review for The Bounty on AllMovie

The Bounty (1984)
by Michael Costello review

Roger Donaldson's remake of the much-filmed tale of mutiny reduced the story's normal melodrama quotient, making for a thoughtful, if less powerful film. Based on a true story, the film follows the well-known events of the mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty during its voyage to Tahiti in the 18th century. In some respects the most well-made version of the story, Robert Bolt's script has chosen to humanize the character of Bligh (Anthony Hopkins), emphasizing his friendship with Fletcher Christian (Mel Gibson). When the crew finally revolts, it's less due to the captain's tyranny than to their revulsion toward shipboard life after having tasted the paradisiacal pleasures of the isle of Tahiti. Indeed, the question of whether the more civilized or the more primitive world is worth inhabiting is one that seems to interest the filmmakers the most. However, the impressive performance of Anthony Hopkins, who overshadows Gibson at this early stage in his career, could be read as their final comment on the matter. The excellent cast includes Liam Neeson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Laurence Olivier, and Edward Fox. Composer Vangelis employs a synthesizer to play his score, an instrument rarely heard during the 18th century, one whose absence would have been desirable here.