Bounty, The (Blu-ray) (1984)

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Released 5-Dec-2018

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Crew Roger Donaldson, Bernard Williams, John Graysmark
Audio Commentary-Historian Stephen Walters
Featurette-Original “Making of The Bounty” documentary (52:37)
Featurette-The Bounty on Film (12:26)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 132:49 (Case: 130)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Roger Donaldson

Starring Mel Gibson
Anthony Hopkins
Laurence Olivier
Edward Fox
Daniel Day-Lewis
Liam Neeson
Bernard Hill
Tevaite Vernette
Wi Kuki Kaa
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Vangelis

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     The events that led up to the mutiny on the Bounty that occurred in the Pacific near Tahiti in April 1789 are not really in dispute, although the cause of the mutiny certainly is. The Bounty juxtaposes the events of the mutiny with the trial of Lieutenant William Bligh (Anthony Hopkins) before the Admiralty Court, chaired by Admiral Hood (Laurence Olivier) and with Captain Greetham (Edward Fox), for the loss of his ship.

     In December 1787 the Bounty sailed from England under the command of Bligh with Sailing Master Fryer (Daniel Day-Lewis) as 1st officer and Bligh’s friend Fletcher Christian (Mel Gibson) also on board. Their mission was to sail to Tahiti to pick up a cargo of Breadfruit trees which were then to be transported to the West Indies and planted to feed the slave population on the plantations. Bligh attempted to sail around Cape Horn, the shortest way to Tahiti, but failed, being buffeted by storms for 31 days; he was unhappy with the performance of Fryer and replaced him with Christian before turning back and sailing the longer route to Tahiti around Africa.

     Their reception in Tahiti by the natives and King Tynah (Wi Kuki Kaa) was welcoming, to say the least. Bligh had originally intended to remain in Tahiti for only two months but their late arrival required the Bounty to stay for 5 months while the Breadfruit trees grew big enough to be transported. During this extended stay in paradise discipline broke down; the sailors took up with the local women, including Christian who impregnated the King’s daughter Mauatua (Tevaite Vernette), while others deserted, including the troublemaker Churchill (Liam Neeson). The deserters where captured and flogged and when the Bounty finally left Tahiti it was not with a happy crew. By this time Christian had fallen out with Bligh and led the mutiny; Bligh and some loyal crew members, including Fryer and Bosun Cole (Bernard Hill) were set adrift in an open boat. The Bounty returned to Tahiti, but they were not welcomed by King Tynah so sailed away, taking some Tahitian men and women with then, finally arriving on Pitcairn Island where the Bounty was burned. Bligh, with amazing seamanship, managed to navigate the open boat to Timor after a voyage of 40 days.

     The Bounty is directed by Australian Roger Donaldson who went on to direct Hopkins much later in The World’s Fastest Indian (2005) and also had a bit of a cult hit with Species (1995) but perhaps his hand here was not as sure as it would later become. At one time David Lean was attached to direct The Bounty which would have been interesting. The Bounty was intended to be a prestige production and it shows in a meticulous attention to detail, including England of the period, the island or the accurate replica of the original Bounty which was constructed for the production (albeit with a steel inner hull and engines), while the cast is to die for, an amazing combination of esteemed actors Laurence Olivier and Edward Fox with up and comers in early roles Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson and Bernard Hill, although the film is carried by Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson.

     Technically, The Bounty looks and sounds wonderful. Filmed by cinematographer Arthur Ibbetson (Oscar nominated for Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)) on location in French Polynesia, the island settings are beautiful. With the full size replica of the Bounty there are stunning images of a ship under full sail against the islands, blue skies, ominous clouds or sunsets accompanied by the music of Vangelis, Oscar winner for Chariots of Fire (1981) and the wonderful Blade Runner (1982); his scores are quite distinctive and this one could not be by anyone else. There are also some impressive set pieces in the film including the storm at Cape Horn, the welcome to Tahiti, with a myriad of canoes with scantily clad women, and the fertility dance on the island which was responsible for undermining the discipline of the Bounty’s crew, not to mention her first officer!

     If the events are not really in question, the causes of the mutiny are another matter. Previous films The Mutiny on the Bounty in 1935 and 1962 portrayed the sadistic, brutal and tyrannical behaviour of Bligh in memorable performances by Charles Laughton and Trevor Howard, Fletcher Christian ( Clark Gable, Marlin Brando) on the other hand having a better press. The Bounty, based on the book by Richard Hough Captain Bligh and Mr Christian and Bligh’s papers with a screenplay by dual Oscar winner Robert Bolt tells a rather different story, one that is apparently more true to the facts. Bolt wrote Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and won Oscars for Doctor Zhivago (1965) and A Man for All Seasons (1966) and his screenplay is both literate and even handed. This Bligh is certainly a man with a temper and a man who can be petty but he is no sadist, instead he is a man who cares about the welfare of his crew and who, in fact, resorted to flogging offenders, a favourite punishment in the Royal Navy, far less than many captains of the period.

     However, in resurrecting the character of Bligh, (he was, as the film shows, exonerated by the Admiralty Court), the character of Christian comes into a different focus. Mel Gibson believed that the script did not go far enough in making him the “bad guy” responsible for the mutiny, and indeed with a handsome and charismatic actor like the young Gibson in the role it was probably difficult to make him too unhinged. In the end, the film tends to put the responsibility onto the paradise that was Tahiti and its beautiful, unclad and free spirited women. They may have a point; to sailors from the cold and wet slums of England 5 months in paradise was just too much temptation. But in taking away the direct conflict between good and evil of the earlier films the dramatic impetus of the film is lessened; sometimes the facts may get in the way of a good story.

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Transfer Quality


     The Bounty is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Detail is sharp whether of widescreen images of the ship anchored in the island bay or in full sail at sea or the close-ups of Tevaite Vernette’s silky black hair or Mel Gibson’s bronzed torso. The colours are deep and vibrant; the blue sea and sky, the green of the islands, the brown timbers of the interior of the Bounty, the red sunsets. Blacks and shadow detail are impressive, contrast and brightness consistent, skin tones natural.

     There were occasional tiny marks and a hair at 5:13-19 but otherwise artefacts were absent.

     No subtitles are provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The film audio is English DTS-HD MA 5.1.

     Dialogue is clean and easy to understand. During the set piece sequences, such as the storm or the dance, the rears and surrounds are active with the boom and crash of the waves, the drums and voices; elsewhere there is thunder, the wind in the trees or the creak of the ship’s timbers and rigging. The subwoofer supported the waves and thunder, drum rhythms and voices. The score by Vangelis was effective and added to the visuals.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Audio Commentary

     A chatty and humorous commentary by director Roger Donaldson, producer Bernard Williams and production designer John Graysmark providing information and anecdotes about the shoot. They talk, among other things, about the evolution of the film and wanting to shoot two films, how they got involved, the locations, the sets, the building of the replica Bounty, issues with the ship, the cast, difficulties on the shoot including the destruction of the Tahiti sets in a hurricane, bringing in plastic flowers and trees to replace those destroyed, the storm sequence, filming on Tahiti, the food on set, their intention to get history right, the music.

Audio Commentary

     Marine historian and historical consultant for the film Stephen Walters provides a good commentary that merges facts about the production with history. He talks about the locations, the cast, conditions in the Royal Navy at the time, where poetic and dramatic licence was taken in the film, deliberate errors of history made in the film, the characters of Blight and Christian and efforts by Christian’s brother Edward to exonerate Christian.

Original “Making of The Bounty” documentary (52:37)

     Made in 1984 and narrated by Edward Fox, this is a full-on documentary entitled The Making of a Mutiny: The Bounty which covers the historical background of the mutiny, the myths and legends that have evolved since about the character and reputations of those involved and the making of The Bounty. With comments from historian Stephen Walters, producer Bernard Williams, director Roger Donaldson, cast Anthony Hopkins, Mel Gibson and Bernard Hill, Bounty captain Cmdr. Joseph McGuire plus on-set and film footage, as well as the history things covered include the construction of the replica of the Bounty, trying to be historically accurate, the filming of key sequences including the storm at Cape Horn, the arrival in Tahiti, the dance banquet and the mutiny itself, filming on Tahiti, the destruction of sets in a hurricane and the aftermath of the mutiny. This remains an excellent documentary.

The Bounty on Film (12:26)

     Made in 2002 and written and narrated by historian Stephen Walters, this is a summary of the story treatments of the Bounty mutiny from the musical play in London in 1790 through various film adaptations from the 1916 Australian film to this 1984 film utilising lobby cards and promotional posters, black and white pictures, stills and film trailers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region free US UK Blu-ray of The Bounty includes the two commentaries we have, plus an isolated music track and a trailer, but misses out on both the featurettes. I cannot see a Region B UK version listed on The isolated music track would be worthwhile, but my vote would go to the two good featurettes.


     The Bounty is a beautiful film, showing in its sets, costumes and the full size replica of the Bounty a meticulous attention to detail. The film aims to be a more accurate depiction of the events that occurred in the Pacific in 1789 and is well meaning, and well-acted, although in attempting to be even handed in setting the record straight in favour of Lieutenant William Bligh without painting Christian as the self-serving antagonist the drama loses its intensity. In addition, the events after the mutiny tend to drag on. However, with beautiful visuals, music by Vangelis and a cast of including Anthony Hopkins, Mel Gibson, Laurence Olivier, Edward Fox, Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson and Bernard Hill the film is always good viewing.

     The video is stunning, the audio very good. The extras are very good, resulting in an excellent Blu-ray package that easily betters the previous DVD release.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, January 03, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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