November 06, 2006

Gratuitous Royal Navy Netflix Review


I am very patiently making my way through the Hornblower series.

The good part? I think Ioan Gruffudd is exactly right in the title part. Horatio's character is moody, broody, constantly thinking and prone to bouts of morose self-doubt (indeed, there are times when one wishes to smack him for it) and I think Gruffudd gets all of that in his expressions very nicely.

The bad part? Well, you knew this was coming, Bill, but there's too much mucking about with the story lines - transposing characters, inventing some new ones and tossing old ones, fiddling with the chronology, bending plots around, etc., etc.

Oh, and the mock Indefatigable they sail around is far too small. The "Indy" was a heavy frigate - indeed, she was originally a 64-gun two-decker that was cut down to a single deck of 44 guns. I could make out no more than eleven gun-ports per side on this one. Also, she carried a gaff-rigged spanker on her mizzen, something I'm pretty sure the larger frigates would not employ. Indeed, she looked much more about the size of Jack Aubrey's Surprise, a 6th-Rate.

I know the producers were faced with a simple lack of three-masted sailing ships for filming and had to work with what was available, but still........

UPDATE: Which reminds me - anybody out there ever read Forester's African Queen? I've always been curious as to how Hollywood's treatment of it matched up to the book.

UPDATE DEUX: Okay, at least with respect to the question of gaff-rigged spankers (shut the hell up!), I may have been caught out. My copy of Six Frigates, evilly wished upon me by Steve-O, turned up this evening and I noticed such a rig on a photo of U.S.S. Constitution, surely a heavy frigate if ever there was one.

So at least with respect to rigging, I'm man enough to admit when my bloviating is proved to be so much swank. I'm still right about the comparative size of the ships, tho'.

Posted by Robert at November 6, 2006 03:02 PM | TrackBack

Robert Lindsay as Capt. Pellew was a good casting choice as well.

Posted by: charles at November 6, 2006 03:58 PM

Hear, hear on the casting of Robert Lindsay.

I read Forester's African Queen in the late 70s as part of a high school class on literature and film, where we read classic books and looked at the screen treatments thereof. (To Kill A Mockingbird was another of the books we read for class, as was 2001: A Space Odyssey.) As I recall, the film was pretty faithful to the book, though of course with two talents as huge as Bogart and Hepburn, there was bound to be some polishing of the dialogue.

Now: have you ever read Forester's Rifleman Dodd or The Gun? (I have them in a single volume, thanks to my Dad, who also left me his volumes of Hornblower.)

Posted by: Russ at November 6, 2006 08:12 PM

Robert, this is done with almost any book. It drives me crazy! Do they think we'll be bored if they, The Powers That Be, stay faithful to the book?

But sheesh, Hornblower too? You'd fit right in at the Groovy house...

Posted by: GroovyVic at November 7, 2006 06:53 AM