Thursday, July 1, 2004

Horatio Hornblower: The Movies

Taking the suggestion of my friend, Res Ipsa, I rented these from my local library. Made by A&E Network, starting with the first installment in 1999, these movies are well worth your time.

A brief synopsis:

The first movie, entitled The Duel, begins in 1793,with the Napoleonic Wars in full-swing, and Hornblower first joins the crew of H.M.S. Indefatigable ,as a 17- year-old midshipman. He quickly earns the admiration and respect of most of the crew and the ship's captain in engagements with the French and their Spanish allies. Unfortunately, he also earns the enmity of a fellow crewmember, who seethes with jealousy over Hornblower's rapid rise. This hatred returns to haunt him, throughout the picture.

The second, The Fire Ships, deals with life aboardship, unrest amongst the crew, threats of starvation from scarce rations, an outbreak of plague in which Hornblower proves his mettle, and ruthless attacks on the British by the French.

The Duchess and the Devil, the third film, involves Hornblower's attempts to outwit the Spanish, which ultimately fail. He and his crew fall into their hands and are imprisoned. I don't want to give away any more, but suffice it to say that the movie wraps up with great action sequences and a rescue during a storm.

One brief note of interest: These films are based on the 11 novels about Horatio Hornblower, written by C.S. Forrester, the first being published in 1937. To date, A&E has made 8 films, I believe, with more to follow.

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