Mel Gibson in The Bounty (1984)

Taking Their Freedom

Chosen to Captain "The Bounty" to Tahiti, Lieutenant William Bligh (Anthony Hopkins) asks his friend Fletcher Christian (Mel Gibson) to be Master's Mate. And although their journey encounters difficulties when navigating a Cape they reach their destination. But there Christian and many of the crew, including Seaman Charles Churchill (Liam Neeson), succumb to the pleasures of the island, especially the topless women. When Bligh becomes angered by what he sees as indiscipline and not only starts punishing many but orders the crew to return to the ship to leave it causes tension between the Captain and many of his men. When an angry Fletcher is approached by Edward Young (Phil Davis) he sets about leading the men upon a mutiny on the Bounty.

I have had "The Bounty" on DVD for more years than I care to remember, I don't care to remember because it was still sealed and was one of those movies which I kept on saying I would watch but never got around to. It wasn't until I caught a bit of it on TV late one night that I got the urge to break the seal on the DVD and finally watch it. And whilst there are certain aspects to "The Bounty" which date it as an 80s movie, the combo of soundtrack and lingering shots of sunsets for one, it is still an entertaining movie and far from a stuffy costume drama that some of these period dramas tend to be.

Anthony Hopkins in The Bounty (1984)

Now thinking about "The Bounty" and it is difficult to put my finger on one thing which stands out as the acting from all is solid with the likes of Neil Morrissey delivering as an entertaining performance as say Daniel Day-Lewis, Phil Davis or Mel Gibson. But the cinematography and editing is just as good with the whole movie moving along at a nice pace so that whilst characters and situations are established, such as Christian falling for a local who ends up pregnant, it never feels like anything is lingered on for too long. Basically it feels like director Roger Ronaldson focussed on telling the story rather than using "The Bounty" to say look at what I can do or allowing it to be just a showcase for the actors.

As such the star of "The Bounty" is very much this story of friendship, jealousy, anger and betrayal which draws you in and keeps you watching with Roger Donaldson doing a fantastic job of bringing out the emotion and tension of this storyline. As such we go on this journey of friendship between Bligh and Christian but then on Tahiti when Christian falls for a local we begin to question Bligh's motivation for punishing his friend. But we also feel that conflict which Christian has when it comes to not just betraying his friend but dealing with his friend's cruel actions towards him.

What this all boils down to is that "The Bounty" is still, after more than 30 years, a powerful movie where despite all the stars and great cinematography the focus of the movie is on bringing the story of the mutiny on the Bounty to life which it does.