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Two Age of Sail Films #BriFri

By Joyweesemoll @joyweesemoll

Two Age of Sail Films #BriFriWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish - reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!

Last week, I plotted an itinerary for a day trip out of London to the Chatham Historic Dockyard - more about what I learned from that exploration today. Sim is reading The Limehouse Golem and shared stills from the upcoming movie. Becky reviewed Espresso Tales, the sequel to Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street. Jean celebrated her completion of Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser - it took her over a year!

Last week, I mentioned two movies that I wanted to see to prepare for a visit to the Chatham Historic Dockyard - Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and That Hamilton Woman.

We have a limited DVD collection, getting most of our disks from Netflix, but we own Master and Commander. Rick likes to use it to test our speakers. Cannon blasts demonstrate the capabilities of a subwoofer. So, we watched that one immediately.

I think I like Master and Commander more each time I see it - observing more deeply the relationships.

The lack of female characters is, at least, reasonable in a story about war at sea. I hate war stories without women, because there are always women in war zones on land. Ignoring them is male privilege that makes it easier to justify violently tearing through people's homes and lands.

As a story to help me understand life on board a ship in the Age of Sail, Master and Commander is a film-making feat. Some scenes are rolling, wet, noisy, terrifying, messes of confusion. Just what it must have been like.

I learned about That Hamilton Woman while exploring the website for the Chatham Historic Dockyard. Their newest exhibit, Command of the Ocean, has a gallery about HMS Victory - Nelson's flagship during the Battle of Trafalgar. HMS Victory, "estimated the largest and finest ship ever built," originated at Chatham Dockyard and received repairs there before and after Trafalgar. Part of the HMS Victory display is the larger than life model that was built as a set for That Hamilton Woman.

Rick is reading The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson by R.J.B. Knight, so we stopped the movie a lot to talk about what he's learned so far. It's a giant book. We may have to watch the film again after he's finished when he'll know more details.

That Hamilton Woman is a black and white movie from 1941, a propaganda film to get Americans more interested in World War II before Pearl Harbor. One speech by Nelson about Napoleon as a dictator jumps out to make the message very clear.

Vivien Leigh played Emma Hamilton and Laurence Olivier (her real-life husband) played Lord Nelson. I really liked Vivien Leigh in That Hamilton Woman. I sometimes have a hard time seeing her as anyone other than Scarlett O'Hara, but she made Lady Hamilton come alive for me.

Have you seen Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World or That Hamilton Woman? What did you think? Do you have other films to recommend for understanding the Age of Sail?

Two Age of Sail Films #BriFri

About Joy Weese Moll

a librarian writing about books


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