土曜日, 11月 15, 2003

Master and Commander

I just got back from a packed showing of Peter Weir's Master and Commander. Let me just say it now:

I can't believe they spent $130 million to make this movie.

This is a beautifully crafted, beautifully acted film. It's an epic in the Doctor Zhivago sense, with sweeping landscapes, a long, occasionally episodic story arc, and a perfect cast. It's not a Russell Crowe movie--because the star of Master and Commander is the 19th century British navy. Unlike The Last Samurai, there were no places where you wanted to roll your eyes and say "Oh come on." It's not entertainment--it's an experience.

And that said, I'm prepared to bet that half the audience members were bored out of their minds.

Like many of them, I went in the theater expecting Gladiator on the great sailing ships. After all, the trailers promised non-stop action. The first sign that I was wrong was the movie score: it doesn't exist. We don't get Hans Zimmer's standard "combat scene music" to rouse our excitement--instead, director Weir lets the creaking of a wood, the groaning of the rigging speak for themselves. Throughout the film, Weir makes similar choices-- Master and Commander doesn't feel like a movie.

For one thing: what movie would cut away from the suspenseful pursuit of an elusive enemy to show us 19th century British humor, the swimming iguanas of the Galapagos, and two best friends playing music into the night?

I want to ask: which Hollywood executive lost his mind and greenlighted this film? I want to grab him by the shoulders and shake him. "What in the world makes you think that this movie will make money?" And then I want to shake his hand and thank him being gloriously unpractical.