Peter Weir’s 2003 masterpiece, “Master and Commander,” is a film about manhood, fatherhood, service, and sacrifice. Adapted from three novels in Patrick O’Brian’s epic Aubrey-Maturin series and starring Russell Crowe, the film is set at sea during the Napoleonic Wars and tells the story of British Captain Jack Aubrey’s mission to find and sink a French privateer that’s been harassing the British whaling fleet off the coast of Brazil.
In other words, it’s not a comic-book film for woke zoomers and millennials trapped in adolescence. It’s a film for adults who want to see a nuanced portrayal of masculine virtue set amid breathtaking cinematography and awesome naval battle scenes.
Crowe himself explained as much over the weekend when someone on Twitter snarked that “Master and Commander” was so boring it might help as a sleep aid during the pandemic. “I’ve never made it past the ten minute mark,” wrote Ian McNabb, to which Crowe replied, “That’s the problem with kids these days. No focus.”
“Peter Weirs film is brilliant. An exacting, detail oriented, epic tale of fidelity to Empire & service, regardless of the cost. Incredible cinematography by Russell Boyd & a majestic soundtrack. Definitely an adults movie.”
That’s the problem with kids these days.
Peter Weirs film is brilliant. An exacting, detail oriented, epic tale of fidelity to Empire & service, regardless of the cost.
Incredible cinematography by Russell Boyd & a majestic soundtrack.
Definitely an adults movie. https://t.co/22yjNtQRbg
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) January 17, 2021
Crowe’s critique of the Twitter troll McNabb strikes at the heart of why a film like “Master and Commander” might seem boring to young people in today’s culture, especially young men.
Yes, the film is a slow burn — essentially a drawn-out chase scene as Aubrey’s ship first eludes and then hunts the French privateer. But as the tension slowly mounts, the virtues of a bygone era are made manifest, not just in the friendship between Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin, the ship’s surgeon, but also in the paternal relationship Aubrey has toward his officers and crew.
In a time when close male friendship and fatherhood are increasingly rare for young men, “Master and Commander” is an even more important film to watch and contemplate, and then watch again. If you can’t get through the first 10 minutes because you’re “bored,” I assure you the problem isn’t with the film, it’s with you. Grow up.