In 2003 Russell Crowe was in the zone in a way few major stars ever have been. He was in the middle of a run of excellent films where he was excellent in the leading role. The movies were great, Crowe was great in them, and the accolades were following.
The Insider (1999) with Michael Mann, Gladiator (2000) with Ridley Scott, A Beautiful Mind (2001) with Ron Howard, and in the very next year Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) with Peter Weir.
'Master & Commander: The Far Side of The World'Credit: 20th Century Fox
The run kept going, but we'll stop there because someone took to Twitter to claim that Weir's naval epic was a perfect solution to pandemic induced insomnia. It was a relatively harmless hate tweet, the likes of which come in an unending stream on the platform every second of every day. The user did tag Crowe, and thus Crowe took the time to respond:
\u201cThat\u2019s the problem with kids these days.\nNo focus. \n\nPeter Weirs film is brilliant. An exacting, detail oriented, epic tale of fidelity to Empire & service, regardless of the cost. \nIncredible cinematography by Russell Boyd & a majestic soundtrack. \nDefinitely an adults movie.\u201d— Russell Crowe (@Russell Crowe) 1610861176
Let 'em know, Russ!
Thank God he did respond because Master and Commander is an absolute gem. It's fucking badass. It pays perfect homage to swashbucklers of yore while being more modern in its sensibility and filmmaking approach, it expands the canvas, it incorporates naval history, and it delivers on every level.
Shame on this random Twitter user!
Don't take my word for how great it is, I'm biased. (Editor's note: I had a Master and Commander poster hanging in my apartment in the mid-aughts.)
The film started trending pretty quickly as countless fans, famous and otherwise, rushed to its defense and chimed in about its greatness.
But there is a slight hint of tragedy laced in this momentary rediscovering of the should-be classic.
It should have been the launch of a franchise. The film is based on the first book in a 20 novel series by Patrick O'Brien covering the adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey (Crowe) and ship's surgeon Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) during the Napoleonic Wars.
WHERE ARE MY OTHER 19 MOVIES?!
Look, I'll never not be salty about this. Pun intended. Because you know what happened instead?
2003 launched another franchise that was certainly "on stranger tides." Pun also intended.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl, directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Johnny Depp, is fun, but unlike the Jack Aubrey series, it had almost nowhere else to go.
But it was a massive hit for Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer and launched a franchise that I think might still be going.
But whatever you think about the initial films, Pirates has a 16-minute theme ride to draw from. Master and Commander had 20 novels!
We were at a cinematic inflection point. There were two ships launched to sea that day, lads and lasses, but Poseidon would see to it that one ship's voyage was far shorter. And we're all the worse for it.
The timing of all this is also unique as teens have recently taken to TikTok layering sea shanties. Pay attention, studios!
Master and Commander was there before it was cool.
Just in that clip alone, you can appreciate the craft at work from Weir in the film. The visuals. The camera moves. The audio. The movie is a tour-de-force.
Sadly the rest of the Jack Aubrey cinematic series lies in Davy Jones' locker. Unless this recent Twitter event can turn the tide... do Crowe and Bettany still have their sea legs?
Have you seen this seafaring classic? Let us know in the comments.