The Far Side of the World

Master and Commander


Crew of the HMS Surprise

This movie is based upon the tenth novel in the Master and Commander series by Patrick O'Brian, which started in 1969, inspiring 20 installments, all set during the early 19th century Napoleonic Wars, following the high seas adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and his ship surgeon Stephen Maturin (also a spy). If this first film is successful, it could easily become the first in a long series of adaptations. Author Patrick O'Brian died in January, 2000 at the age of 85.

His two great characters are a British sea captain, Jack Aubrey, in the Napoleonic wars and his best friend named Stephen Maturin. These two men could not be more different in temperament. Jack Aubry is gruff, burly, powerful, sort of a buffoon ashore, totally capable at sea and Stephen Maturin, whom he meets in the very first moments of the first book when, in fact, he gets in a quarrel and almost a duel with him in a concert, is shy, slightly shabby, quiet, absolutely brilliant, and a, as it turns out, a dedicated and effective counterrevolutionary spy against Napoleon, who of course at this time, Britain is fighting alone. Here's a plot synopsis :

"The War of 1812 continues, and Jack Aubrey sets course for Cape Horn on a mission after his own heart: intercepting a powerful American frigate outward bound to play havoc with the British whaling trade. Little do he and Maturin know that disaster awaits them in the Great South Sea: typhoons, shipwrecks, murder, and criminal insanity."

The script revolves around a ship, called the Surprise, and it's Captain, Jack . The British navy has informed Jack, that his mission is to destroy a French ship by the name of the Acheron, a job that many to date have failed. Jack, after a brief skermish in the beginning of the screenplay, notices that this will not be an easy task as they repair their damaged ship. But Jack must complete his mission, for these are his orders: to stop the ship at any costs.

Fox Marketers decided that the American public would never hold still for the United States as the enemy, so the Norfolk (the american vessel of Patrick O'Brian's book The Far Side of the World) has been renationalized as the French vessel Acheron. According to the Washington Post, it stands within the studio compound in somewhat truncated form, its masts and rigging abbreviated, its bowsprit ending in splinters, propped up with scaffolding near the open air 8 1/2-acre seaside pond/tank where "Titanic" met her iceberg.

Filming: Production started in mid-June, 2002, filming at the Fox Studios Baja in northern Mexico (the water sets built for their filming of Titanic), wrapping in mid-October, 2002. The film has been released in november 2003. Its budget is about $135 million. This would easily make it Weir's most expensive film. (The Truman Show was budgeted at only $60 million.)

Director Peter Weir needed 200 men (between 20 and 40 years old) with long hair to work as extras in the film, mainly in Baja Studios in Popotla.The scenes the extra hands were required for the battle between the French ship Archeron, the enemy, and the HMS Rose "commanded" by Russell Crowe.

What Patrick O'Brian would have thought of this movie is hard to guess. He sold the film rights to his first Aubrey/Maturin book, "Master and Commander," to Samuel Goldwyn Jr. before his second U.S. book tour in 1995. Goldwyn also purchased options to film the rest of the series.



1ST LT. THOMAS PULLINGS by actor James D'Arcy

MIDSHIPMAN HOLLOM by actor Lee Ingleby


SURGEON'S MATE HIGGINS by actor Richard McCabe

MR. HOGG, WHALER by actor Mark Lewis Jones

ABLE SEAMAN JOE PLAICE by actor George Innes


MASTER ALLEN by actor Robert Pugh


CAPTAIN JACK AUBREY by actor Russell Crowe









Wallpaper: click on the picture

Backgrund Information about the
Napoleonic Wars and the Movie
Master and commander 5: huge photos
Cast and Crew The ships of those times
The crew of the Surprise (from the Premiere documents) The Royal Film Premiere
The Ships and Sets (from the Premiere documents) Creating the most realistic sea storm ever filmed (from the Premiere documents)
Historical and Character Research (from the Premiere documents) A dictionary of nautical terms for Landlubbers
The Captain's Log Musical Evenings with the Captain