Preview by: Jack Foley
IT'S been a while, but Russell Crowe finally makes a welcome
return to the Big Screen later this year, with the epic Master
& Commander: The Far Side of the World.
And, from looking at the challenges of filming the movie, it
is easy to see why his return to the screen has taken so long
- he last appeared in the Oscar-winning A
For Master & Commander, he unites with director, Peter Weir,
for an adaptation of Patrick O'Brian's widely beloved 20-volume
cycle of seafaring sagas, set during the Napoleonic Wars.
The movie is rumoured to have cost in the region of $120 million
and looks set to head the current crop of epics being made by
the major studios, which include Brat Pitt's Troy, and Leonardo
DiCaprio's Alexander The Great.
Master and Commander, which distributors, Twentieth Century Fox
may seek to develop into a franchise, is said to draw its central
plot from the 10th book in the O'Brian cycle, The Far Side of
the World, even though some of the characters and incidents will
be borrowed from other installments.
As well as providing the necessary swashbuckle, it will also
focus on the relationship between Crowe's captain, 'Lucky' Jack
Aubrey, and the ship's doctor and secret agent Stephen Maturin
(played by Paul Bettany, who also appeared alongside Crowe in
A Beautiful Mind).
The novel follows Aubrey's chase of an American warship around
Cape Horn, during the War of 1812, but Weir's version will take
place in 1806, and will transform the enemy into a French super-frigate,
According to certain web reports, the story begins with an attack
on the Surprise, by the Acheron, from which Aubrey and crew barely
escape; and then takes in Aubrey's obsessive chase around a typhoon-tossed
Cape Horn and up to the Galapagos Islands.
Shooting began on June 17 last year, and took in 18 weeks in
Mexico and one more in the Galapagos.
The HMS Rose, a British frigate not unlike the fictional Surprise,
was a floating museum in Bridgeport, Conn., when the filmmakers
bought it and had it sailed through the Panama Canal to Baja.
Meanwhile, the full-scale replica of the Rose was built in the
same oceanside tank where Titanic was filmed in Rosarito.
The producers believe that the time is right to deliver audiences
another sea-based swashbuckler, and cite the success of Errol
Flynn's Captain Blood, and Marlon Brando's Mutiny on the Bounty
They will also have been buoyed considerably by the success of
Disney's Summer blockbuster, Pirates
of the Caribbean, which has proved, quite conclusively, that
such movies are not destined to sink without trace from the outset.
With Crowe still hot after his Oscar success, and Bettany building
on an established screen partnership with the Australian actor,
filmgoers have every reason to feel excited, particularly as the
effects team is the same one behind the Lord
of the Rings trilogy.
The movie is scheduled for a November 14 release in the US, and
November 28 in the UK. IndieLondon will, of course, be bringing
you the US reaction when it comes in...