I tore myself away from the iBook this afternoon and went to see Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. I’m going to be writing about it next week, so I don’t want to give the game completely away, but here’s what I thought in a nutshell: it’s all wrong…and all right.
No, Master and Commander doesn’t reproduce the essence of Patrick O’Brian’s books, which is the inner life of Stephen Maturin. (See this recent post for more details.) It’s a completely exteriorized view of the Aubrey-Maturin novels. But what a view! I know the novels intimately, and I’m stunned by the evocative precision with which Peter Weir has made them manifest on screen. Sure, he’s turned a Trollopian roman fleuve into an action movie, but the action is completely consistent with the tone (and values) of the books. What’s more, Russell Crowe is as good an Aubrey as could possibly be imagined. He looks right, sounds right, acts right. From now on, I’ll see him in my head when I read the books.
Much more later, but for now I’ll add just one thing, which is that I saw Master and Commander in the company of a woman friend whom I thought might not like it, not least because it gets quite bloody from time to time. She was completely enthralled. Me, too. I want to see it again, soon.