Master and Commander | The Most UNDERRATED Cinematic Masterpiece | Film Summary & AnalysisMay 30, 2021
One of the
masterpieces of all time is Master and Commander on the Other Side of the World. The
filmwas released in 2003 with considerable success. It was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It was not a simple
film. popcorn was a work of art the problem is it came out the same year as another big hit you may have heard of it the lord of the rings the return of the king the conclusion to the peter jackson trilogy , The Lord of the Rings, took home
mostof those Oscars. along with the crowd at the box office, which is quite understandable, the lord of the rings trilogy was a huge achievement, big budget, eye-catching, epic, incredible set pieces and incredible music, it achieved something that no one thought was possible and has proven to be one of the most iconic trilogies of all time.
Master and Commander, on the other hand, feels like a much smaller film, with most of it taking place aboard a relatively small Navy ship in cramped cabins in confined spaces and the plot basically revolves around a simple chase story, the HMS surprise. tasked with chasing down a French privateer during the Napoleonic Wars and spoiler alert this is what they do without too many plot deviations it's not as epic or frankly as memorable as Lord of the Rings it's really no surprise that
commanderquickly disappeared from the public eye, but even if it's understandable that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it and I assure you I'm not happy because if we compare the two films we don't judge them by spectacle or size. but based solely on the merits of a good film I think it can be argued that Master and Commander is the superior film, even the academy thought this to be true at least in terms of the film's visuals giving Master and Commander the Oscar for best cinematography, I personally love the way this movie was shot, ignore the aspect ratios you may be seeing now back in the day when they used to crop movies to fit on square TVs for DVD releases, but in the original aspect ratio, every shot is a
masterpiecethe camera angles the compositions of the shot the photography just blows the lord of the rings out of the water anyone can take a photo of mountains or massive armies and impress people, but mastering the
commander's camera work is pure art if you are one of those in each frame of painting people watch this movie in silence just for the images it is like a dance, a ballet of paintings in motion thinking about it, it would be an absolute crime to silence this movie because the academy also awarded it best sound editing, go now, get your best headphones. better speakers and just immerse yourself in these sound effects oh, the editing is positively symphonic, each shot is cut like perfectly placed notes, each of which supports the other to create a violent melody with adagios, allegros and staccatos, and Nowhere is this better shown than in the battle scenes.
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master and commander the most underrated cinematic masterpiece film summary analysis...
They are chaotic and disorienting when the crew is disoriented and orderly, incomprehensible when they show the discipline of the British navy and always in every intense moment and the cuts of the film capture and convey the intensity of the battle, the climactic scene of the battle in particular. is one of the grittiest, most realistic and grim battle scenes of any black powder war film. Watching it again recently, my jaw dropped. It has to be one of the best-shot hand-to-hand combat scenes of all time, not to mention one of the most accurate, and speaking of historical accuracy, there is virtually universal agreement that this film is one of the most historically accurate war films. accurate images ever made, not portraying real events but capturing the actual events of that period and capturing what it was like to live. a warship during the napoleonic wars nowhere is this more true than in the script, anyone can put replica props in their films, but writing an authentic script is difficult and requires a really deep historical knowledge of the period, understanding how it spoke really people back then, not only is it hard to do, but it's also a risk to put that in your movie because if you make your sailors talk like sailors used to talk, there's a risk that your modern audience won't understand a word. what they say. a lion ship a real dagger and a frigate we have to wonder about the nature of a hull our shots would not penetrate triple shot at 200 yards and our cannons had no effect we have to use the caliber to a clear advantage in fire This is one of the reasons why the Lord of the Rings films decided to remove many of Tolkien's writings, even though they are some of the most beautiful writings in English, they got rid of some of his most archaic and difficult words in order to have a dialog. 10 year olds can understand, but mastering Commander is not enough.
The first time you watch this movie, you probably have no idea what anyone else is talking about. Half the time the dialogue is a historical education in itself for all the actors. he enters his lines and rolls like perfectly fitting shoes. I swear there is not a bad or embarrassing performance in the entire film for one man, the acting feels natural and authentic, which again is not an easy thing to achieve in a historical film, not very easy for modern people to act naturally like gentlemen English officers or humble sailors Abel from 200 years ago, but they all do fantastic in this film, the acting never feels fake, forced, over the top or cliche like in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies or again.
Even in The Lord of the Rings, while acting awards tend to go to the most charismatic performances, there is something to be said for performances that are subtle and true to life when it comes to screenwriting, something that It's more important than capturing the way people spoke and behaved to capturing the way people thought about the world back then, and mastering Commander does all of this when it comes to what the film is really about thematically: it's more than Just a David and Goliath war story from a chase on the high seas is about the nature of power and the place of duty, tradition, the rule of law, issues that were so poignant then during the age of empires. and revolutions as they are now, if not more so, half an hour into the film, we are treated to a sort of surprise dinner scene with the hms officers.
Up to this point the film has spent its time establishing the world. where we are and the mission we are going to carry out. It is a world of violence, uncertainty that horribly explodes fragments of wood. surgeries on board and there's only more to come, but it's in this dinner scene where the screenwriters establish the themes that will play out in the rest of the film, themes that are masked in period-specific banter at the head of the table. . Captain Lucky Jack Aubry is what you might call a conservative figure who believes in the tradition of duty of authority and reverence for great men and heroes.
This is evident in his story of Lord Nelson, a British naval hero who would actually die himself. year the movie takes place location although at this point in the movie he is still alive and all the officers idolized lord nelson as a living legend a war hero a great leader someone everyone aspires to be like one day the second time the second time time he told me a story about how someone offered him a ship's cloak on a cold night and he said no, he didn't need it, it was quite warm, his zeal for king and country kept him warm, I know it sounds absurd and labored, another man would scream or how pitiful. things and dismiss it as mere enthusiasm, but with Nelson you felt your heart shine.
Lord Nelson serves as this example of someone who has a fervent love for his country and everyone holds this ideal in awe, all except one man, Stephen Matron, the ship. Doctor, he is the complete opposite of Lucky Jack in many ways, we can infer throughout the film that he is a liberal anarchic revolutionary type, he likes to question authority and is definitely not a fan of Lord Nelson, although he does not directly say if he settles for some kind of ambiguous insult, then he would seem to be the exception to the rule that authority corrupts rather than becomes defensive.
Aubry tactfully defuses the situation with a joke. I do. Which one would you choose? I would choose the right hand. it has a significant advantage in both length and width, there I have you, you are completely ruined, don't you know that in the service you always have to choose the lesser of two weavers? Everyone continues to have a good time. It may seem like a silly joke. but beneath the surface aubrey is telling steven look no one is perfect you have to choose the lesser of evils even if power corrupts is necessary it may be bad but it is a lesser evil and with that the scene gives us two of the main themes that will unfold throughout the rest of the film, the corruption of power and the choice of the lesser evil, both will become very serious for Captain Jack as the surprise continues, the chase follows the French privateer around Cape Horn, a notoriously dangerous place. famous for its harsh climate, worried that his quarry will escape in the storm, Aubrey makes the risky decision to leave more sails to travel faster, but this also puts the boat at risk of being battered by the wind and this is exactly what happens.
Realizing that he has put the ship in danger, Aubrey orders the top sails to be lowered, but in the process part of the mizzen mast breaks, taking a member of the crew with it. They try to pull the fallen man back to the ship, but Aubry is eventually forced. to let the man go because the wreckage he floats on could sink the wreck of the ship, so Aubry lets the man drown to save the rest of the ship, the lesser of two evils, all this unpleasant business pretty well tears Jack up, Stephen . he awkwardly tries to console him that you know things like this happen like he said himself that you have to choose the lesser of two evils, but when Jack asks how the crew is responding to the death of one of their most popular shipmates, Steven says that maybe they should have gone back a long time ago, it's starting to look like Jack is looking out for his own pride more than his men, putting his men's lives at risk just so he can prove he's a great sea captain, naturally.
Jack gets defensive says he's acting out of duty a matter of pride or something it's a matter of duty duty right yeah I think I've heard good things about it well you can be as satirical as you want to see the world through your microscope. your prerogative this is a warship and I will grind whatever grain the mill requires to do my duty whatever the cost, whatever the cost here we see that jack is what we could call deontological, he believes in duty and duty is absolute and must be followed whatever the outcome, Stephen, of course, rolls his eyes at the idea of duty, not only because he thinks it's antiquarian but also because he thinks Jack may be using duty just as an excuse to cover up his own pride.
Does Jack really care? Duty or is she looking out for his own reputation? Does he really just want to win like all of us? Jack is unknown to himself and his flaws are better seen by others. Maybe Steven is right about him or maybe he's wrong, but one thing is always true. when we appoint leaders, we appoint fallible people, they will always have to choose between the lesser of two evils and eventually they will always burn us out, but the interesting thing about human nature is that we don't always blame the leaders who really burn us out, esp.
If we really like that leader we find a scapegoat and this is how the surprise crew responds they don't blame jack for any of the bad things that have happened after all he is lucky jack aubry everyone loves him and trusts him follow him anywhere place, so instead they blame one of the Harlem midshipmen and it's understandable why you see that power, leadership and influence is not just about effectiveness, it's about image, it's about optics, From the first scene of the film it is clearly shown to us. that Harlem is not only an incompetent leader, but he clearly seems incompetent, he lacks confidence or assertiveness, he seems more like a timid mouse than a proud lion, instead of leading with authority, he tries to gain the approval of the crew, he submits to them for approval, not unlike the typical nice guy, of course, this does not have the desired effect, in fact, it has the opposite effect.
No one on the team likes or trusts him and Aubry tries to explain why you won't be friends with the ex Jack. Lad, in the end they will despise you, they think you are weak and you don't need to be a tyrant, no sir, I am so sorry sir, look at Harlem, it's leadership, they want strength, now find that within yourself and you will earn their respect without the respect thetrue discipline overlooks is that strength respect and discipline sir good sir this boy is hopeless no one really believes that Harlem is going to change and that is probably why the team comes to blame all the bad things that have happened on the ship about him giving way to superstition, they think Hollam is cursed, it's like Killik said the morning of the battle, he doesn't have the guts to beat the quarters and then all his gun teams killed him as soon as he climbed the MIZ. and will falls and whose guard was when we lost our breath one of the crew members, this guy here decides that he's fed up and he's not going to have it anymore one day he passes through Harlem without saying hello while he doesn't look like he was the end of the world the penalty for this infraction is flogging and we might think that is a bit drastic, we can understand how this crew member could be disciplined for not saluting, but flogging seems a bit harsh, surely such an insignificant action would not He deserves physical blood and scars and that's exactly what Stephen Matron thinks, Jack, the man.
He didn't greet Nagel he was drunk when he insulted Holland. Did you know that Stephen approaches the situation from the criminal's personal experience? He was drunk. The matron points out and this is a standard liberal approach to crime. I'm using the word liberal technically, not politically. Here a more liberal person tends to recognize and respect people's personal experiences, something that point of view epistemology has taken to an absurd point today, but most of us recognize that, if you are drunk, maybe not You should be held responsible for your actions. As a sober person from Aubry's perspective, however, an atrocious action is an atrocious action.
If you kill someone by driving drunk, you are responsible for it, not only are you a reprehensible person, regardless of the degree to which your judgment was impaired, but you should also be punished without basis. it does not depend on the freedom of your choice but on the nature of the action, the infraction committed at least we can assume that this would probably be your thought process based on how you handle this minor infraction of discipline, rules are rules and if you break the rules you must be punished according to traditional punishments, we might be tempted to say again that Aubry takes a day of logical approach while Stephen is more utilitarian, but that would not be entirely correct because for Aubry the rules are absolute precisely because they comply a function.
Tradition and rules are what hold the ship together without them, everything falls apart, don't you see? There are things that hold this little wooden world together, hard work, discipline, Stephen, this hierarchy is even in nature, as you yourself have often said, there is no disdain. In nature there is no humanity, it must be governed often not wisely, I grant, but it must be governed. However, here again we have the lesser of two evils, but is it really the lesser of two evils? Stephen maintains that this is the excuse of the oppressors. That is the excuse of all the tyrants in history, from Nero to Bonaparte, and we have to admit that they are right.
At this time, British Prime Minister William Pitt said in a speech to the House of Commons that necessity is the plea for every infringement of human liberty whatsoever. The argument of the tyrants is the creed of the slaves and this goes back to some lines of book 4 of John Milton's Paradise Lost, line 393, thus spoke the devil and with necessity the tyrant's plea excused his diabolical acts. Tyranny and oppression are always carried out in the name of the good and necessary, from Nero to Hitler to modern leaders, everyone who uses power tries to argue that morality is on their side, so it is understandable that Steven supports the mutiny.
You see, I'm quite sympathetic to mutinous men driven from their homes. his chosen occupations are confined in unsupported wooden prisons and he makes a great point that we could easily miss if we don't know our history. Many of these sailors were forced to serve against their will during the 17th and 18th centuries. The boaters would be kind. of being kidnapped in a way taken from merchant ships and forced to serve on royal navy vessels forced to put their lives at risk this also seems to have applied to fishermen, who would be forced to abandon their homes and families, why shouldn't they do it? rebel against this, don't they have every right?
This question remains unanswered. Aubry simply says that you've come to the wrong store for anarchy, brother, and on to the punishment at hand, as with any good film mastering, the commander doesn't preach to us. We don't force the audience to have a point of view, at least not in the dialogue throughout the actions that take place in the film, however, we do see a change in Captain Aubry when his friend Stephen is injured in an accident hunting. We see Aubrey renounce his duty to him. and/or pride-driven chase of the French privateer to save his friend's life and I think it's also interesting how the victory at the end of the film is achieved, on the one hand, yes, through strict discipline, but also by violating the rules of discipline. they disguise the surprise to ambush the enemy they cover their uniforms and I think the most important thing again is a point that you may miss aubry tells the men not to salute from now on they do not serve or salute neither whistles nor bells and this is it It is More significant when we again hear the big fuss about the importance of greeting, maybe there will be a time when we need to break the rules or at least change them, not all rules should remain chiseled in stone and immutable until the end of time.
A little surprised by some of the criticism I've seen about the script of this movie, people think it's a poorly written script and a poorly written story, not many, but some, I think the script is great, not just in its historicity like me. mentioned before but in its art its thematic connections its nods to different points in the film the problem is that it is extremely subtle it was not until I saw it for the umpteenth time that I made the connection between saying hello and not saying hello it's not a spoon I fed you and much of it Of the greatness of this film is beneath the surface, but at the same time, even on the surface of the film there are several layers of social commentary that anyone should be able to see and appreciate.
The film establishes a clear connection between the ship itself and England going so far as to say that the ship is England England is under threat of invasion and even though we are on the other side of the world this ship is our home this ship is England this is More than just symbolism, it is literally a way to equate the place you live and work with your nation. I'll let someone else figure out all the implications here for how small-scale leadership applies to large-scale leadership. How we should identify our country with our home how power corrupts how people in power almost always do the wrong thing eventually about how law, order, duty, discipline and patriotism are so necessary for the success of a ship as for the success of a community or nation, I will leave it For now I completely understand why Master Commander is not really that popular, it is not for everyone, but that does not mean it is not a
masterpiece, in fact, there is something to be said About the fact that he took the high road rather than watering down his material like Lord of the Rings or making a less substantial and superficial piece of pure entertainment like Pirates of the Caribbean, director Peter Weir chose to tell a story that is faithful to the life of the men who live at sea and fight during the wars with Napoleon, is a treasure of cinema and who knows, maybe one day we will be celebrated for the magnificent work of art that it is for you.
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