The Ending...

Did anyone find the ending to be unsatisfying? I thought the movie was great, but not enough was explained at the end. What happened to Bligh? What about Thomas w/ the wife and child?


I think Bligh ended up as commander of another ship where the crew mutinied again.

Sorry.... bit of research done:


Rear Admiral William Bligh (1754 - 1817)

Arguably one of the most misunderstood and complex characters in maritime history.

William Bligh was born on the 9th of September 1754 in the small town of St. Tudy, Cornwall. His career in the Royal Navy began at the age of 9, and by the age of 23 he had joined Captain Cook on his third and final voyage in 1776. Bligh was appointed Master on the H. M. S. Resolution, and was responsible for the navigation of both ships on Cook's mission to continue exploring the Pacific. It was his skill as a cartographer that had first brought him to the attention of Cook, who had personally requested that the young Bligh be assigned to the mission. By all accounts, Bligh was a genuine prodigy with navigation and cartography.

Bligh implemented Captain Cook's regimen of exercising the crew regularly, while also requiring clean laundry, regular bathing and the consumption of sauerkraut and lime juice to fight scurvy,. It was not until 1795 that limejuice rations were provided for all sailors in the Royal Navy, and to this day, British sailors are known as 'Limeys'.
Breadfruit, Artocarpus altilis

William Bligh, commander of the Bounty at the age of 33, was charged with conducting the first part of Sir Joseph Banks' experiment to transplant a major food crop from one part of the world to another. Such a thing had never been done before on such a grand scale.

When the Bounty arrived in Tahiti in 1788, the breadfruit trees had to be seeded and grown into saplings large enough for transport, a process that would take at least six months. Contrary to popular opinion, Bligh was the sort of man who wanted his crew to be happy, so instead of sailing the South Pacific exploring and mapping, he decided to give his men six months of shore leave in paradise. In hindsight, it was the biggest mistake of his life.

Many, if not most, of the men had formed deep attachments with the islanders during their long layover, and were quite naturally reluctant to leave when the time came. The mutiny is well documented and even fictionalized extensively (here's a hint; none of the movies got it quite right, although the version starring Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson came close). The part of the story that few people know about is what happened after the Captain and his men were cast adrift. With nineteen men in a single longboat, very few supplies, his log books and navigational tools, Commander Lieutenant Bligh was able to navigate almost 6000 kilometres (3700 Miles) across the Pacific, to finally make landfall at the island of Timor. This staggering feat of precision navigation was accomplished with no loss of life, although David Nelson, the botanist, died of fever several weeks later.

Sir Joseph Banks defended William Bligh to the Admiralty, and believed in Bligh so much he insisted that the newly promoted Bligh lead the return expedition to Tahiti and finish what he had started. This time, the breadfruit trees were successfully transported to Jamaica using two ships, the Providence and the Assistant.
Elizabeth Bligh by John Russel

William Bligh went on to have a long and relatively distinguished career in the British Navy, despite the fact that the family of his former colleague, Fletcher Christian, did their level best to discredit him. In particular Edward Christian, Fletcher's brother, who went to great lengths to alter public opinion. Never before had a single moment in history been so well documented and scrutinized, only to be so sadly misrepresented in the following centuries.

William Bligh had six children with his wife Elizabeth. In 1794 Bligh was given the Society of Arts medal for his remarkable feat of navigation during the 42-day longboat voyage, and in 1801 he was made a fellow of the Royal Society for services to navigation and botany. He fought in a number of sea battles including The Battle of Copenhagen, where Lord Nelson personally thanked him for his bravery.

The unfortunate fact was that Bligh was all bluff and bluster in his youth, doleing out corporal punishment less often than his famous mentor Captain Cook, and perhaps his subordinate officers saw this as weakness. Then, after the humiliation of the Bounty, Bligh's authority would be forever suspect, leading to a number of confrontations, which would leave him increasingly bitter and even vindictive. The question remains, was this in his nature, or was this attitude imposed upon him after years of scorn and abuse?

Blighia sapida by Marianne North. Painted during her visit to Jamaica in 1871-1872The story of the Bounty is a complex one, and well worth further pursuit. This link will take you to a site that has some excellent information on the Bounty and her crew. Including an extremely well researched and detailed history of the very complex issues of Mr. Bligh's Bad Health There is even a brief biography of the ship's botanist, David Nelson, whom Bank's had personally appointed to the mission.

The Genus Blighia, which consists of some four species of evergreen tropical shrubs and trees, is named in his honour. The most commonly cultivated of these is Blighia sapida. Captain Bligh introduced this unusual fruit tree to Jamaica from Africa in 1793.

Every creature in the universe is out to exterminate us, and you want to hire a vocal group?


Also, the harsh punishments that Bligh instituted were no different than the other captains in the British navy. In the Navy back then, you were taught to avoid being too lax on punishments, or risk being branded a coward.



Bligh would survive two more mutinies:

The Nore Mutiny spread throughout the British fleet. Many commanders were tarred and feathered or dunked. Bligh was relieved of command by his crew but not otherwise molested.

The rigor and authority of sea going command does not well prepare officers for the subtleties of politics. Appointed Governor of New South Wales Bligh was quickly undone and turned out by the machinations of politicos.

I'm not saying we won't get our hair mussed!


Wow, I had no idea about that!


Thanks for the background on Bligh tmf scipio.


The real Thomas Ellison, on whom "Thomas w/the wife and child" was based, was one of three crew members to be hanged for mutiny and piracy.


I always wondered, does Byam (Franchot Tone) go back to his "wife" in Tahiti? Did he really consider himself married to her?


In the novel, Byam pursues a career in the British Navy, having been persuaded that he must do so to clear his family name of any taint of the mutiny. Near the end of his career, he returns to Tahiti and learns that his wife had died years earlier. He sees his daughter, but does not let her know that he is her father. The Bounty midshipman on whom the Byam character was based, Peter Heywood, was, like the fictitious Byam, convicted of mutiny but pardoned. He returned to naval service, rising to the rank of Captain before his death.


Bligh definitely was less-harsh than is generally believed.

What one has to remember is that the Royal Navy of that time was a very harsh institution, where discipline could be savagely enforced.

Bligh was, in comparison, a humane commander. It was said that Bligh would scream at someone when other captains would flog, and flog when others would hang.

Overall, I think that the only mistake Bligh really made was in allowing discipline to go lax during the months the Bounty had to stay in Tahiti. The only other criticism of Bligh is that -while he wasn't a severe man in terms of punishment- he did have a quick temper. Bligh would oftentimes verbally lash out at someone at the slightest infraction, and used some language that even the common sailors found offensive. The flipside is that once Bligh was done screaming, he would consider the matter resolved and not hold a grudge about it. Now, the complication was that Fletcher Christian was a brooding sort who couldn't forget the verbal harangues and yearned for the peace of Tahiti. In essence, the two were a bad mix on such a small vessel for that long a time.


"What one has to remember is that the Royal Navy of that time was a very harsh institution, where discipline could be savagely enforced."

That in itself would be hard to understand, by 'modern' persons.....

That some of the british sailors were forcibly recruited speaks for itself, again hard to understand....

"A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five."


Bligh was also just a gigantic dick - while he did have to use disciplinary tactics in accordance with the law and general management of the vessel, he tried too hard to find things to dole out punishments over. He knowingly takes two blocks of cheese and then threatens to punish everyone for letting them get stolen. When a guy points out that that cheese was shipped to his house under his orders, instead of letting it go, he exacerbates the situation by blowing up over being called a liar (which he was). He was far too hard on the crew for things that they didn't do (and that he even caused) and doled out punishments not to manage the ship properly but to fuel and soothe his ego. And he flatly refused to listen to reason, preferring to use any excuse to mess somebody even more.


Well, here's some food for thought.

Bligh was able to get the launch to Timor safely, losing only one man (to hostile natives encountered when they put in for water) along the way. Christian's followers fell into conflict and wound up murdering each other, except for two survivors, within a few years of arriving on Pitcairn. Apparently, Bligh had been correct in that the men required the stern discipline handed out by the Royal Navy.


The movie-version of Bligh is actually a composite character, based on three different characters in the novel on which the movie is based: Captain Bligh himself; Captain Edwards, the tyrannical commander of the Pandora; and a third captain (I think Courtney, but I'm not certain), an aristocratic sadist who orders the flogging of a corpse. Many of the actions attributed to Bligh in the film were actually performed by the other captains, or never occured at all. For example, the Bligh of the film puts a man to death by keelhauling; neither the Bligh of the novel nor the real Bligh ever killed a crew member either by keelhauling or by any other means. In fact, in two sequels to the novel on which the film was based, it is shown that most of those who followed Bligh survived their ordeal or died of natural causes; most of Christian's followers either murdered each other or were murdered by the Polynesians whom they tried to enslave.


Edwards was vile. Bligh wasn't.