Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

37 corrected entries

Corrected entry: Near the end of the film when the crew are playing cricket on the island the camera pans out to show the batsman in front of three stumps. However cricket didn't start to be played with three stumps until at least 50 years after the film is set. At the time of the movie time people only played with two.

xx:xx:xx

Correction: This entry is completely wrong. Three stumps had been in use for a long time and became official in 1775 and not more than fifty years after 1805 as stated.

Corrected entry: Aubrey's ship HMS Surprise spends a lot of its time with the guns run out. In reality, they would only be run out for battle, secured inboard since the ship could ship water through open gun-ports. Also, the captain would not be running around the ship, doing "hands on" stuff, like on the helm. He'd stand back and issue orders.

Correction: It is very doubtful that a sixth-rate of just 28 guns would have gun-port lids on most of the battery at all. RN frigates were built with open ports except for perhaps the two rearmost gun-ports which were in accommodation areas. The lids would be closed except in action when the interior partitions would be dismantled to "clear the decks" and let the guns be positioned there. At sea frigates would sail with their guns run out and secured, but not rigged for action, and with the muzzles stoppered to keep the water out of the barrels. Frigates could do this because their design allowed the main battery to be rather higher above the water than in larger ships, and thus shipping less water (relatively) through the open ports. A frigate really only looked like a frigate and this makes Aubrey's plan to disguise the Surprise as a whaler rather ridiculous, and gives the lie to the story's premise that the skipper of Acheron is a smart man...since all Surprise could hope to look like is a ship of war and he would not have been fooled for a moment.

Corrected entry: When the rowing boats are towing the ship into the fog, the ropes are not tight. They are actually very loose - so they can't be pulling much.

Jacob La Cour

Correction: Actually these loose ropes can only be seen in two scenes. In one scene, just one of the three boats is shown, so the other two could be a bit ahead of that one.In the second scene, the Surprise has reached the fog and the boat crews stop pulling like madmen, hence the loose rope. No mistake here.

Corrected entry: Bonden is the Coxswain, a petty officer. At one point, the captain addresses him as 'Mr' Bonden, a term of address reserved for warrant officers. In a similar vein, Higgins, the Surgeon's Mate, is listed on the cast as a warrant officer. Surgeon's Mates were petty officers.

Correction: This is incorrect. In 1805, Petty Officers didn't exist for about another 50 years and roles like the Bosun and Master-at-arms were Warrant officers. When Petty Officers were introduced some positions went down in rank (coxswain, Master-at-arms), while others eventually became commissioned ranks (Sailing master (Navigation officer), Surgeon, etc.).

Corrected entry: Upon arriving at the Galapagos Islands, Aubrey encounters the survivors of a British whaler who claim the French privateer captured their ship and seized their cargo of oil. This is hogwash. A privateer, by its very nature, has no room to transport bulk cargo like whale oil. They would be likely to load any ambergris from the whaler, but the premise that a privateer would make profits by seizing and burning whalers is specious at best.

Correction: The key point with this is that it is a British whaler. Any oil harvested on that whaler would be taken back to Britain. It would be quite logical that a French vessel, in the middle of a war with Britain, would want to burn any product bound for the country they were at war with, thus attacking the British vessel, and taking and burning the oil.

Corrected entry: If the scene in which Jack Aubrey gives the order "hard a larboard" was indeed a rudder order the face of the compass wouldn't have rotated clockwise. That would mean the ship was actually making a turn to the left. The compass shows a southerly course, rotates clockwise, and eases to show an easterly course. That's a 90 degree turn to port, is it not?

Correction: "Larboard" means "port", or left. It's a "rhyming" opposite to "starboard".

Corrected entry: In the scene where the Surprise is being re-fitted after the first encounter with the Acheron, Captain Aubrey tells Mr. Allen, "A week spent crawling through the Brazilian rain forest looking for a new mast won't do." He would not have used "rain forest" in 1805, the term "rain forest" was first coined in 1898 by a German botanist.

xx:xx:xx

Correction: See corrections of this kind for 'Troy', 'Pirates of the Carribean' and 'Braveheart'. The film uses contemporary English so modern audiences can understand the dialogue. This is a film convention, not a mistake.

Corrected entry: During Stephen's self-performed surgery, he asks Higgins for the catling. This instrument, a long, sharp, double-edged knife used for amputations, is not what a doctor would have used to make his initial incision and it is not what Higgins hands him in the subsequent shot.

xx:xx:xx

Correction: 1. They are at sea, so it is very likely that he does not have proper equipment.2. He is performing surgery on himself which would be a lot different than doing it on someone else.3. It is made very clear that Higgins is not a doctor.

Corrected entry: In the final DVD scene Jack and Stephen are playing their instruments. Jack is strumming his violin before picking up his bow. The sound of the strumming continues for several seconds after Jack stops and before he starts playing using the bow.

xx:xx:xx

Correction: Already listed and corrected.

Twotall

Corrected entry: It is highly unlikely that a French privateer would attack a British frigate, even with an advantage in size and armament. Privateers were in the profitable business of capturing enemy merchantmen, not in the dangerous one of fighting enemy warships. The Acheron would only fight the Surprise if forced to. I can't see why the screenwriters made the Acheron a privateer - making her a French warship would have been more realistic and would have detracted nothing from the story.

Correction: Just because you think something's unlikely, it doesn't necessarily make it a mistake. While privateers did generally go after merchant vessels, there are numerous recorded examples of them attacking riskier targets - Henry Morgan, for example, successfully attacked heavily fortified towns on at least two occasions during his career, which makes attacking a smaller outgunned warship seems relatively minor. Privateers also had to think about their reputation - a better 'legend' would lead to more prestigious and more profitable assignments, to say nothing of the bragging rights among their fellow captains. If a privateer saw the opportunity to take out an enemy warship in a sneak attack (thus lessening the risk considerably), it's more than plausible that they'd do so.

Tailkinker

Corrected entry: Surprise, disguised as a whaler, makes a quick tack (within a minute) so that both sides of the ship can fire broadsides into Acheron. In real life, a square-rigger such as Surprise would take a half-hour or more to turn around, with much effort on the part of the crew to maneuver the sails and spars.

Correction: Sailing ships, especially in the Royal Navy with their large crews, can tack and wear in a few minutes. I have sailed aboard the Rose, which was the life size sailing version of Surprise in the movie, and we could tack or wear easily in about five minutes with a much smaller crew than would have been available to Jack Aubrey.

Corrected entry: Dr. Maturin states that the lizards they see at the Galápagos are "vegetarians". This word wasn't introduced until 1847 by the first Vegetarian Society in Ramsgate, England.

Ronnie Bischof

Correction: As with almost all historical films, modern terms are being used to allow modern audiences to understand easily - the earlier term "Pythagorean" would have meant nothing to them. Standard movie convention, therefore this cannot really be considered a mistake.

Tailkinker

Corrected entry: When the Surprise is firing upon the Acheron in the last battle of the film, they completely destroy the main mast as shown in a wide shot of the Acheron's mast falling all the way off. However, when half of Jack's crew take the Acheron under Tom's command in the last 5 minutes of the film, the mast in miraculously back on. This is without them ever stopping to retrieve another mast or having enough time.

Correction: Quite a bit of time has gone by since the end of the battle and the parting of the 2 ships, they just did not show the work being done on the two ships to get them repaired. Both ships had a lot of damage to their sides, yet they are fixed before the funerals for the dead. So they may have had time to retrieve the mast and repair it enough to get the ship into port at Valparaso.

Corrected entry: During the boarding of the Acheron, Capt. Jack Aubrey is wielding two Flintlock Pistols (which can only hold one bullet each). But when the French come out of hiding, Jack fires from his Flintlocks three times in a row without reloading.

Correction: In a close action, pistols would not be reloaded but would be used once and dropped. Therefore, officers usually went in with pistols in each hand and one or two spares in their belt. Additionally, they would pick up pistols from fallen sailors and good shots would be handed them by others. It is unclear how many pistols Aubrey carries since he boards the ship with one, later holds two and later fires three.

Corrected entry: After the shot where Aubrey sees Hogg in the lifeboat, Hogg and the whalers climb up the starboard accommodation ladder. The starboard accommodation ladder was used for formal occasions; the larboard ladder when no ceremony was desired.

xx:xx:xx

Correction: Since these were obviously shipwrecked sailors, it's more than likely that Captain Aubrey (not to mention the crew of the Surprise) was not about to stand on ceremony in getting these weakened and dehydrated sailors onto the ship.

Corrected entry: A man in the cold Cape Horn waters would lose his senses in less than a minute; he wouldn't be able to swim vigorously.

xx:xx:xx

Correction: The length of time people can survive in cold water is an average estimate. That means some succumb quicker while others last longer. There are many reported cold water rescues where some victims survived long beyond all expectations.

Corrected entry: When Stephen is taking measurements of the tortoises, there's a close up of him measuring around one's neck. The tortoise if obviously dead.

Correction: Why is taking a measurement from a "Dead" tortise a mistake? Wouldn't it be easier to take measurements from one which is not moving?

Corrected entry: The lights on the Surprise are candle or oil lamps. These would flicker, in the movie they don't flicker at all. They're electric.

Correction: They are candle lamps. I have seen the lanterns used on this film being made and the finished product. They are not electric, they are high-quality reproductions that would only flicker if wind got to them but these have coverings.

Corrected entry: In the beginning shot it reads "HMS Surprise, 28 Guns..." On the ship, there are 12 Guns on each side of the gun deck, that equals 24. On the quarterdeck, there are 4 Carronades which is 28, the purposed number. But there are also 2 Bow chasers, which would equal in a 30 Gun ship. There are also 2 Swivels but those don't count.

Correction: At the time, the rating of a ship by the number of guns was purely nominal. It indicated the ship's approximate size and strength but a ship could and often did carry a few extra guns especially if the captain was wealthy and could afford to bring his own special cannons. In the Patrick O'Brian books Aubrey has a couple of brass long cannons which he moves from ship to ship and uses as chasers because he thinks they are more accurate.

Corrected entry: In the shot where Capt. Aubrey gives a navigational lesson, he refers to Mr. Williamson's sextant. Actually, it's an octant.

Correction: Actually, what the mids are holding are examples of a "Hadley's Quadrant", the half-step in navigational tool evolution between the octant and sextant. Aubrey had a sextant (in the final cut we don't see it) and would probably use 'sextant' as a generic term for intruments of this type.

Corrected entry: One of Aubrey's crew saw the Acheron, a French frigate, when it was under construction in Boston. This was carried over from the book in which the Surprise originally pursues an American frigate. The Americans did not build frigates for the French.

Correction: It is never insinuated that the ship was built FOR the French by the Americans. Ships changed owners and nationalities frequently. Wasn't Aubrey's first command a French-built ship?

Ioreth

Corrected entry: When Blakeney had boarded the Acheron and shoots his gun, for a very brief second we can see that there is a pause in the camera movement though the soundtrack goes on.

xx:xx:xx

Correction: That's your own DVD skipping as it changes chapters, not a movie mistake.

Corrected entry: After launching the decoy "vessel", Capt. Aubrey shouts, "Hard a-larboard", spins the steering wheel to the left, making the ship turn left. But in those days a ship's wheel worked in the opposite way: to turn the ship left you had to spin the wheel to the right, and the correct command would have been "Hard a-starboard."

Correction: The order "hard a-larboard" is correct, because if the order was given not to the wheel, but directly to the people below (at the rudder stick), it would be har a-starboard, but the order is given to Barret Bonden at the wheel. It is a rudder order, not at steering order.

Corrected entry: After the initial attack by the Acheron, Aubrey goes down below to see how deep the water is. The guy standing in the water says "2 ft, 6 in." This is a BRITISH ship in the early 1800s!

Correction: I don't see the mistake here. If the submitter is saying that some archaic unit would have been used, they should have specified it. If they are saying that metric units would have been used, they could not be more wrong. In the early 1800s, even the French still regularly used their customary units (the metric system wasn't fully adopted until the 1840s), and feet and inches are widely used in Britain to this day.

J I Cohen

Corrected entry: Stephen Maturin's cello has a end pin or spike which he rests on the floor while playing. Cellos of that date did not have such spikes, they were cradled between the legs of the player.

Correction: The cello may have an end pin on it, but the cello is never shown that low, so we have no idea if it's there or not. Also, Stephen is seen holding it between his legs at the last scene. Even when he lifts it to 'strum' it, you don't see the bottom of it.

Corrected entry: In the scene right at the beginning, when the midshipman who later commits suicide spots the strange French vessel on the horizon, the other midshipman present refers to him as the "officer of the watch". However, no one below the rank of lieutenant could be in this position.

Correction: Since the Surprise as a Post-ship was allowed 3 lieutenants, and as I recall there were only two in the film, Pullings and Mowett, he may have been given an order as an acting-lieutenant. That would give him the right to stand a watch by himself.

Corrected entry: The scene were Captain Jack explains the difference between a pirate vessel and a privateer was solely to educate modern audiences on the matter. It was a common practice at the time for a government at war to authorize private vessels to prey on ships of the enemy (so common that the constitution of the United States specifically authorizes the government to do so).

Correction: This scene was not just for the public. Readers of the books know that the doctor, even after many of years at sea, remains woefully ignorant of naval terms. This is demonstrated earlier in the film when Jack tries to explain the "weather gage" to Stephen.

Corrected entry: The title of the movie is "Master and Commander", describing Jack Aubrey. But Jack is not a master (technically speaking he isn't a commander either, but a post captain.) He would only be the 'master and commander' if he didn't have a sailing master on board, but he does have one on the Suprise in the movie- the man who gets shot through the forehead when boarding the Acheron, after saying that "the job is done".

Correction: The film is based on a series of books, one of which has that title. In technical naval terms, Jack may not be a master or commander, but he is commanding the ship and is complete master of it (in a non-nautical sense), so the title is not unreasonable.

Corrected entry: In the navigation scene, the midshipmen and Capt. Aubrey are facing the wrong direction: The ship is south of the equator, heading south. The sun should be north of them, but all are facing forward to "shoot the sun" with their sextants. Note they have to turn about, to see the Acheron pursuing them.

Correction: This is not necessarily true. During the southern summer the sun is well below the equator. As the Galapagos are almost on the equator you would see the sun in the south at noon. I have not noticed anyone mentioning a specific month in which this scene is set.

Corrected entry: Most of the views of the French privateer Acheron were computer generated imagery (CGI) from a digital model of USS Constitution. A Fox crew spent several days in Boston photographing and using laser measuring instruments to capture a complete and accurate version of "Old Ironsides."

Correction: I actually worked on the film, especially in regards to the sailing ships. The majority of the views of the ACHERON sailing are digitally composited images created using footage filmed of a 1/8 scale miniature created by WETA Workshop (the folks in NZ who did LOTR).There are only a couple shots which used the CGI ships for either ACHERON or SURPRISE. Most of the VFX shots relied on the miniatures.

Corrected entry: In the opening scene, the officer of the watch and Aubrey couldn't even spot the French ship with the telescope through the thick fog. But then, how was the French ship able to fire at Surprise with such accuracy? Their line of sight would be just as bad as the British.

Correction: The French ship is a 44, whereas SURPRISE is a 28. It is possible that her masts are higher, allowing lookouts in the tops to see the topmasts of the aproaching British frigate. Depends on how deep the fog bank is, but I've seen similar things at sea on more modern ships.

Corrected entry: After strumming his violin like a guitar, Russell Crowe briefly sets it down to pick up his bow. The violin is heard still playing.

Correction: This could be taken as an artistic decison by the director to continue the haunting music being played, as this occurs several times throughout the film

Corrected entry: The Captain and the surgeon play several duets together, with the Captain on the violin and the surgeon on the cello. However, if you listen closely to the songs they play, many of these sounds couldn't actually come from a duet. Most notably the first time they play, it sounds more like two violins and a cello, or even a string quartet are playing the song, when it's showing only the two men playing.

Correction: no mistake here, check the sound track if you must, but there are only two players of the music used for the many duets heard.

Corrected entry: It is a great idea to use the fake navigation lights. But no ship would even have them lighted during a chase in the first place.

Correction: This may seem an unlikely incident but Patrick O'Brian described this in the book "Master and Commander" and he took the incident directly from the autobiography of Lord Cochrane, the prototype of Jack Aubrey, who used just this ruse back in 1802 or so.

Corrected entry: Midshipman Lord Blakeney gets his right arm amputated. Two scenes after that you see his right arm back, holding a sextant.

Correction: Blakeney does not regrow his arm. Captain Aubrey is holding the sextant for him.

Corrected entry: When Aubrey gives the boy a book on Nelson, the boy asks about a certain battle and Aubrey tells him it is on a certain page. In 1805 and before, most books did not have page numbers, or those same numbers were incorrect. He's much more likely to have used the printer's signatures or just have flipped through the book to the correct page. I'm not saying he wouldn't have had a book with numbered pages (or those pages wouldn't have been correct), but Aubrey would likely have been in the habit of NOT using page numbers.

Kaite13

Correction: The poster's point is approximately a full century off. Up until the end of the seventeenth century, printed books were normally numbered by signatures (a combination of letters and numbers marking quires and the leaves within a quire) or foliation (numbered by leaves - recto and verso - rather than separate pages). During the eighteenth century, however, publishers switched to pagination, often in conjunction with signatures. There would have been nothing remotely unusual about a paginated book in 1805.

meburste

Corrected entry: I don't know whether this is an editing error or a projection error, but several times during the storm scene, mysterious patterns of colored lights (perhaps a camera graphic) briefly flash up on the screen for a frame or two.

Correction: This is most likely a new form of copy protection - I noticed it during Kill Bill as well. As far as I'm aware, the basic premise is that all prints have a pattern of red dots which appear for a couple of frames at certain points throughout the film. Each pattern of dots is unique to a print, so if a copy of a film ends up online, it's possible to identify precisely where the copy came from. Annoying, but not a movie-specific mistake.

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Quotes

Capt. Jack Aubrey: England is under threat of invasion, and though we be on the far side of the world, this ship is our home. This ship *is* England.

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Mistakes

The position of the needle and thread lying on Peter's body differ in the wide shot and following close-up.

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Trivia

When Captain Aubrey makes the toast 'To wives and sweethearts - may they never meet' he is following a custom in the Royal Navy called the toast of the day. There was a special toast for every day of the week. This one in particular was usually for Saturdays. There is a minor mistake, however: tradition dictated that the proposer (in this case, the captain) would say the first part 'to wives and sweethearts', to which the most junior officer present would reply 'may they never meet'. Here is the list that seems to be most commonly followed dates from before Trafalgar, courtesy of the Canadian Navy website: Monday - our ships at sea, Tuesday - our men, Wednesday - ourselves, because no one else is likely to both, Thursday - a bloody war or a sickly season (to ensure quicker promotion), Friday - a willing foe and sea room (The two preceding seem to be of historical interest only), Saturday - wives and sweethearts - may they never meet (reply is made by the youngest officer present) Sunday - absent friends.

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