Maoi took Amber and me out for her graduation dinner last Friday. [Thanks, Maoi!—I’ve been trying to email you, but your destiny.net account is bouncing.] After good food at Light we bustled off to see Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The film has such a clumsy title because it is bolted together from two novels in a series of about twenty by Patrick O’Brian, but this doesn’t stop it being thrilling stuff.
There was excellent acting, particularly from the young officers and from Paul Bettany who stole the underrated anachrobuckler A Knight’s Tale a while back. (I have just invented the word “anachrobuckler” to describe a sword-swinging costume drama—“swashbuckler”—that makes no attempt at historical accuracy—“anachronistic”—for example The Princess Bride, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and the upcoming Timeline.)
Being based on “the best historical novels ever written*”, Master and Commander is anything but inaccurate. There are several points when you would rather it wasn’t quite so painfully convincing. The special effects are superb and as subtle as anything involving cannonballs and house-high waves can be. I’m not giving anything away by suggesting that high-low culture vultures should enjoy debating which four-letter skipper Russell Crowe‘s Captain Jack owes more to: Kirk or Ahab.
*according the New York Times Review of Books
Another stunning anachrobuckler would be Martin Lawrence’s “Black Knight”. Apparently the medeival times really needed “ride-throughs” (grab a dead rabbit at a McDonald’s like stall so that you can continue pillaging) and the evil king’s court really needed to learn to get jiggy with it.
However, the all time greatest anachrobuckler is “Army of Darkness”. Klatu verata niktu.
Two other comments on Master and Commander:
1) In terms of accuracy, I’m inclined to agree with you. Except for the flintlocks (as I mentioned to you afterwards) which can be reloaded but this would be impractical during a battle. You’d get sliced open by a cutlass first.
2) Kirk vs. Ahab… I would say Kirk in The Wrath of Khan. Kirk was just as obsessed with vengeance then, and (at least in this movie) did not have exercise his seemingly unlimited license to copulate with the female members of various alien species.