Print Friendly and PDF

From GQ:

Why Are So Many Guys Obsessed With Master and Commander?

20 years after its release, the mildly successful historical nautical drama has become an inescapable hit with a certain type of movie fan.


March 8, 2023

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a cult movie for the kind of middle-aged 3-digit IQ guys with demanding jobs who are usually too busy to have a cult movie. As I wrote in 2003:

“Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” tries to lure literate middle-aged men back to the movie theatre by delivering an action blockbuster of rare intelligence and authenticity. Esteemed Australian director Peter Weir spent a whopping $150 million crafting a splendid film out of the late Patrick O’Brian’s cult novels about the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.

… Indeed, O’Brian’s novels appeal primarily to men who are little too old for science fiction and fantasy, whose interests have matured from the future to the past, from the imaginary to the intensely real.

While O’Brian’s admirers, such as George Will and David Mamet, are extremely articulate, they are a small elite compared to the legions who read “The Lord of the Rings” or “Harry Potter.” …

Weir preserved much of that uncompromising archaism in his film’s sometimes unfathomable dialogue. Fortunately, the director of “Gallipoli” and “Witness” is expert at showing while telling, so I never lost the thread for long. Still, “Master and Commander” requires more mental effort than is common in films with a “Pearl Harbor”-sized budget.

It would be heartening if this movie proved hugely profitable, but I’m not counting on it. Its demographic appeal seems quite narrow.


Indeed, while it did okay at the box office, sea movies, at least before CGI, cost a fortune and so it didn’t launch a franchise.

[Comment at Unz.com]

Print Friendly and PDF