English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, English - Hearing Impaired, Italian - Hearing Impaired
Additional footage - Academy Award Presntation
Mutiny on the Bounty
Warner Bros./Warner Home Video .
R4 . COLOR . 127 mins .
G . PAL
The Bounty was a relatively small ship in His Majesty's fleet of 1787, but one charged with the important task of sailing to Tahiti and loading up with a thousand bread fruit plants to take to the West Indies to feed the slave population. A little like the plot of Gilligan's Island, the ship was bound for a “two-year voyage – a two year voyage,” that ended up lasting forever for some of the crew.
"Mr Christian! Why is this man wearing stripes with stripes?"
Led by Captain Bligh (Charles Laughton), The Bounty set sail with its combination of volunteers and press-ganged crew members. The trip was a nightmare from the outset for the crew, even the second-in-command, Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable), found Bligh's captaincy to be questionable at best, and immoral and unjust at worst. Bligh's captaincy was based on one of respect borne of fear, and while it appeared to work on the surface, it merely masked the discontent, loathing and hatred for Bligh that bubbled away underneath.
The crew was forced to witness floggings for trivial offences (one man was already dead and still received his flogging), keel hauling and other forms of punishment such as rationing, deprivation of water and being sent to the top of the mast during a wild storm. Such discontent at this treatment, while those in command feasted on, must surely manifest itself somewhere, sometime, and it eventually did. Just after reaching their destination of Tahiti, with several key crew sewing the seeds of mutiny in his head, Fletcher Christian acted after yet another bout of Bligh's cruel captaincy ended in tragedy.
Setting Bligh and his supporters adrift, the mutinous crew returned to Tahiti and quickly settled down to their new life in paradise. However, Bligh, the quintessential seaman and leader, defied the odds and survived, to captain the Pandora back to Tahiti in an attempt to find Christian and the mutineers, and drag them back to England for a dose of military justice - court martialing and hanging from a yardarm until dead, dead, dead!
With the Pandora spotted by the Bounty mutineers who had well and truly established themselves on Tahiti, they took the chance to flee to a neighbouring island, Pitcairn Island as it happened, scuttled The Bounty, and preyed that Bligh would not find them. When Bligh managed to smash The Pandora on a reef, the jig was up, but he had managed to pick up a handful of the original non-mutinous crew that had not been quick enough to join Bligh when he was banished from The Bounty and were therefore considered mutineers, who would have to face that court martial back home.
The crew had resorted to using innovative forms of bait.
Winning an Academy Award in 1935 for 'Best Production', Mutiny on the Bounty is actually a decent film, based on a true series of events. The direction of Frank Lloyd is good, and the acting is generally solid, especially Laughton as the tyrannical and cruel Bligh and Franchot Tone as Christian's friend and midshipman, Byam. Only Gable himself comes across as a bit wussy and unconvincing.
The special effects and bitch-slapping fight scenes are quite laughable, but keep in mind that this was made 70 years ago when most of us were not even a glint in our grandfather's eye. It is a pleasant and enjoyable enough way to spend a damp and cold Sunday afternoon.
Being older than most other films available on DVD, any landlubebrs expecting miracles should give up reading this right here and now. The full frame aspect ratio is close enough to the original ratio of 1.37:1 so as not to be a worry, save for the opening titles which are ever so slightly cropped
The whole thing is black and white, and is of varying contrast, with some whites being particularly bright and others bordering in grey. Grain is a constant and again varies dramatically from mild to quite noticeable. Film artefacts seem to vary in both frequency and impact, with some scenes being quite clean and mark free, while others have noticeable scratches and gunk. Overall though, there are more 'clean' scenes than marked ones.
There are also several very minor glitches and film jumps, as well as the odd line or two that flashes up, but given the age of the film anything better would be most unlikely. There is a layer change rather well placed at 57:51 and, all things considered, Mutiny on the Bounty most likely now looks as good as it ever will.
Don't you just hate it when you spot someone else wearing the same outfit?
While there are several language options (English, Italian, French), they are all Dolby Digital mono. While you might expect a plethora of horrors, in general the audio is decent enough. The basics such as volume, clarity and synchronisation are all good, but there is some noticeable hiss throughout that, thankfully, is not intrusive. Naturally there is no work for the surround speakers nor subwoofer, meaning there is a tendency for the more dramatic and heavily scored scenes to sound a little thin and tinny, but so be it from a film this old.
The few extras are interesting enough, especially Pitcairn Island Today, well, in 1935 at least. Riddled with artefacts, this ten-minute documentary of life in Pitcairn in 1935 is interesting as a look at what happened in the 150 years after The Bounty was wrecked, and for the condescending and unintentionally humorous tone of the narrator.
Mutiny on the Bounty Wins 1935 Award is a one-minute Hearst Metrotone News item that shows the 1935 'Best Film' award being bestowed upon, I believe, the producer of the film, Albert Lewin.
Lastly, there is a three-minute theatrical trailer for the film, complete with rousing music, dramatic scenes from the film and some of those amusing Batman style graphics that leap from the screen.
If you love the classics, or enjoy a bit of black and white nostalgia every now and then, and enjoy watching the bygone stars of the silver screen, then Mutiny on the Bounty ought to serve you well. It moves along at a nice enough pace, but thank heaven for Laughton, who truly gives the film some bite, and is a scene stealer almost every time he is in shot. Classic stuff.