As well crafted as the tall ships that once sailed the high seas, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a breathtaking, stirring film, as thoughtful as it is adventurous.

Set during the Napoleonic Wars, Master and Commander is the first screen adaptation of Patrick O'Brian's riveting, 20-volume "Aubrey/Maturin" series of historical seafaring novels. Based on the first and tenth books of the series, this visually stunning film captures the adventure of the high seas while reminding us that the story is ultimately about its characters, not just its ships.

Russell Crowe stars as Captain Jack "Lucky" Aubrey, commander of the HMS Surprise, a British frigate. As the film opens in 1805, we find the Surprise off the coast of Brazil. Its orders are clear: Sink, burn, or capture the Acheron, a French warship with significantly greater man—and firepower than the faithful but aging Surprise.

Master and Commander

Master and Commander

A sneak attack initiates a chase that will take the two ships on a high-stakes journey across the seas, through the storm-tossed waters of Cape Horn, southward through ice and snow, and eventually to the untamed Galapagos Islands for a final showdown.

Along the way, Aubrey must face the tension between his personal desires and the best interests of the men on his ship. This tension plays out in his relationship with his long-time friend and ship's surgeon, Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany). As the thoughtful scientist, Bettany balances Aubrey's intensity with his subdued wisdom, much as his cello playing provides a sonorous undertone for Aubrey's melodious violin.

But from the outset, it's obvious that Aubrey is the central character in the film, and Crowe gives a commanding performance as the ship's Captain. A lifelong seaman who began ...

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Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
Our Rating
4 Stars - Excellent
Average Rating
(3 user ratings)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for intense battle sequences, related images and brief language)
Directed By
Peter Weir
Run Time
2 hours 18 minutes
Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, James D'Arcy, Edward Woodall
Theatre Release
November 14, 2003 by 20th Century Fox
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