Master and Commander: On the other side of the world

Master and Commander : the other side of the world or Master and Commander: the other side of the world toCanadaFrench (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the Worldin the original version) is amovieAmerican directed byPeter Weirout in2003, inspired by the volumes Master on board , The Surprise , War Fortune , On the other side of the world , The Letter from Mark drawn from the series of 21 historical and maritime novels, The Aubreyades , written by the British novelistPatrick O’Brian.

The film met with a great success with critics. Named in ten categories at the 76 th Academy Awards , it won them the Best Cinematography and Best Editing for his .


In 1805 , during the Napoleonic wars , HMS Surprise , an English ship, commanded by Captain Jack Aubrey called Jack the Luck, set off in pursuit of the French ship Acheronacross the Pacific Ocean, fighting in particular with Cape Horn . A real game of hunting takes place between the two enemy ships, which must also face a capricious sea. They also cross the Galapagos Islands , whose fauna and flora will be of great interest to the surgeon Stephen Maturin, passionate naturalist and precursor of Charles Darwin. The film also depicts the marine world and hierarchies within a warship. Captain Jack then plays the role of sole master on board, surrounded by his sailors and soldiers whom he commands. Only Stephen, the captain’s longtime friend, seems to be on the same pedestal as Jack. It is the only one that stands up to the captain when it comes to questioning his role as captain and the naval military system as a whole, which leaves room for many discussions between two good friends or between a captain and his doctor when opinions diverge, especially when the sailor Joseph Nagle is whipped on the deck of the ship in front of the entire crew, for bad behavior.

It is by going to the other side of an accosted island to capture flightless cormorants , then unknown in England, that Stephen surprises the Acheron . He goes back to HMS Surprise to inform the captain. Jack decides to make up his ship as a whaler: new painting, disguise sailors, change of flag … Everything is done to let the Acheron approach . The French bite the hook, and the Acheronis approached. After a quick fight, the English take control of the boat. Jack finds the captain in the infirmary, dead. The doctor on board, the doctor of Vigny gives to Jack the sword of the captain, according to the will of this one. Part of the English crew is left on the Acheron , to take him to Valparaiso .

Later, while discussing with Stephen, Jack learns that Dr. de Vigny had died several months before the recent clash. He then assumes that the French captain is still alive, having pretended to be the ship’s doctor, and that the French may have regained control of the ship. He decides to go once again to the Acheron , with the objective of “escorting him to Valparaiso “.

Technical sheet

  • Original title: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • French title: Master and Commander : On the other side of the world
  • Québec title: Master on board: on the other side of the world
  • Director: Peter Weir
  • Scenario: Peter Weir and John Collee from the novels of Patrick O’Brian’s Les Aubreyades
  • Music: Iva Davies , Christopher Gordon , Richard Tognetti , Luigi Boccherini , Arcangelo Corelli and Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Photography: Russell Boyd
  • Set decorator: Robert Gould
  • Editing: Lee Smith
  • Role Distribution: Mary Selway and Fiona Weir
  • Set design: William Sandell
  • Costume Design: Wendy Stites
  • Artistic direction: Bruce Crone, Mark W. Mansbridge
  • Sound editing: Richard King
  • Sound mixing: Paul Massey, Doug Hemphill and Art Rochester
  • Makeup, hairstyle: Edouard Henriques and Yolanda Toussieng
  • Stunt Coordinator: Daniel W. Barringer, Doug Coleman
  • Production: Samuel Goldwyn Jr. , Duncan Henderson and Peter Weir
  • Production Companies: 20th Century Fox , Universal Pictures and Miramax Films
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Format: Color – 2.35: 1 – Dolby Digital / DTS – 35 mm
  • Genre: adventure , historical film
  • Time: 138 minutes ( 2 h 18 )
  • Release dates 1 :
    •  Canada , United States : 
    •  France :


  • Russell Crowe (VF: Marc Alfos ) : Captain Jack Aubrey
  • Paul Bettany (VF: Jérôme Pauwels ) : doctor Stephen Maturin , surgeon
  • James D’Arcy : the st Lt. Tom Pullings
  • Edward Woodall : the e Lieutenant William Mowett
  • Chris Larkin : Captain Howard
  • Max Pirkis : Blakeney
  • Jack Randall : Boyle
  • Max Benitz (VF: Hervé Grull ) : Calamy
  • Lee Ingleby (VF: Alexis Tomassian ) Hollom
  • Richard Pates : Williamson
  • Robert Pugh (VF: Claude Brosset ) : Mr. Allen
  • Richard McCabe : Mr. Higgins
  • Ian Mercer : Mr. Hollar
  • Tony Dolan : Mr. Lamb, the carpenter
  • David Threlfall : Preserved Killick
  • Billy Boyd (VF: Pierre Tessier ) : Barrett Bonden
  • Bryan Dick (VF: Vincent Ropion ) : Joseph Nagle
  • Joseph Morgan (VF: Cédric Dumond ) : William Warley
  • George Innes : Joe Plaice
  • William Mannering : Faster Doudle
  • Patrick Gallagher : Awkward Davies
  • Alex Palmer : Nehemiah Slade
  • Mark Lewis Jones : Mr. Hogg
  • John DeSantis : Padeen
  • Ousmane Thiam : Black Bill
  • Thierry Segall (VF: himself) : the French captain

Comparison between film and books

The film combines elements from various novels by Patrick O’Brian , taken from the true story of sailor Thomas Cochrane . The main plot is from The Other Side of the World , reporting an episode of the 1812 Anglo-American War . However, in the film version, the action takes place in 1805, ie during the Napoleonic wars, instead of 1812, apparently at the request of the producers, in order not to depict Americans in the position of villains in front of an American audience 2 . As a result, the fictional French Acheron replaces US frigate USS Norfolk in the eponymous novel.


Box office

Master and Commander ranks e at the box office the first of its US opening weekend, the, generating $ 25,105,990 . It drops to th position following the second weekend it was released, and the th spot on the third weekend. In addition to the Atlantic, the film generates $ 118,083,191 in revenue, notably in Italy (with $ 15,111,841 ). Thus, worldwide, the film will have generated a total amount of nearly 212,011,111 .


The film was very well received; 85% of the 208 assessments identified by the Rotten Tomatoes global website gave the film a positive overall rating. “The brutal charm of Russell Crowe is used in this masterly adaptation of Patrick O’Brian’s novel” 4 . On Metacritic, the film has a rating of 81 out of 100 based on 42 reviews, indicating “A universal acclaim” 5 . Roger Ebert gave the film 4 stars out of 4, saying that “he achieves the epic without losing sight of the human” 6 .

In France, the film is well received, receiving a score of 4.2 out of 5 on the Allociné website , listing critics of spectators and the press, like Jean-Luc Douin for Le Monde : “If, at Beyond the brio with which he orchestrates his film of the time, his buccaneering fights, Peter Weir signs an author film at the same time as a spectacular film, it is also because one finds in Master and Commander d other key themes: the search for personal fulfillment and teacher-student relationships (…), and especially the immersion of a character in a closed, autarkic, often regressive world ” 7 . The Inrockuptibles regret the lack of action outside the fight scenes 7 .

Anecdotes about the film

  • Actor Russell Crowe was fascinated by the role of Jack Aubrey, as did the team as well as dozens of people who did not hesitate to stand in their way.
  • Master and Commander allowed the reunion behind the camera of Russel Crowe and Paul Bettany, two years after An exceptional man .
  • For Master and Commander on the other side of the world, director Peter Weir wanted to recruit actors with “faces that resembled those of yesteryear, (…) people who do not have those smiles of magazines without soul or these cynical and disillusioned expressions “. He therefore chose 130 actors from around the world among 7000 casting candidates to form the crew of HMS Surprise .
  • For the purposes of the film, the ship used is the Rose , which was a school ship of the US Navy .
  • Filming was mainly done on the Rose , and the only scenes shot on the mainland were on the Galapagos Islands that can be seen in the film. This is the first time a film is shot in this part of the world 8 .

Historical errors [ change | change the code ]

French flag of 1805.

The Acheron sports the bad French flag: in 1805, it consisted of a central white rhombus and four triangles alternately red and blue.

False. This is a regimental flag and not the tricolor marine flag established by the Convention on February 15, 1794 and still in use today.

Master and Commander does not translate and especially not by “master on board”. It is a temporary title, not a rank, granted for the duration of a mission to a lieutenant commanding a small building (cutter, brick, schooner …). The crew being reduced, it is Commander since it controls the building and Master since it takes the place of bosun. The title is abbreviated to Order by the Royal Navy Regulations of 1795, but by tradition, it will last a few years. An M & Cdr never commands a frigate or a ship. When in the film, Jack Aubrey wears his full dress, his two epaulettes, and his dress trim indicate that he is a post-captain, that he has at least three years of seniority in command. a listed building,

Source: 1795 Royal Navy Regulations. Title concerning the modification of grades and uniforms.


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  • At the 2004 Oscars , the film won two awards:
    • Oscar for Best Photograph for Russell Boyd
    • Oscar for Best Sound Editing for Richard King
  • As part of this ceremony, the film was also nominated in eight other categories:
    • Oscar for Best Director for Peter Weir
    • Oscar for best film for Samuel Goldwyn Jr. , Peter Weir and Duncan Henderson
    • Oscar for best editing for Lee Smith
    • Oscar for best sound mixing for Paul Massey, Doug Hemphill and Art Rochester
    • Oscar for best makeup for Edouard F. Henriques and Yolanda Toussieng
    • Oscar for Best Visual Effects for Daniel Sudick, Stefen Fangmeier, Nathan McGuinness and Robert Stromberg
    • Oscar for Best Costume Design for Wendy Stites
    • Oscar for Best Sets for William Sandell and Robert Gould


List of songs
o title Composer (s) duration
1. The Far Side of the World Christopher Gordon 9:17
2. Into the Fog Christopher Gordon 2:11
3. Violin Concerto No. 3 – Rondo & Allegro Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1:18
4. The Cuckold Comes out of the Amery Traditional 3:26
5. Smoke n’oakum Christopher Gordon 5:25
6. Fantasy on a theme by Thomas Tallis Ralph Vaughan Williams 5:10
7. Concerto Grosso No. 8, op. 6 – Adagio Arcangelo Corelli 1:55
8. The Doldrums Christopher Gordon 2:45
9. Suite for Cello No. 1 in G major – Prelude Johann Sebastian Bach 2:28
10. The Galapagos Christopher Gordon 1:38
11. Folk Medley Traditional 5:10
12. The Phasmid Christopher Gordon 2:34
13. The Battle Christopher Gordon 5:04
14. Quintet op. 30 n ° 6 ( The Musica Notturna of the Strade of Madrid ) Luigi Boccherini 9:21
15. Full Circle Christopher Gordon 1:34

Notes and references

  1. ↑ (en) Release dates [ archive ] on the Internet Movie Database
  2. ↑ Cathy Schultz, The British Navy Sails again in “Master and Commander”  [ archive ] , Joliet Herald News, April 18, 2004.
  3. ↑ (in) Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World ”  [ archive ] , Box Office Mojo (accessed February 25, 2017 ) .
  4. ↑ (in) Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World ”  [ archive ] (accessed February 20, 2017 )
  5. ↑ ” Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World ”  [ archive ] (accessed February 20, 2017 )
  6. ↑ (in) Roger Ebert , ” Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World Movie Review (2003) | Roger Ebert ”  [ archive ] , on (accessed February 20, 2017 )
  7. ↑ a and b AlloCine , ” Master & Commander: On the other side of the world: Press Critics ”  [ archive ] (accessed February 21, 2017 )
  8. ↑ AlloCine , ” The secrets of filming the film Master & Commander: on the other side of the world ”  [ archive ] (accessed February 20, 2017 )

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