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The Far Side of the World

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by CharlesD, Jul 16, 2002.

  1. CharlesD

    CharlesD Screenwriter

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    Filming is now under way for a film adaptation of Patrick O'Brian's The Far Side of the World.
    Aubrey is played by Russel Crowe, and Maturin by Paul Bettany. I don't see Crowe as Aubrey, but by all accounts Crowe takes his parts very seriously, even going so far as to take violin lessons for this part.
    The budget for this film is reported to be $135,000,000! Peter Weir is directing, and filming is currently under way (under weigh? [​IMG] ) in Mexico including life sized replicas of H.MS. Surprise in huge water tanks.
    Apparently the American privateer of the book has been changed to a French one. To use an overused phrase, it would not be "politically correct" to make the Americans the bad guys I guess. Also I suppose that given that 95% of the audience knows little if anything of the Napoleonic Wars and making the connection to the War of 1812 would not be worth the effort. Plus everybody hates the French!* [​IMG]
    I haven't run into any PO'B fans here on HTF, but there must be some, for all love. I am curious to think what everyone thinks about the project. I always have though that the Aubrey/Maturin books could make great "Merchant/Ivory" type films, but would also benefit from a huge budget to do the ships and battle scenes right.
    With Peter Wier at the helm maybe that's just we'll get! (I can hope anyway) I just hope that its done right, I hope they pay attention to the details: that the cannon recoil, the cannon balls don't explode, that the right sails are used at the right time, that Aubrey (or worse yet Maturin) isn't turned into an "action hero" I hope that keep some of the original dialog and forms of speech and that they keep some of O'Brian's sly (and not so sly) humor, and above all that they capture the essence of the two main characters.
    Perhaps, if the producer isn't a "mumping great villain", this will be a great film, a literary adaptation along the lines of what Peter Jackson has done with The Lord of the Rings.
    *"joke"
     
  2. CharlesD

    CharlesD Screenwriter

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    No O'Brian fans on HTF? Surely there must be some!

    It has been some time now since he was called "the best writer you never heard of" and everybody from Tom Stoppard and David Mamet to Walter Cronkite to George Will have sung his praises. I would have that there would be some fans of his here, but maybe everyone is too busy watching DVDs to read books!
     
  3. Werner_R

    Werner_R Stunt Coordinator

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    Haven't read the book nor do I know the story, you make it sound like a new Captain Horatio Hornblower movie, which is a good thing [​IMG]
     
  4. CharlesD

    CharlesD Screenwriter

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    Indeed the comparison of O'Brian's books to Hornblower is inevitable. Both are Royal Navy captains fighting Napoleon, O'Brain wrote a total of 20 books detailing Aubrey and Maturin's adventures (in chronological order.)
    I haven't read the Hornblower books yet, but it seems that O'Brian's books are better and have more depth. I did a quick search and here are the first 2 reviews I found that compare the two:
    http://dannyreviews.com/h/Aubrey_Maturin.html
    http://www.wjduquette.com/authors/csforester.html
    I certainly hope that O'Brian is in the same league as Forester because now O'Brian is dead there will be no more books and I need something for my Napoleonic sea-battle fix!
     
  5. Richard WWW

    Richard WWW Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't think 'politically correct' is the probable reason that they're making the privateer French instead of American. A better term would be 'fiscally responsible', maybe.
     
  6. JayV

    JayV Supporting Actor

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    I hope they don't tinker too much, but ...
    It seems to me that the best part of the books is something unique to the medium of print -- the world O'Brian creates in cooperation with the reader. Without that, what's left? Great material for a movie (one that I will certainly see), but something substantially different from the experience of the novels.
    O'Brian's novels create a very richly textured world that seems deeper and deeper with each re-reading. I don't think a $135 million movie will throw stuff at you, hoping that you will magically pause the movie and go get a dictionary (and any number of reference works that I have within arms-reach when reading POB).
    POB's novels can be pretty demanding to the reader; the best thing about the movie may be that it exposes potential POB fans to his work.
    I read a handful of Hornblower novels (and I have all the DVDs) and I can say unequivocally that they are similar mainly in setting. I enjoyed the Hornblower novels for a little while, but I stopped when I realized that I was constantly comparing it to POB.
    Werner, try POB! I'd recommend three resources:
    • A Sea of Words, by Dean King. This is a lexicon of people, places and things in POB's novels, as well as a few essays on the historical background of the novels.
    • Harbors and High Seas, an atlas and geographical guide to the novels.
    • Man-O-War, from Stephen Biesty's (amazing) Amazing Cross Sections series. It was published by DK and is now OOP, although you can find it for $6 in the remaindered section of Borders bookstore.
    Since I'm pretty much a monoglot, I also use A Guide for the Perplexed, translations of non-English phrases in POB's novels.
    Back to the movie, I saw some pix of the production on a web site a little while ago (can't remember where) and it does look good. The guy playing Maturin played the weaselly Prince of Orange in one of the "Sharpe's" BBC movies.
    Speaking of Sharpe, I really would've liked to see Sean Bean as Aubrey. It's true he could seem a little too old for the role, but then, so is Crowe (IMHO).
    I have my fingers crossed on this one.
    -j
     

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