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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > History > Naval > Character Study > British > Australia > Family > Turkey > The Bounty (1984/Orion/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Ships (2013/Indiepix DVD)

The Bounty (1984/Orion/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Ships (2013/Indiepix DVD)

Picture: B/C Sound: B-/C+ Extras: B/C Films: B/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Bounty Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, can be ordered from the link below and is limited to only 3,000 copies.

Here are two dramas centered in part on boats and ships...

Roger Donaldson's The Bounty (1984) is yet another solid, underseen cinematic telling of the infamous mutiny on the great HMS Bounty ship that pitted Captain Bligh against Fletcher Christian, the stuff that legends are made of. The original 1935 film with Charles Laughton as Bligh and Clark Gable as Christian is a highly influential (as well as referenced and imitated) classic, but it has not been seen as much in recent years as it ought to be. MGM then remade it as a huge, expensive, Technicolor epic in the extreme widescreen Ultra Panavision 70 format with Trevor Howard as Bligh and Marlon Brando as Christian that tried to further open up the tale, but was not a commercial success sadly. It even hurt Brando's career for a while.

So a few decades later, Orion Pictures (who had nothing to do with MGM then, but whose catalog is owned by the current MGM; the remains of Orion after going sadly bankrupt in the early 1990s) decided to become involved in a new production that not only tried to be more naturalistic and realistic than the previous films, but took a new tact at looking at the story. Screenplay writer Robert Bolt (Lawrence Of Arabia, A Man For All Seasons, Doctor Zhivago, Ryan's Daughter) decided to dig deeper into the case and turn the story into more of a character study, resulting in another special film version of the story.

Told in flashback, Bligh (a clever turn by Anthony Hopkins worth of his predecessors), is on royal trial as an investigation is underway to see what happened and if he himself is guilty in any way for the fiasco that could embarrass the crown and worse. Headed by Admiral Hood (Lawrence Olivier in top form) with fellow brass (including Edward Fox as Captain Greetham and highly underrated Jack May (Adam Adamant Lives!) as the Prosecuting Captain) in tow, they intend to go through the events with a fine tooth comb. Bligh is ready to explain.

Mel Gibson (showing again his acting chops at the time before becoming a worldwide blockbuster movie star, not wanting to get bogged down at the time by the commercial success of the first Mad Max) proves to be Hopkins equal as Christian, a good, sympathetic man who seems to be getting along with Bligh at first, but Bligh still intends to stick by his standards. They are off getting breadfruit for the crown, but the crew discovery of the very liberated islanders will more than challenge the crew's discipline and Bligh's authority.

For here, the film spends the rest of its 131 minutes total trying to show what really might have happened and what we now know we may not have known before the last films about the actual historical event. The film does this so well, there has not been another remake, though some TV versions have surfaced. Then you have an amazing supporting cast including Daniel Day Lewis in his first major film role, Liam Neeson more than holding his own in only his fifth feature film, Neil Morrissey's first big screen work (a longtime character actor now also the voice of Bob The Builder), Dexter Fletcher (Bugsy Malone, The Elephant Man, Caravaggio, Kick-Ass), Stephen Fletcher, Philip Davis (Quadrophenia, Pink Floyd The Wall, Alien 3, Vera Drake) and Simon Chandler (The King's Speech, A Bridge Too Far) make up what is really an incredible cast by any standard.

But Donaldson is at the helm and has never handles so much in one film in his long career as he does here. After this and the earlier Smash Palace, he moved on to hit thrillers (No Way Out), underrated thrillers (The Bank Job, White Sands), blatant commercial projects (Cocktail, Species) and has more coming up. This remains among his most accomplished work, as is the case for many here and it is long overdue to finally be discovered for the smart epic gem it is. Guess too many wanted Bligh to be a boo hiss villain, but he was more. This Twilight Time Blu-ray only has 3,000 copies pressed, so get it now if you want it!

Extras include another nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and an essay by Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray adds two feature length audio commentary tracks (one with Director Donaldson, Producer Bernard Williams (A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, Manhunter (1986)) & Production Designer John Graysmark (Ragtime, Lords Of Discipline, White Sands), the other with Historical Consultant Stephen Walters), the Original Theatrical Trailer and Isolated Music Score track of Vangelis' fine work here.

Elif Refig's Ships (2013) is a sometimes raw, sometimes beautiful film about a young man named Ali (Ugur Uzunel) who works for a father he does not get along with and wish he was not trapped in the world he was in, stuck in a job he does not care to take seriously. His brother tries to bridge the gap, but Ali sees all the title vehicles coming into the docks where they work and it suggest a sense of possible escape. It becomes metaphor throughout and there are some nice moments throughout its 92 minutes, as it always takes itself (and its audience) seriously.

However, it also has some predictability, offers a situation where only a few things can result and if it was not taking us somewhere geographically (Turkey) we don't see much or has such a good cast, this would be even more seemingly formulaic. Refig's directing is a plus and that makes it worth a look from a filmmaker who deserves to make another film.

Refig's short film Man To Be and an Original Theatrical Trailer are the extras.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Bounty can show the age of the materials used in some scene, but this is easily the best transfer of the film to date with some nice demo shots at its best. Shot by Director of Photography Arthur Ibbetson (Where Eagles Dare, Anne Of A Thousand Days, Die! Die! My Darling!) in the underrated J-D-C Scope format that includes other great films of the time (Return Of The Jedi, Year Of The Dragon, Poltergeist, Blue Velvet) and recent ones (The Notebook, the original Step Up, Afterschool (2008), The Last Passenger (2013), this film distinguishes itself from the classic 1935 version (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and the underrated Marlon Brando 1962 Ultra Panavision 70mm remake (now on Blu-ray in its best version yet). If anything, the work has only appreciated in value. Fans of the film and film in general will be

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Ships was shot on Kodak film in the also underrated Super 16mm film format, with a nice look by Director of Photography Turksoy Golebeyi (The Voice (2010), The Guest (2011), Inside (2012)) in a transfer that gives us an idea of how this should look, but one that is a little more muddy and detail-challenged than it ought to be. This needs and deserves an HD remaster, but this is still watchable and better than many similar HD shoots I have seen of late.

In the sound department, Bounty offers a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix that is not bad, but can show its age in the way dialogue is recorded, though the Vangelis score (also here in a lossless isolated music track!) stands out. The film was a Dolby A-type analog release in its 35mm print release, but there is controversy about if it was a 70mm blow-up release, and if so, was it in Dolby 70mm or just regular 6-track magnetic sound presentation. The sound is good enough here to make one consider that a 70mm soundmaster was somehow used, even if it was planned for a blow-up print that never happened.

The lossy Turkish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix on Ships is better than its image, including burned-in subtitles, but has weak surrounds if any and though some sources say this is a Dolby and.or DTS theatrical release of some kind, that is nowhere to be found on the end credits.

To order The Bounty limited edition Blu-rays, buy I and other great exclusives while supplies last at this link:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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