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Mutiny on the Bounty is a 1962 film starring Marlon Brando, based on the novel Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. The film retells the 1789 real-life mutiny aboard H.M.A.V. Bounty led by Fletcher Christian against the ship's captain, William Bligh. It is the second American film to be made from the novel, the first being Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). It was directed by Lewis Milestone, who replaced Carol Reed early on location shooting. The screenplay was written by Charles Lederer (with uncredited input from Eric Ambler, William L. Driscoll, Borden Chase, John Gay and Ben Hecht [245136])

Mutiny on the Bounty was filmed in the Ultra Panavision 70 widescreen process, the first motion picture so credited. It is notable for its location photography in the South Pacific and its musical score by Bronisław Kaper.


In 1787, the Bounty sets sail from England for Tahitimarker under the command of Captain William Bligh (Trevor Howard). Her mission is to transport breadfruit to Jamaicamarker, where hopefully it will thrive and provide a cheap source of food for the slaves. On the difficult sea voyage, Bligh's treatment of both men and officers meets with the strong disapproval of his second-in-command, 1st Lieutenant Fletcher Christian (Marlon Brando). The film plays up the conflict between the men as being based on class differences between the aristocratic Christian and the ambitious Bligh. Christian is always seen as being concerned about the men while Bligh is only concerned with impressing his superiors to gain career advancement at the expense of his men.

Bligh attempts to reach Tahiti sooner by attempting to round Cape Hornmarker. The attempt fails, costing the mission much time. Bligh attempts to make up time by pushing the crew harder and cutting their rations.

When the Bounty reaches her destination, the crew is exposed to the easygoing life in a tropical paradise and to the Tahitian women, whom they perceive as beautiful and sexually free. Christian himself is smitten with Maimiti (Tarita). Three men attempt to desert but are caught by Christian and clapped in irons by Bligh.

On the return voyage, Bligh attempts to bring back twice the number of breadfruit plants to atone for his tardiness, and must reduce the water rations of the crew to water the extra plants. One member of the crew assaults Bligh over conditions on the ship and is fatally keelhauled. Another falls from the rigging to his death while attempting to retrieve the drinking ladle. Seaman John Mills (Richard Harris) taunts Christian after each death. When a crewmember becomes gravely ill from drinking seawater, Christian attempts to give him fresh water in violation of the Captain's orders. Bligh strikes Christian when he ignores his second order to stop. In response, Christian strikes Bligh. Bligh informs Christian that he will hang for his action when they reach port. With nothing left to lose, Christian takes command of the ship through mutiny. Bligh and the loyal members of the crew are set adrift in a small boat (a "longboat") with navigational equipment and told to make for a local island. Bligh decides instead to cross much of the Pacific in order to reach British authorities sooner. Some loyal members of the crew are left behind because there isn't enough room for them in the longboat.

Christian sails back to Tahiti to pick up the girlfriends of the crew, then on to remote and wrongly-charted Pitcairn Islandmarker to hide from the wrath of the Royal Navy. Once on Pitcairn, the men begin to fight among themselves. Some fear that Christian wants to return to "civilization" and defend his actions against Bligh formally, in court.

To prevent this possibility they burn the ship and Christian is fatally burned while trying to save it.



All three films based on the Nordhoff and Hall novel (1933, 1935 and 1962) have considerable variations from actual historical events. Some of those in the 1962 film include:
  • The movie has Bligh and Christian meeting for the first time; in reality, they had sailed together before.The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty. New York: Viking Penguin. ISBN 0-670-03133-X.
  • In the movie, Christian is second-in-command; in reality, he was Master's mate.
  • Bligh is older in the movie than he was in real life. In the actual mutiny he was 33; Trevor Howard was 47 during most of the filming.
  • Bligh was asleep during the initial stages of the uprising; the movie shows him as awake and on deck.
  • Bligh is also seen as cruel, or at least ruthless, when in truth he was unusually progressive for a Royal Navy officer of his time.
  • Christian is seen as resolute and decisive when in reality he was indecisive and suffered from a nervous disposition.
  • In the movie, Bligh's acquital at his court-martial comes with a considerably negative statement attached. In reality, William Bligh was hailed as a hero for his courage and his astonishing feat of navigation in getting the Bounty loyalists home.
  • Christian dies at the end of the film, not from being murdered as in real life, but as a result of burns suffered while trying to save the Bounty after the other mutineers set her on fire. However, the murky historical evidence that exists suggests that he lived on the island for several years before being killed; some even contend that he eventually returned to England some years later, a difficult proposition given the distances involved and remoteness of the island in the 18th century world.


  • Lt. William Bligh: "Now, this is a typical seaman, a half-witted, wife-beating, habitual drunkard. His whole life is spent evading and defying authority."
  • Bligh: "Now don't mistake me. I'm not advising cruelty or brutality with no purpose. My point is that cruelty with purpose is not cruelty. It's efficiency."
  • Bligh: "I am at war. Against ill winds, contrary current, and incompetent officers."
  • Bligh: "You dare to quote regulations to me?"
  • Gardener William Brown: "All the rations you need to get us to Tahiti on time. Those were Captain Bligh's words. Rations of what, he didn't say. But he soon showed us. Rations of his favorite commodity, punishment. Served up to the tune of his favorite music, a cry of pain, a scream of agony."
  • Bligh (to Brown): "Damn your self-respect." Brown (to Bligh): "Damn my self-respect, sir? Then, indeed, I would be damned."
  • John Mills: "He'll surprise me if he doesn't kill half the ship's company before we get to Jamaica."
  • Lt. Fletcher Christian: "You bloody bastard. You'll not put your foot on me again."
  • Christian: "You've given your last command, Bligh."
  • Christian: "One more order, Mr. Bligh, and I'll have your head on this deck. By Heaven, I swear it!"
  • Bligh: "Your mutiny has not succeeded." Christian: "Perhaps not. But success enough if it puts an end to you."
  • Bligh: "You, too, Brown? You'd join these swine?" William Brown: "A man like yourself sir, leaves me no choice."
  • Christian: "There'll be no more killing aboard this ship, not even Captain Bligh." Bligh: "If that's an attempt to earn clemency, I spit on it."
  • Christian: "You remarkable pig. You can thank whatever pig-god you pray to that you haven't quite turned me into a murderer."
  • Group of seamen: (to Christian) "Well, we'd like to be with you, sir. But we've got families."
  • Christian: "Will you step into the boat or will you be thrown in, Mr. Bligh?"
  • Christian: (After handing Bligh a cat-o'-nine-tails) "Take your flag with you." Bligh: "I don't need a flag, because, unlike you, I still have a country."
  • Mills: "We got rid of Bligh. I'd be a dead man if we didn't. Or in prison for the rest of my life if I was lucky." Christian: "You're in prison now, Mills. With one slight difference. We're not locked in. We're locked out."
  • Alexander Smith: "Things are going to be all right for you, sir. They've got to be. When a man gives up as much as you did just because he thinks it's right, the Good Lord would never let him down."
  • The Admiralty Court Presiding Officer (Henry Daniell): (To Captain Bligh) "The court considers it has obligation to add comment to its verdict. By the force of evidentiary conclusions, you, Captain William Bligh, stand absolved of military misdeed. Yet officers of stainless record and seamen, voluntary all, were moved to mutiny against you. Your methods, so far as this court can discern, showed what we shall cautiously term an excess of zeal. We cannot condemn zeal. We cannot rebuke an officer who has administered discipline according to the Articles of War. But the Articles are fallible as any Articles are bound to be. No code can cover all contingencies. We cannot put justice aboard our ships in books. Justice and decency are carried in the heart of the captain or they be not aboard. It is for the this reason that the Admiralty has always sought to appoint its officers from the ranks of gentlemen. The court regrets to note that the appointment of Captain William Bligh was, in that respect, a failure."
  • William Brown: (On questions of how the other mutineers killed each other) "How could it be otherwise? They'd been taught to hate, and Captain Bligh had taught them well. When they needed someone to blame for Mr. Christian's death, when they needed a new target for their hatred, who was there to find but each other? First one, then another and another. Men don't learn from their mistakes sir. It's the way of us."
  • Captain of the H.M.S. Briton: "We learn a little. The Royal Navy learned. There will never again be abuses such as you witnessed aboard the Bounty.... The Articles of War were revised more than ten years ago."


  • The very first filming of the story predated the well-known 1935 Irving Thalberg/M-G-M version: it was a 1915 silent Australian picture. There was also a 1933 New Zealand film In the Wake of the Bounty, a primitive, studio-bound early talkie most notable as the first picture of future star Errol Flynn, who played Fletcher Christian.
  • The 1962 film has become legendary for Brando's behavior during filming. According to the biography by Peter Manso, Brando's antics included pulling members of the film crew away from the set to work on the decorations for a friend's wedding in Tahitimarker and flying airplane loads of expensive food and drinks to the island for parties he would throw.
  • Brando later married Tarita Teriipia, who played Maimiti in the film.
  • The second and third line of Goombay Dance Band's famous 1979 hit, Sun Of Jamaica, refers to this film: "I saw that movie 'Mutiny on the Bounty'/'Starring my idol Marlon Blando'"
  • The working replica of "The Bounty" built for the movie still survives today. In the summer of 2007 it sailed to Britain and visited several ports, although not in "Bounty" trim; masquerading as a pirate ship, its deception was spotted by a young boy and reported in the British press.


The 1962 movie did not win any Oscars but was nominated for seven:


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