Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World premiered in 2003 and received 10 nominations for Academy Awards, including best picture. It was directed and co-written by celebrated Australian director Peter Weir, famous for movies The Truman Show and Dead Poets Society. The movie was drawn from the 20-volume series of seafaring novels by Patrick OBrian, following the exploits of Captain Jack Aubrey [Russell Crowe] and his close friend, surgeon Stephen Maturin [Paul Bettany].

OBrian’s novels were meticulously researched, and closely follow historical events. But in distilling 20 volumes down to a single feature the team behind the movie had to not only borrow incidents from several books, but also further bend the historical framework for creative effect. So the events of the movie are set in 1805 – when Britain fought the French – rather than 1812, when Britain was at war with the United States. As Peter Weir reveals in our film, it would have been problematic to follow OBrian’s original narrative, since it would have meant Russell Crowe, playing the part of a British captain, fighting against Americans. The studio – who came up with the $150million budget for this lavish movie – would never have allowed the hero to be pitted against the USA.