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MASTER AND COMMANDER

About The Production
In the course of the characters' epic journey, the movie travels the world – from the coast of Brazil to the storm-tossed waters of Cape Horn, south through ice and snow, to the far side of the world, to the remote shores of The Galapagos Islands (becoming the first feature film ever to film there).

MASTER AND COMMANDER is directed by Peter Weir from a screenplay by Weir & John Collee, based upon the novels by Patrick O'Brian. O'Brian's "Aubrey/Maturin" novels, so named after the lead characters, were declared by Richard Snow, in The New York Times to be "the best historical novels ever written." David Mamet, also writing in the Times, called O'Brian one of the greatest novelists writing in the English language over the past 30 years. As to O'Brian's creation, Captain Jack Aubrey, the Times later noted that Russell Crowe "seems born to play him."

The project originated over ten years ago when two legends – Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. and celebrated author Patrick O'Brian – had preliminary conversations about turning some of O'Brian's Aubrey / Maturin stories into a film. It was Goldwyn who first saw the cinematic potential of O'Brian's work, and he persuaded the author, who had not been to the movies in years, that the medium would well serve the adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin.

The film that resulted a decade later is based on the principal characters first introduced in O'Brian's book Master and Commander, but employs the broad narrative outline of the tenth of 20 Aubrey/Maturin novels, The Far Side of the World. Peter Weir believed the latter had a more direct, cinematic and adaptable story structure. (Our heroes are attacked by a superior foe who must be pursued; but how far and at what cost?)

Using the narrative outline from The Far Side of the World also allowed the movie to be concentrated almost completely at sea, a unique and original approach that Peter Weir understood as the key to capturing the spirit and detail of O'Brian's novels. The film uses every state-of-the-art motion picture technique and an obsessive attention to accuracy and detail to put the audience back in time – not, as so common now, forward to some science fiction world – and lets us experience an adventure aboard a ship in Nelson's Navy 200 years ago. From the splinter of wood in an attack to the heat of the doldrums, to rounding Cape Horn in a violent storm, MASTER AND COMMANDER puts the audience at sea as never before in film.

But for all that spectacle, it is the attention to characters and emotion that separate Patrick O'Brian and Peter Weir from other storytellers who have plied these waters.

Patrick O'Brian's 20-volume Aubrey / Maturin opus, which reflected a lifetime of research, was Weir's touchstone. The director never wavered from his commitment to capturing the detail and spirit of O'Brian's world and characters, and brings an unprecedented level of historical realism to the film.

"Patrick O'Brian's prose is magnificent," says Weir. "He's a writer of the first order. Of course, this was one of the most challenging aspects about adapting his work. When you adapt any book, the words fall out onto the table and you have to replace the prose with images. It has been a great challenge to tell this story visually in a way that does justice to O'Brian's words."

As Weir and Collee began writing the screenplay, they marked up O'Brian's books under the headings: "

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