Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

 

Friends, today my guests on the ACF podcast are Peter Robinson and John Yoo — really, I was their guest. They led me through a number of conversations, ranging wildly from British aristocracy to the jury system in America and voir dire (ultimately from the Latin verum dicere, tell the truth, the jurymen’s oath), but we also talked about movies, TV, and novels. Mostly, we talked about Master And Commander, the naval adventure of the Napoleonic Wars, and the Aubrey-Maturin series of novels on which it’s based, but also about the older famous series, Hornblower, and then for land warfare, Sharpe. Then we also talked about the latest things in production or out on streaming, the Bosch TV series and the Lincoln Lawyer, which was a movie and is now a TV show, both from novel series by Michael Connelly. Altogether a whirlwind tour through our storytelling pastimes and a funny but honest defense of middlebrow art.

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  1. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    A most enjoyable podcast, but the correct pronunciation of “Titus” continues to elude me.

    • #1
  2. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    A most enjoyable podcast, but the correct pronunciation of “Titus” continues to elude me.

    TEE-tiss.

    • #2
  3. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    To clarify, the resupply took place off the coast of Brazil.  There were a few women in those fleeting scenes, women seeking certain favors (read the books.)  One lone woman in a small boat draws the attention of Jack, and he, looks back, more than once, as if contemplating the possibilities, but he dismisses the thought.  Too many responsibilities.

    O’Brian wrote 20 novels (and started another) in the series.  Some readers, like me, return to them over and over.  He stretched the timeline of England’s wars with Napoleon led France far beyond breaking and yes, he sometimes took his material directly from the published accounts.  He mentions this in introducing some of his novels; he also apologizes for his abuse of time.  His readers don’t care and carry on.

    The movie used  a real ship, a replica of a frigate slightly smaller than the fictional Surprise, the Rose of 20, not 28 guns.  I saw it in Bridgeport, CT (I lived in nearby Trumbull back in the late eighties. ) It was built in the 70s in Nova Scotia using the plans from the original HMS Rose of the Napoleonic War era.  The Rose is docked in San Diego Harbor and I believe it is open for tours.

    In the novels, the Acheron is a different, American ship, one of five sister ships to Old Ironsides herself, the Constitution.  These new American frigates were massive and built of abundant American oak and larch. They carried 44 guns, including 30 24 pounders to the Surprise’s 28 12 pounder cannons.   In sheer bulk. it was more than twice the size of the Surprise, at nearly 1600 tons to the Surprise’s 700.  It was a beast.

    One final note: when discussing the books and the film you must consider the major role that music plays in the story.  It is paramount and important.  The haunting theme at the end, played as the ship prepares for battle and alters course to chase the prize, is one of the most compelling endings in all film.

    • #3
  4. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    The haunting theme at the end, played as the ship prepares for battle and alters course to chase the prize, is one of the most compelling endings in all film.

    It’s the best I’ve ever seen. :-)

    I just watched this movie recently. Afterward I looked up the story about Russell Crowe and the violin. I was curious about whether he was a virtuoso in his own right and spare time. :-) Nope. He learned to play for this movie. The article I read didn’t say how new he was to the violin (the article concerned his auctioning it off to pay his wife in a divorce case). But there must be a million violin students out there who had to be impressed by how quickly he learned and how beautifully he played. 

    • #4
  5. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    bulk

    Glad you enjoyed it. You’re certainly right that I’m elusive!

    • #5
  6. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    The haunting theme at the end, played as the ship prepares for battle and alters course to chase the prize, is one of the most compelling endings in all film.

    Boccherini’s La Musica Notturna Delle Strade di Madrid.

    • #6
  7. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    A friend wrote:

    One little contribution to the discussion might be the music selection of Master & Commander: Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis was composed at the end of British Empire citing music composed at its beginning. It is so perfectly used that I wonder at the artistry.

    • #7
  8. Thursby Member
    Thursby
    @Thursby

    Still no mention of Flashman?! Where do you find these people?

    • #8
  9. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    A friend wrote:

    One little contribution to the discussion might be the music selection of Master & Commander: Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis was composed at the end of British Empire citing music composed at its beginning. It is so perfectly used that I wonder at the artistry.

    That piece is used twice, when Warley is lost to keep the boat from foundering in a storm, and later, during the burial scene after taking the Acheron.  It is haunting and amazing.  John Williams is envious.

     

    • #9
  10. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Yes, indeed. The use of music to give depth to the loss of life, to turn the struggle to stay afloat or alive into mourning, is really something! It fits with the religious origins of the music.

    • #10