the 1984 take on the historical events famously dramatized in Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall’s titular 1932 novel, offers a different perspective on the story from numerous previous feature films. Mel Gibson stars as Fletcher Christian, Master’s Mate on HMS Bounty and longtime friend of its commander, Lieutenant William Bligh (Anthony Hopkins), bound on a voyage to Tahiti. This version begins with Bligh in England after the mutiny, defending himself in a British Navy court of inquiry (Laurence Olivier and Edward Fox lead the proceedings), and then proceeds to unfold in flashback. Hopkins’s Bligh is not the maniacal, sadistic villain of earlier films but rather an intelligent and thoughtful (if also ambitious) career officer devoted to discipline and duty, while Christian falls in love with a local Polynesian girl (Tevaite Vernette). Daniel Day-Lewis and Liam Neeson costar in their first major big screen roles. This film is actually based on the 1972 nonfiction book Captain Bligh & Mr. Christian by Richard Hough, and was originally developed by director David Lean and screenwriter Robert Bolt as a massive maritime epic before finally being brought to the screen by New Zealand filmmaker Roger Donaldson in his first big budget studio picture. The performances are excellent, the characters well developed and complex, and the action scenes (such as navigating a violent storm) are muscular and impressive, but most compelling is Bligh’s selfless, courageous command that saves his officers after the mutiny (this is considered the most historically accurate version of the story to date). Extras include two commentary tracks—one with director Donaldson, producer Bernard Williams, and production designer John Graysmark, and the other featuring historical consultant Stephen Walters, who focuses on the real-life story behind the film. Recommended. (S. Axmaker)