The Bounty (1984) – Roger Donaldson

The next recommendation from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book following my return to the action genre and my screening of The Pirates of the Caribbean, is The Bounty.

This one has everything working for it, a score by Vangelis, an all-star cast including Anthony Hopkins, Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Bernard Hill, Edward Fox, and Laurence Olivier.

Based on the book by Robert Hough, it brings to life the story of the mutiny on the Bounty, the friendship between Bligh (Hopkins) and Christian (Gibson) and how it frays through the course of their voyage turning them into enemies.

Bligh recounts the tail of their trip to Tahiti through flashback during his trial. The story shows the shifts in power aboard the ship, as well as Christian’s desire to stay in Tahiti once he falls for one of the local girls, Mauatua (Tavaite Vernette).

The crew as well begin to succumb to the charms of the island and its people, all while Bligh watches on, focused only on his mission. He quickly becomes incensed with the behaviour of his men, and it drives him to a sadistic madness.

This insanity, that is augmented by the naval rules of the British navy and his own anger at the events of Tahiti, and it drives Christian to seize the Bounty, and cast Bligh and the loyal members of his crew adrift on one of the ship’s small slips.


The narrative follows both Fletcher Christian, and William Bligh, as they follow their own moral compasses, and then must pay, or atone for their actions. The actions of both men tear the crew apart, as well as those of the people of Tahiti, and it makes for a stunning, and dramatic retelling on the screen.

Perhaps the best telling of the mutiny, Hopkins and Gibson both turn in fantastic performances, the locations are stunning, and the supporting cast, and attention to detail are both top-notch.

It’s also a joy to see both Neeson and Day-Lewis in some of their earliest performances.

Gibson’s portrayal of a tortured soul, forced to turn against his own friend, is probably one of his finest, and Hopkins descent into angry madness is captivating.

While there are liberties taken with the actual event, and some of the characters, the tale is engaging, captivating, and the ship itself, looks beautiful.

The film, while not necessarily an adventure story, is very much a tale of the sea, and fits in nicely with the recommendations from the Great Movie – 100 Years of Film book, and brings the event to life in a way that had never been done before.




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