HMS Bounty


“Mutiny on the Bounty” – the 1962 American historical drama film starring Marlon Brando – and “The Bounty” – the 1984 British film starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins – are two films dealing with the story of a sailing ship crew that is fed up with their captain’s harsh discipline and decides to take action.

The Royal Navy vessel HMS Bounty leaves England in 1787 on a mission to collect and transport breadfruit plants from Tahiti to the West Indies, as a cheap source of food for the plantation slaves located there The name of this plant derives from the fact that its fruit — the size of a man’s head — is edible and has both taste and texture like bread.

While the crew is on the island, the hard ship discipline becomes problematic; many of the sailors develop a taste for the easy pleasures offered by that island life, and for the free-love philosophies of the Tahitian women.

When the ship leaves Tahiti, Commanding Lieutenant Bligh becomes a sort of tyrant not willing to tolerate any disobedience whatsoever, and so he creates an atmosphere of tension and violence.

Therefore the crew succeeds in persuading second-in-command Lieutenant Fletcher Christian to take control of the ship and force Bligh and those considered loyal to him into a ship’s boat, minimally supplied, and cast adrift. Bligh however manages to get back to Britain.

The mutineers sail back to Tahiti to collect their wives, girlfriends and native friends and search for a safe haven. The journey is long but they eventually find Pitcairn Island, a place which is not marked on British maps of the region.

* * *

In reality, after Bligh reached Great Britain, the Admiralty sent HMS Pandora to catch the mutineers. Some were captured in Tahiti and imprisoned on board Pandora, which then searched without success for the rest of the crew who had hidden on Pitcairn Island.

Christian’s group remained undiscovered on Pitcairn until 1808, but only one mutineer had survived . All the others had killed each other in several conflicts.

However, the generally accepted view of Bligh as an arrogant monster and Christian as a tragic victim of circumstances, has now been modified into a more sympathetic picture of Bligh, and a more critical one of Christian


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