Mutiny on the Bounty

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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"Can you understand this, Mr. Byam? Discipline is the thing. A seaman's a seaman. A captain's a captain. And a midshipman, Sir Joseph or no Sir Joseph, is the lowest form of animal life in the British Navy...
Captain William Bligh, 1935 version

Based on a True Story, this is a classic novel so fondly remembered they filmed it twice (In fact, there's even a remake of the book). The first version, with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton, was the 1935 Oscar-Winner for Best Picture. The second adaptation of the novel, with Marlon Brando, was 1962's most notorious flop.

There is also the movie The Bounty, which was a retelling of the actual history rather than an adaptation of the Mutiny on the Bounty novel. Featuring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins, it was going to be two separate films directed by David Lean. Production hit a snag and Lean ultimately abandoned the project. It was released as a single film in 1984 with Roger Donaldson as director. It is revisionist compared to earlier versions, staying largely historically accurate and depicting Bligh in a far more sympathetic light.

All films tell the true story of a mutiny on the ship, the Bounty. In 1789, the small British naval ship HMS Bounty[1] is sent to Tahiti under the command of Lieutenant William Bligh with the mission of bringing breadfruit plants to the Caribbean. The crew spends five months in the South Pacific island paradise while the plants grow, and the British sailors become accustomed to the good life there, basking in the sun and enjoying the company of the friendly natives (especially the women).

When the time comes to leave, the men have a hard time readjusting to the "jack tar" life of a sailor, especially under the command of their sharp-tongued commander. A few weeks after setting sail, a mutiny breaks out with second-in-command Fletcher Christian as the leader. Lieutenant Bligh is set adrift in an open launch with just over half the men and, in an impressive feat of seamanship, is able to navigate to the safety of Dutch-held Timor with only a sextant and a pocket watch.

The mutineers initially return to Tahiti. Some stay there, knowing they will be tried (and possibly executed) as soon as the next British ship arrives. 9 of the 22 mutineers (including Fletcher Christian), intending to evade capture, take the Bounty and head for the very isolated Pitcairn Island in the company of several Tahitian men and women. After reaching their goal and intending to start a new life, they burn the Bounty.

While most adaptations break off at this point, the drama actually continued for the mutineers and their companions, resulting in a decidedly non-happy ending for most: After several years on Pitcairn, violence broke out between the mutineers and the Tahitian men, and ultimately the women too. Almost all of the island's men, including Christian, died in these fights, while some others were killed by accidents, disease and excessive alcohol consumption. The net result was that when the island was first visited again in 1808, only one of the men, John Adams, was still alive, along with nine of the women and a number of children. The descendants of the mutineers continue to live on Pitcairn to this day.

Tropes used in Mutiny on the Bounty include:
  1. This is a historical Beam Me Up, Scotty; the Bounty was never designated HMS while in service.