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Mutiny on the Bounty - Blu-ray Digibook Review

Synopsis: HMS Bounty sails for Tahiti by way of Cape Horn?and into movie lore. Grandly filmed, Mutiny on the Bounty captured the 1935 Best Picture Academy Award and eight nominations total.* Charles Laughton portrays Captain Bligh, a seafaring monster ruling with the law of fear. Clark Gable is first officer Fletcher Christian, whose will to obey erodes under Bligh's tyranny. And Franchot Tone plays idealistic midshipman Byam, torn by his allegiance to both. That all three portrayals are vividly memorable is accented by the fact that for the only time in Oscar history, three stars from the same film were Best Actor nominees.
5 Stars


Mutiny on the Bounty Blu-ray Digibook Review

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There’s a sense of danger that still lurks about in the corners of the frame in Frank Lloyd’s Mutiny on the Bounty, a classic film from 1935 which won that year’s Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.  Starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable and noted for its whopping budget of 2 million dollars, Lloyd’s masterpiece of high seas adventure is still a mighty success of a picture – managing, in spite of the passage of years, to remain contemporary in its production and its acting.

With the devil’s temper at its heart, Mutiny on the Bounty is the story of two minds pitted against each other.  Captain William Bligh (Laughton) believes in disciplining the sailors aboard the H.M.S. Bounty by the most abusive methods known.  Bushy-browed and luring over the shoulders of his crew like some ethereal gargoyle, he is not to be ignored nor are his abusive methods to be questioned.  Ever.  Yet, First Officer Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable) can’t continue to idly watch the men suffer at the maniacal hands of Bligh.  Denied shore leave by an angry Bligh, Christian manages to finagle his release onto the island of Tahiti, only to join forces with its inhabitants to make sure the crew survives the cruel whips and chains of their enraged and power-lusting captain – even if that means they never return home again.

One of the most memorable sequences comes in the first twenty minutes as Bligh, insulted by a crew man’s behavior toward a commanding officer, carries out his punishment of whipping even after the man has died.  Yes, he is whipped.  To Bligh it means everything: orders and punishment must be followed out to the letter.  Laughton as Captain Bligh is every bit the dangerous man you understand Bligh to be; this is a great role for Laughton and he relishes in it, celebrating the perma-frown he dons for mates and crew alike.  It is a disturbing role - very dark and diseased - and Lloyd’s picture anchors itself to Laughton’s role.

Gable, in the role of stoic and righteous defiance as Christian, has less to do for the camera, but his fight – his cause – becomes the audiences’ too in that we welcome the capture of and escape from Bligh.  He’s equally determined and maybe wiser which he has to be careful about revealing to Bligh.  If Bligh understands what Christian is capable of, then all is lost; Bligh wouldn’t risk his command of the Bounty.  His sole friend onboard, Midshipman Roger Byam (Franchot Tone) provides some welcome relief to the mounting tension Christian feels toward his sadistic captain, but the camaraderie isn’t enough to keep him from “shooting the shark on board” the Bounty and helping those who have been mistreated in their mutiny against the captain and his brainwashed crew.

One of the biggest hits of its day, Mutiny on the Bounty has a certain amount of modern eloquence about it.  Its narrative, based on the novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, is both exciting and interesting in its portrayal of sadism as sympathetic and sudden role-reversal when Christian finds his own leadership called into question by Byam.  There’s a harrowing sense of justice and desperation – a sense to both that chills the soul – when the film concludes and that, in itself, is reason enough to climb aboard the Bounty once again as it sails across the Great South Seas and relive this timeless tale of mutiny and consequence.


Component Grades
Movie
Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars
4 stars
Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - November 16, 2010
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish, German SDH, Portuguese, Norwegian
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono; French: Dolby Digital Mono; Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono; Portuguese: Dolby Digital Mono; German: Dolby Digital Mono
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); DigiBook

Mutiny on the Bounty Blu-ray Digibook Review

Blu-ray Specifications:

Presented in Warner Bros elegant hardback book approach to classic films, Lloyd’s film is a solid entry into the sea of high definition. Restored and remastered for its 75th anniversary, the print is presented in the standard 4:3 ratio as is to be expected for films of that time period. The “look” of the film isn’t without its flaws; it’s soft in a few areas and has some flickering and light damage that’s too be expected, but the HD transfer reveals a lot more detail than ever seen before from any print of Mutiny on the Bounty and that is certainly to be celebrated. While the sound does have its limitations, its high-resolution DTS-HD Master Audio mono track is appreciated – even if it has to work a bit too much in certain areas.

Commentary:

None

Special Features:

The disc comes housed inside a hardbound digi-book full of 34 pages of photos and interesting text.  There aren’t a lot of featurettes, but the two that are included are from vintage newsreels.

  • Pitcairn Island Today (10 min)
  • Mutiny on Bounty Wins 1935 Award (1 min)

Trailers for 1935 film and the 1962 remake

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