Captain Bligh

Nothing beats Charles Laughton playing Captain Bligh. The man even had me scared. LOL

Bore, n.: A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary



Laughton was more theatrical. However, Hopkins definitely gave the more historically accurate portrayal of Bligh.

Bligh was actually a much more humane captain than he's generally given credit for.


Trevor Howard was also very good as Bligh, but Charles Laughton is unmatchable.

"I don't believe in cinema. I only believe in the audience" - Krzysztof Kieslowski



I entirely agree with Devreser and, without being deconsiderate to the other film Blighs, I definitely root for Laughton's. He is gripping and hypnotic in the role.

for those who criticize the film's historical accuracy: yes, yes, I know that Bligh wasn't in the "Pandora" (It was Captain Edwards, Bligh was then sailing in the "Providence" in a second breadfruit voyage), Bligh wasn't the tyrant he is in the 1935 film, in fact, he was less harsh than many of his contemporaries... and the mutineers who rebelled against his tiranny enslaved , some of them tortured, and eventually slained their Tahitian friends who came with them to Pitcairn: from them the mutineers had received generous friendship in Tahiti, and they paid them back with bondage and killing.

Bligh was certainly a better person than the average Bounty mutineer.

But then...
a) the film was based in a trilogy novel about the Mutiny and not in the actual facts
...and b) I've never heard complaints about the historical innacuracies of "The Adventures of Robin Hood","Ivanhoe" or "Knights of the Round Table"... do they accurately portray Plantagenet, Norman and pre-Saxon England?

And though I think that Hopkins may be closer to the historical Bligh, bear this in mind:
1) Laughton was, among the actors who played Bligh, the one to play the role when he had an age closer to Bligh's... The rest of actors look like the historical Bligh's papas or grandpapas.

2) The historical Bligh felt alienated from his crew and officers, and ranted at what he felt as their incompetence. So does Laughton's Bligh.

3) The historical Bligh was a self-made man, in contrast to those born as gentlemen like Christian or Peter Heywood (disguised as "Roger Byam" in the film). Because of this, his promotion upwards, due to his certain merits as a seaman, was slower than if he had been born a gentleman. The untimely death of his mentor, Cook, kept him in a lower echelon of authority than he would have deserved, and had to sail in merchant -not Navy- ships for a while to earn his keep. When he sailed with the Bounty he was a Navy Lieutenant, not a captain. This class underdog aspect of Bligh is well represented in Laughton's performance, too.

3) Laughton's Bligh is presented as a villain, but also as an outstanding seaman. He shows courage, leadership and determination when he leads the launch to Timor. In the 60s version this episode is unexistant, and in the 80's version Hopkins looks a somewhat doubtful and insecure fellow throughout the film, and even more in the launch... What I can say is: If I was to be cast adrift thirty five hundred miles from a port of call, and I had to choose a film Bligh to carry me in safety to Timor, I'd jump into Laughton's Bligh's launch.

... and 4) the historical Bligh certainly had bushy eyebrows :p

And, lastly, it was watching, enjoying and loving the 1935 -enduring, abiding- film version which prompted me to do further reading of the actual historical facts... and probably many a professional historian, or indeed, the armchair historians who now are so angry at the historical innacuracies of the film, became interested in the story after having seen the film.

Just my two cents.



I always thought Hopkins looked reasonably close in age to the historical Bligh.

Bligh might have felt alienated from his officers and men, but that was normal for a ship's captain. The captain generally doesn't mess with his officers. He (or, now, she) dines alone in his quarters. This is to prevent over-familiarization with his officers and keep a certain detachment of command. Of course, on a smaller vessel (i.e. a submarine), where there isn't the room for a captain to have private messing facilities, he would dine with the ship's officers.

Bligh generally only really started ranting about imcompetence after the five-month layover in Tahiti. When the Bounty put out to sea again, both officers and men were quite lax in the performance of their duties. Bligh, correctly, tried to crack down on them to get them to shape up.


Although the historical Captain Bligh was a courageous seaman and brilliant navigator, he was a poor handler of men. Some historians chide him for allowing the Bounty's crew to grow lax during their long (six-month) stay in Tahiti. They suggest he should have ordered them to do more of the basic maintenance of the ship, as well as used them and the ship to explore Tahiti and the surrounding islands. In other words, he should have kept them more busy, focused, and disciplined. Incidentally, after Captain Bligh returned to England, he was given command of another ship and sailed back to Tahiti to complete the breadfruit mission. With him were a detachment of Royal Marines to keep order. He stayed at Tahiti only three months his second time there. He had no further mutinies until the Nore.


Laughton was great in the film. All the actors were wonderful. I loved the film.


He was absolutely sinister, mean and completely intolerant. Clearly, he was a liberal.


I'm impressed that this discussion went on for so long before someone turned it into a reference to current politics. Not that I disagree with your joke, but it was nice, for a change, to just read thoughtful comments about a movie.