I read a very silly piece in The Conversation about the wholesomeness of the old Russel Crowe slash-n-dash epic, Master and Commander. I’m not even going to bother quoting from it because I just re-read the whole thing and the silliness seemed even more profound the second time through.
And yet, it did cause me to go watch the movie all over again on the weekend, and damn if it isn’t a weirdly wholesome experience. Heaps of violence and body horror, but everyone in that story, even the villain, is trying to do their best.
Not everyone makes it, but everyone tries.
It’s set in the Napoleonic Wars but it’s only 20 years old so it shouldn’t feel closer in time to its subject matter than to the present day, yet it does. It feels like a cultural artefact from an age before the Great Derangement, which I’d date from 9/11, not 2016. Thanks to bin Laden were well on our way to the nuthouse long before the Orange God King came down the golden staircase. (Actually, there’s an argument to be made that the roots of Derangement lie much further back than that, in the insane transfer of wealth from the working and middle classes to the true elites, the one per cent of the one per cent. But I can’t be fucked making it).
Somewhere in The Conversation piece, Kiwi director Taika Waititi calls it ‘his comfort film as well as his favourite romance movie’, and I get the latter point, but I don’t think it is a romance or even a bromance. I think it’s just a pure buddy film. And comforting as all get out.
There’s a real temptation watching it to wish yourself there, even though it would have been an incredibly hard and dangerous life. Short too.