Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

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

Master And Commander: The Far Side of the World is a 2003 historical fiction movie directed by Australian director Peter Weir and starring Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Billy Boyd, James D'Arcy, Chris Larkin and Edward Woodall. It is based on the Aubrey-Maturin series of novels by English author Patrick O'Brian: while it takes the name of the first novel, it incorporates elements from 13 of the 20 books in the series.

Set in 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars, the movie tells the tale of the HMS Surprise and her crew, under captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe). Sent to hunt French shipping, they soon happen upon an advanced French frigate, the Acheron, which totally outclasses the much smaller Surprise. With the French privateer warship endangering British whaling vessels, the crew of HMS Surprise must find some way to defeat her.

The story is a heavily fictionalised version of several real historical tales: Jack Aubrey is loosely based on exploits of the "Sea Wolf," Captain (later Admiral) Thomas Cochrane, while the CGI Acheron is created from digital scans of the USS Constitution, which she is also based on in terms of technology. Indeed, in an early draft of the script the movie was set in 1813 and the French Acheron was instead an American ship called USS Norfolk, but it was thought this would not go down well with US audiences. The HMS Surprise, which in reality started out life as a French corvette named Unité and ended up classified as a 28-gun sixth-rate frigate despite having 36 guns, is actually a modified 1970 replica of the HMS Rose, a 20-gun sixth-rate frigate built in 1757. The ship is now owned by the Maritime Museum of San Diego, and also appeared as the HMS Providence in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

The following weapons were used in the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World:


Tower Sea Service Pistol

The Tower Sea Service Flintlock Pistol is used by numerous characters in the movie including Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe), Dr. Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) and Barrett Bonden (Billy Boyd).

Tower Sea Service Pistol used by the Royal Navy.
A production image of Russell Crowe as Capt. Jack Aubrey with two flintlock pistols.
Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) boards the Acheron armed with two Tower Sea Service Flintlocks.
Aubrey with the pistol.
Aubrey fires his pistol.

Brown Bess Flintlock Musket

The Brown Bess Sea Pattern Flintlock Musket is the standard sidearm for the British Marines throughout the movie. While the Surprise is becalmed, Captain Howard (Chris Larkin) tries to shoot an albatross for supper, and inadvertently wounds Dr. Maturin (Paul Bettany).

Marines to either side of Captain Howard (Chris Larkin) aim their muskets.

Charleville 1777 Musket

Charleville Musket Model 1777s are seen in the hands of the French Naval sailors of the Acheron during the final battle.

Charleville Musket, 69 caliber
Mast 08.jpg
Mast 15.jpg

Nock Gun

The 7-barreled Nock Gun is used by Aubrey's men during the siege of the Acheron. The combination of seven smooth bore barrels unevenly placed in a "honey-comb" formation made the rifle extremely inaccurate (which led to it quickly switching from a marksman's rifle to a volley gun) and the immense recoil of the seven barrels all firing at once was unpleasant. On top of that, the rifle was rather heavy and took far too long to reload and was thus never popular in combat use.

Nock Gun - .52 Caliber.
The 7-barreled Nock Gun is used by Aubrey's men during the siege of the Acheron.

Fuse Grenade

A type of fuse grenade used by Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) and his crew during their assault on the French ship Acheron.

1700 Hand Grenade
A fuse grenade used by Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe).
Master and Commander grenade 1.jpg

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