The Bounty is an intelligent, firstrate, revisionist telling of the famous tale of Fletcher Christian’s mutiny against Captain Bligh. The $20 million-plus film is particularly distinguished by a sensational, and startlingly human, performance by Anthony Hopkins as Bligh, heretofore one of history’s most one-dimensional villains.
Present third version of the yarn was initiated by director David Lean, who brought Robert Bolt aboard to write the entire Bounty saga [based on the book Captain Bligh and Mr Christian by Richard Hough]. Lean eventually moved on, and Dino De Laurentiis paid for the construction of a replica ship.
This is a remake with a reason, that being the exoneration and rehabilitation of the reputation of William Bligh. A British Naval court-martial, which serves to frame Bolt’s dramatization, ultimately absolved Bligh of blame for the mutiny, and he went on to enjoy a distinguished career.
The mutiny itself is here presented as a chaotic mess, with Christian nearly delirious. Bligh’s subsequent 4,000-mile voyage to safety in an open boat is depicted as the amazing, arduous achievement that it was.
Tailor-made physically to fit the mold of old-style heroes, Mel Gibson gets across Christian’s melancholy and torn motivations in excellent fashion.