Movie Review: Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

Synopsis: In 1787, the British ship, Bounty, is given the task of sailing to Tahiti and bringing back breadfruit trees while under the command of Captain William Bligh. Bligh proves to be both incompetent and cruel, leading to unrest with the men on board the ship. Caught in the middle of this is his 1st Lieutenant, Fletcher Christian, who is disgusted by his captain's actions but is reluctant to take action.

Who's in it? The movie stars Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard, Richard Harris, Hugh Griffith and Richard Haydn.

Review: I have wanted to see this particular movie for a number of years now but never seemed to find the time to do so, especially since the film is nearly 3 hours in length. However, I had some free time yesterday morning, while my wife was still in bed and the kids were at their grandmother's and was able to get through just enough of it to be able to finish it up early this morning. Overall, I have to say I was happy I finally had the opportunity to see it.

To tell you the truth, based on the title and the fact this is a movie set at sea, I was expecting a little more action in it and was a little surprised the actual mutiny only took up a few minutes of the overall film. Despite that, I did find there was a lot to like about this classic.

For one, I loved Brando's performance as Fletcher Christian. It was fun to watch him push the limits of his captain's patience without actually breaking any rules or giving Bligh (Howard) an excuse to punish him. This, in turn, gave Bligh a bit more of a human side by occasionally humbling him while, at the same time, didn't make him any less menacing as the film's bad guy.

In fact, Bligh himself was actually kind of an intriguing character in this movie. There's a lot not to like about him, especially when he tries to rule his ship with an iron fist with no regard for the life of the men on his crew. But, at the same time, he does occasionally manage to show flashes of real leadership ability, including when they get to Tahiti and he manages to negotiate and protect his trade agreement with the natives by showing a surprising amount of diplomacy. In other words, he wasn't necessarily unqualified to be captain, he was just overly zealous and ambitious with his first command.

I also liked how the movie took the time to show the negative part of the mutiny, including infighting with the mutineers and quite a bit of regret on Christian's part when he realizes he doesn't have a country to go back to and, by running away, has allowed Bligh to ultimately exonerate himself. This did give the mutiny a feeling of dread that made the rest of the film a bit more interesting because it was unclear just how his second thoughts, combined with a group of undisciplined sailors, would affect their ability to get away with it.

If I had any complaints about this movie, it would be the dragged-out scenes in Tahiti, which just seemed to take up more time than it really needed, especially since the movie had a narrator that could have easily summarized everything. It's probably just me, but I didn't think a movie as long as this one needed what was essentially filler material.

Final Opinion: It might have been slightly better with a longer fight scene but, overall, I thought this was a good movie that was worth taking the time to watch. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it.

My Grade: A


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