Asta 2

Horatio Hornblower Part the Second

It was difficult for a variety of reasons, but I managed to complete watching the Horatio Hornblower films I taped.

As much as I love Jamie, I just can’t get into these films. The subject matter is still of little interest to me and though I know situations and actions are historically accurate, it just frustrates me too damn much to sit through them. (I’m sorry, but it’s hard to put aside my modern perspective and see how slaves fighting for their freedom is a problem.)

Perhaps infuriates me is a better term because even though I knew what they feared (trial and death for mutineering) would likely come to pass because of the fracked up military dictates of the time, the captain was obviously nuts and needed to go. I can get depressed, angry, or critical when something I watch takes a turn I don’t like or makes me uncomfortable, yet most of the time I’m still finding myself entertained. But, with these films, it was an overwhelming feeling of discomfort and frustration to the point I was no longer entertained and fast forwarding over scenes.

And, frankly, I like my heroes to screw up on occasion. It’s why I sympathized with Fox Mulder. It’s why John Chrichton fascinated me. And it’s why I choose to believe Lee Adama broke his parole rather than plotting while not on duty. So, Horatio Hornblower, who in the three films I saw always seemed to have the right answer and save the day, bored me. Maybe if we knew he really did push the Captain I’d actually take an interest in him. Which, brings up my question, do we know who or if in fact anyone did push him? I just assumed he tripped and fell backwards. Though, the editing provided an opening for Archie to do it and we had fingers pointing at Horatio and him being very vague in his responses.

What did I like about these two films. I enjoyed the grayness of the supporting characters. Buckland was grossly unprepared for the job of captain, but I empathized with his plight and was sad when he realized that he was lucky to have made it to first lieutenant. But, then in order to try to salvage what’s left of his reputation, he offers up Horatio to the noose and I suddenly hated the man. Moments later my disgusted feelings for Hobbes evaporated. He was steadfast in his loyalty to the captain and perceived himself doing his duty throughout. And while he did do some questionable things, I don’t recall him outright doing anything dishonest. Did Willard not confess who ’pushed’ the captain and Hobbes could not bring himself to lie? Did he put his personal feelings aside and was unable to let a man’s reputation be unjustly tarnished? Could he not allow a weak, incompetent, back-stabbing man walk away from this while another faced death?

Lt Bush was a character I feared was going to be another buy the book officer when he first arrived on the ship, but soon proved he was more concerned about the welfare of the ship and men then blindly following the command structure. He even had no reservations or issues when Horatio would essentially take charge. I have to say I enjoyed Paul McGann’s performance almost as much as Jamie’s.

Speaking of Jamie, what can I say other than I thought he was fabulous in the role. The guy really knows how to sell a death scene. Not to mention a one liner. I burst out laughing when Bush announces he wants to make a stand with the twenty men they have. Suddenly, one guy in back is taken out by a bullet and Archie replies with “Not quite”. J

And on a shallow note, there was a scene where Jamie is standing outside the fort and the way the light hits him I never realized what amazing eyes he has. I guess shooting only interiors for BSG and with the artificial lighting I wasn’t able to properly appreciate them before.

Well, tonight is Poirot. Given my non-BSG Bamber viewing track record he’s bound to either be the killer or the victim. :p
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I can understand your reservations about the movies; it was difficult as an American to think of the British as the good guys then, especially since it was pretty close to the War of 1812 :) And after watching all of them again, I felt that Mutiny and Retribution were the better films for the reasons you mentioned, the grayness of the supporting characters. I do think that Horatio isn't perfect all the time - he has a little too much pride at times (such as when he was embarrassed when the cannon exploded due to his miscalculations), and if he always acts perfect it's because he feels he needs to. The character in the book is dogged by self doubt throughout his career, and wears a mask of confidence to hide it, and I wish they had put a little more of that into the films, it would have made him more interesting. That said, I gave up on the books because Horatio was the only well drawn character - Forrester didn't care about the others unless they were important to Horatio, such as Lt. Bush. I agree, Paul McGann was excellent and his portrayal was faithful to the books. Another reason I didn't like the books - no Archie, at least how he's portrayed in the movies.

And you're right, seeing these again reminded me of Jamie's beautiful blue eyes :) He was excellent in these films especially, since the character had overcome his earlier problems and had become a daring and resourceful officer. His devotion to Horatio stayed the same throughout, and while Horatio is less effusive, the feeling was mutual.

As to whether Horatio pushed Sawyer - it's never really said plainly, but at the end of the film Sir Edward Pellew says that Kennedy took a calculated risk in pushing the captain, and that he felt it was the right decision, and I think it was his way of absolving Horatio - he obviously thinks Horatio did it. The book on which this is based is narrated by Bush, and this was his assessment as well, so it seems they put his words in Sir Edward's mouth.
I would have enjoyed seeing more of Horatio's self-doubt being conveyed. As portrayed in the films, he seemed very confident most of the time, at least in these later films.

My gut feeling is still that the captain fell of his own accord. Horatio was so hesitant to go forth with the mutiny and suffer the potential consequences of that, I find it hard to believe he would have gone with attempted murder as an option. (Not to mention I didn't feel as if Archie was protecting him or carrying some deep dark secret). We do see his shadow looming over the captain (I could tell by the outline of the hair ;) and in his delusional, paranoid state I could see him wanting to point blame at Horatio.

If in fact he did do it, I'm rather pissed that he allowed Archie to take the fall. Yeah he was dying, but it wasn't a very honorable thing to do for a man that seemd to hold honor in such high regard.
The first film, The Duel, does show a little of Horatio's doubts and fears, (Archie wasn't the only one Simpson abused, in fact Horatio even contemplated suicide), and how he overcomes them so that he can realize his natural potential. But the doubts never really went away, and I wish the writers had chosen to keep that part of his character intact.

If in fact he did do it, I'm rather pissed that he allowed Archie to take the fall. Yeah he was dying, but it wasn't a very honorable thing to do for a man that seemd to hold honor in such high regard.

That is what makes me hesitate to say that he pushed Sawyer. I've gone back and forth on it. When Horatio talks with Archie before his testimony, he seems unsure how to proceed, he "doesn't want to speculate" as to how he will handle it. His friends seem to think he did, and needed protecting. The fact that Horatio wasn't told beforehand that Archie would be testifying shows that he would have tried to stop him, in fact he did try but was too late. And Archie wanted it that way - no deep dark secret, as you said, but he knew he was dying and didn't want to leave his friend with a blemished record, for even if Horatio denied pushing Sawyer the accusation would always be there unless someone else confessed to doing it.