Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

36 corrected entries

(4 votes)

Corrected entry: After launching the decoy "vessel", Capt. Aubrey shouts, "Hard a-larboard", spins the steering wheel to the left, making the ship turn left. But in those days a ship's wheel worked in the opposite way: to turn the ship left you had to spin the wheel to the right, and the correct command would have been "Hard a-starboard."

Correction: The order "hard a-larboard" is correct, because if the order was given not to the wheel, but directly to the people below (at the rudder stick), it would be har a-starboard, but the order is given to Barret Bonden at the wheel. It is a rudder order, not at steering order.

Corrected entry: Stephen Maturin's cello has a end pin or spike which he rests on the floor while playing. Cellos of that date did not have such spikes, they were cradled between the legs of the player.

Correction: The cello may have an end pin on it, but the cello is never shown that low, so we have no idea if it's there or not. Also, Stephen is seen holding it between his legs at the last scene. Even when he lifts it to 'strum' it, you don't see the bottom of it.

Corrected entry: In the scene right at the beginning, when the midshipman who later commits suicide spots the strange French vessel on the horizon, the other midshipman present refers to him as the "officer of the watch". However, no one below the rank of lieutenant could be in this position.

Correction: Since the Surprise as a Post-ship was allowed 3 lieutenants, and as I recall there were only two in the film, Pullings and Mowett, he may have been given an order as an acting-lieutenant. That would give him the right to stand a watch by himself.

Corrected entry: The scene were Captain Jack explains the difference between a pirate vessel and a privateer was solely to educate modern audiences on the matter. It was a common practice at the time for a government at war to authorize private vessels to prey on ships of the enemy (so common that the constitution of the United States specifically authorizes the government to do so).

Correction: This scene was not just for the public. Readers of the books know that the doctor, even after many of years at sea, remains woefully ignorant of naval terms. This is demonstrated earlier in the film when Jack tries to explain the "weather gage" to Stephen.

Corrected entry: The title of the movie is "Master and Commander", describing Jack Aubrey. But Jack is not a master (technically speaking he isn't a commander either, but a post captain.) He would only be the 'master and commander' if he didn't have a sailing master on board, but he does have one on the Suprise in the movie- the man who gets shot through the forehead when boarding the Acheron, after saying that "the job is done".

Correction: The film is based on a series of books, one of which has that title. In technical naval terms, Jack may not be a master or commander, but he is commanding the ship and is complete master of it (in a non-nautical sense), so the title is not unreasonable.

Corrected entry: In the navigation scene, the midshipmen and Capt. Aubrey are facing the wrong direction: The ship is south of the equator, heading south. The sun should be north of them, but all are facing forward to "shoot the sun" with their sextants. Note they have to turn about, to see the Acheron pursuing them.

Correction: This is not necessarily true. During the southern summer the sun is well below the equator. As the Galapagos are almost on the equator you would see the sun in the south at noon. I have not noticed anyone mentioning a specific month in which this scene is set.

Corrected entry: Most of the views of the French privateer Acheron were computer generated imagery (CGI) from a digital model of USS Constitution. A Fox crew spent several days in Boston photographing and using laser measuring instruments to capture a complete and accurate version of "Old Ironsides."

Correction: I actually worked on the film, especially in regards to the sailing ships. The majority of the views of the ACHERON sailing are digitally composited images created using footage filmed of a 1/8 scale miniature created by WETA Workshop (the folks in NZ who did LOTR).There are only a couple shots which used the CGI ships for either ACHERON or SURPRISE. Most of the VFX shots relied on the miniatures.

Corrected entry: In the opening scene, the officer of the watch and Aubrey couldn't even spot the French ship with the telescope through the thick fog. But then, how was the French ship able to fire at Surprise with such accuracy? Their line of sight would be just as bad as the British.

Correction: The French ship is a 44, whereas SURPRISE is a 28. It is possible that her masts are higher, allowing lookouts in the tops to see the topmasts of the aproaching British frigate. Depends on how deep the fog bank is, but I've seen similar things at sea on more modern ships.

Corrected entry: After strumming his violin like a guitar, Russell Crowe briefly sets it down to pick up his bow. The violin is heard still playing.

Correction: This could be taken as an artistic decison by the director to continue the haunting music being played, as this occurs several times throughout the film

Corrected entry: The Captain and the surgeon play several duets together, with the Captain on the violin and the surgeon on the cello. However, if you listen closely to the songs they play, many of these sounds couldn't actually come from a duet. Most notably the first time they play, it sounds more like two violins and a cello, or even a string quartet are playing the song, when it's showing only the two men playing.

Correction: no mistake here, check the sound track if you must, but there are only two players of the music used for the many duets heard.

Corrected entry: It is a great idea to use the fake navigation lights. But no ship would even have them lighted during a chase in the first place.

Correction: This may seem an unlikely incident but Patrick O'Brian described this in the book "Master and Commander" and he took the incident directly from the autobiography of Lord Cochrane, the prototype of Jack Aubrey, who used just this ruse back in 1802 or so.

Corrected entry: Midshipman Lord Blakeney gets his right arm amputated. Two scenes after that you see his right arm back, holding a sextant.

Correction: Blakeney does not regrow his arm. Captain Aubrey is holding the sextant for him.

Corrected entry: When Aubrey gives the boy a book on Nelson, the boy asks about a certain battle and Aubrey tells him it is on a certain page. In 1805 and before, most books did not have page numbers, or those same numbers were incorrect. He's much more likely to have used the printer's signatures or just have flipped through the book to the correct page. I'm not saying he wouldn't have had a book with numbered pages (or those pages wouldn't have been correct), but Aubrey would likely have been in the habit of NOT using page numbers.


Correction: The poster's point is approximately a full century off. Up until the end of the seventeenth century, printed books were normally numbered by signatures (a combination of letters and numbers marking quires and the leaves within a quire) or foliation (numbered by leaves - recto and verso - rather than separate pages). During the eighteenth century, however, publishers switched to pagination, often in conjunction with signatures. There would have been nothing remotely unusual about a paginated book in 1805.


Corrected entry: I don't know whether this is an editing error or a projection error, but several times during the storm scene, mysterious patterns of colored lights (perhaps a camera graphic) briefly flash up on the screen for a frame or two.

Correction: This is most likely a new form of copy protection - I noticed it during Kill Bill as well. As far as I'm aware, the basic premise is that all prints have a pattern of red dots which appear for a couple of frames at certain points throughout the film. Each pattern of dots is unique to a print, so if a copy of a film ends up online, it's possible to identify precisely where the copy came from. Annoying, but not a movie-specific mistake.

Corrected entry: During Stephen's self-performed surgery, he asks Higgins for the catling. This instrument, a long, sharp, double-edged knife used for amputations, is not what a doctor would have used to make his initial incision and it is not what Higgins hands him in the subsequent shot. (01:30:55)

Correction: 1. They are at sea, so it is very likely that he does not have proper equipment. 2. He is performing surgery on himself which would be a lot different than doing it on someone else. 3. It is made very clear that Higgins is not a doctor.

Corrected entry: One of Aubrey's crew saw the Acheron, a French frigate, when it was under construction in Boston. This was carried over from the book in which the Surprise originally pursues an American frigate. The Americans did not build frigates for the French.

Correction: It is never insinuated that the ship was built FOR the French by the Americans. Ships changed owners and nationalities frequently. Wasn't Aubrey's first command a French-built ship?


Factual error: At the end of the film, Aubrey sends the de-masted prize Acheron to Valparaiso, Chile, for repairs. Valparaiso is 3,000 miles from the Galapagos Islands, and, in 1805, was a tiny village without appropriate port facilities to dock or repair anything as large as a frigate. Valparaiso did not become a major port until after Chilean Independence from Spain (1810). Guayaquil (in modern Ecuador) would have been a more appropriate choice, being about 750 miles from the Galapagos, and being a major port in 1805. The choice between the two ports was moot, anyway, since both municipalities were Spanish territory in 1805, and thus were allied with the French, and hostile to the British.

More mistakes in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Capt. Jack Aubrey: England is under threat of invasion, and though we be on the far side of the world, this ship is our home. This ship *is* England.

More quotes from Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Trivia: Paul Bettany describes the scenes in which he collects insects: "I don't like insects. They tend to scamper and scuttle, so it was difficult." He also practiced for his self-operating scene by sitting "at home and [trying] it with a butter knife in front of the mirror."

More trivia for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Question: Can anyone tell me about the strange flag (sort of a blue lozenge in a white field) the Surprise flies in her disguise as a whaler?


Chosen answer: The flag is a signal flag, and is probably meant to signal that the ship is a whaler or engaged in fishing operations. Such flags were part of an international code, which, with some modification, is still in use today. (The flag is similar to the modern-day "Foxtrot".)

More questions & answers from Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

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