Director: Peter Weir
Writers: Peter Weir (screenplay), Patrick O'Brian (novels)
Stars: Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, James D'Arcy
Beautiful music, remarkable scenery, masterful fighting and incredible ships are among the many splendid things Peter Weir's Master and Commander entails. Russell Crowe gives one of his most memorable performances as 'Lucky' Capt. Jack Aubrey, the master of the HMS Surprise. His best friend Dr. Steven Maturin, a naturalist and intelligent surgeon is played by Paul Bettany in his career defining role.
The movie begins when an enemy ship is spotted that is frequently referred to as 'The Ghost Ship' because of its speed, invincibility and tact in appearing out of nowhere in great speed. After a remarkably intense cannon battle, Aubrey manages to escape into the fog and avoid imminent disaster for a short while. The crew members are shown as rough, uneducated and superstitious in a raw and truthful way. When weather took a turn for the worse, they blamed an officer for being cursed, labeling him as the Jonah. After enduring constant intimidation and cruelty the Jonah committed suicide by holding on to a cannon ball and jumping into the sea; sinking to his death. This was an effective way of showing that it is human nature to find a common enemy with a majority.
The Cello and Violin are played to accompany the outstanding cinematography of the ocean and the Galapagos Islands. It made the film a delight to not only watch, but listen to. It truly is remarkable to have a film shot on the Galapagos Islands, yet this movie showed the world the beauty and uniqueness of the animals and scenery it bears. Russell Crow played a convincing strong and intelligent Captain that made the movie exciting to watch. The visual effects of the ship being hammered by a raging storm were remarkable and looked as real as if I were watching it happen in real life.
Master and Commander had an ending I won't soon forget. In a surprising yet entertaining twist, we find that after all the effort to take the Ghost Ship they must track it down and stop it again. I cannot stress enough how great this film is. It is definitely one of the best films of the 21st century. Although The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King is a visually stunning movie in its own right, Master and Commander: Far Side of the World was even more riveting (hard to believe I know). With a great story, great acting, great music and marvelous locations, this film deserved to win Best Picture in 2003.
On a side note: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring should have won Best Picture in 2001.