Mutiny on the Bounty

  • Review Date: April 3, 2013
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1962
  • Running Time: 178 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Brando's brilliant if lengthy version of classic story.
  • Review Date: April 3, 2013
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1962
  • Running Time: 178 minutes

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

While certainly a classic film, there isn't much in the way of positive messages.

Positive role models

As portrayed by Marlon Brando, Fletcher Christian is a conflicted and ambivalent hero who sees all-too-well the consequences and ramifications of his actions.

Violence

A sailor is whipped 24 times for insubordination. When his punishment is finished, his back is covered in whip marks and blood. A man is crushed by a giant barrel filled with water. A sailor suffering from a fever falls to his death. A sailor is "keel-hauled" for attacking Captain Bligh; the sailor is tied up with rope and tossed overboard, where he is eaten by sharks.

Sex

Some sexual innuendo when the sailors meet the Tahitian natives. Scantily clad island women greet the sailors upon their arrival in Tahiti. When it is learned that Tahitian cultural tradition dictates that it is rude to turn down sex, Fletcher Christian is ordered by Captain Bligh to make love to the island king's daughter, who is attracted to him.

Language

"Hell." "Damn." Captain Bligh refers to a Tahitian woman as a "slut," when one of the sailors on the Bounty approaches him about wanting to marry her.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Sailors smoke from pipes and drink wine and rum.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty, where Marlon Brando portrays Fletcher Christian, the reluctant and ambivalent leader of the mutineers. There are some violent scenes -- sailors are flogged, chained, and keel-hauled. There is also some tame sexual innuendo as the sailors learn of the Tahitian island women's attitudes towards lovemaking. At nearly three hours, the length might stretch the patience and attention spans of younger viewers, but then again, this is a glorious version of this immortal story with actors at the peak of their craft, and the excitement and drama in each scene only lets up during the intermission.

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Kids say

What's the story?

The HMS Bounty has been sent to set sail from England to Tahiti, where her sailors will collect breadfruit to be taken to Jamaica, where the East India Tea Company will cultivate the breadfruit to feed their slaves. The Bounty's captain is William Bligh (Trevor Howard), who soon reveals himself to be a merciless tyrant. His first lieutenant, Fletcher Christian (Marlon Brando), tries to maintain a stoic sense of duty to ship and country, but finds this to be increasingly difficult as Bligh inflicts cruelty after cruelty on his crew. After five relatively relaxing months in Tahiti waiting for the breadfruit to be in its growing season, the Bounty disembarks for Jamaica. Bligh inflicts additional cruelties; when he learns the breadfruit need more water than normal to survive the trip, he rations the sailors' water supply to almost nothing. Driven to near madness, exhaustion, and death, Christian eventually sees no alternative but to lead a mutiny against Captain Bligh, and as leader of the mutinied ship, Christian learns that, no matter how justified the insurrection, he and his men are now without a country, and no safe port.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

As portrayed by Marlon Brando, Fletcher Christian is a doomed figure, a reluctant and ambivalent man pushed to mutiny after all potentially saner and safer options have been exhausted through the tyranny of Captain Bligh. As portrayed by Trevor Howard, Captain William Bligh is a leader blind to everything but the mission for which they have set sail, a leader who believes his rank protects him from the harsh treatment and suffering he inflicts on his sailors. Together and separate, the magic these two master actors bring to this version of MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY is a truly memorable experience to behold.

While not the most historically accurate rendering of this legendary story, and in spite of some rather dated, almost stereotypical portrayals of Tahitian islanders (though certainly sympathetic, especially for the time the film was made), the deeper story, and the deep internal conflict Brando brings to the role of Christian, carry the day. It's nearly three hours long, but except for the intermission, the action and tension do not let up. An unforgettable story, brought to life by unforgettable actors.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about cinematic interpretations. What do you think are the challenges in making a movie based on a historical event that has also become the stuff of legend?

  • How accurately do you think the film portrays the cultural differences between the sailors and the Tahitian islanders?

  • In terms of historical accuracy, this film is seen as being inaccurate in crucial moments. Why do you think some artists sacrifice accuracy for moments that might heighten the drama and the story?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 8, 1962
DVD release date:November 14, 2006
Cast:Marlon Brando, Richard Harris, Trevor Howard
Director:Lewis Milestone
Studio:Warner Home Video
Genre:Classic
Topics:History
Run time:178 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Mutiny on the Bounty was written by

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  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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