Did I feel any guilt or shame over this? I did not. Myopic went the necessary way of all men who break the fundamental rules of life, and no one felt the slightest sympathy for him. Sometimes I see some unfortunate, sitting on a park bench, dribbling as they talk aloud to people who aren’t there, and I wonder if it might be Myopic. I doubt that I would recognise him if I saw him, unless he stared at me, but they all avoid eye contact. Maybe it was a turning point for him and he went on to lead a successful life and thanks me for it to this very day. I don’t know. It was just something that happened.
I heard Christian say, “Will you hold your tongue, sir, or shall I force you to hold it. I’m master of this ship now, and, by God, I’ll stand no more of your abuse!”…
“Master of my ship, you mutinous dog!” he (Bligh) yelled. “I’ll see you hung! I’ll have you flogged to ribbons! I’ll…”
Mutiny on the Bounty is one of those truly great stories that really happened and as such, without the aid of fiction to spice it up, in the end comes off just a little bit dreary. I read the Nordhoff and Hall version, which combines Men Against the Sea, the sequel concerning Bligh’s long voyage in the open boat. The original was written by Sir John Barrow not long after the events it describes and although good enough, it leaves too many questions unanswered.
A year or two later, an epic version of the movie was released, with Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian and Trevor Howard as Captain Bligh and although they plainly gave it the works, it was a very disappointing film. Somehow, the long Tahiti sequence littered with hordes of bare-breasted females who managed to show not one nipple between them, said it all. Bligh’s cruelty to his crew, as well, could not be depicted with sufficient violence to justify the mutiny. On television I had seen the far more powerful Charles Laughton and Clark Gable version but it was superior only in terms of the acting—otherwise it too suffered the same difficulties. In more recent times, Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins gave it a go in an era when the savagery could be far more explicit and there were nipples everywhere, but it was the most unsatisfactory version of all.
Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, they say, and they are right. The Bounty saga contains such a terrific collection of delicious facts that they can neither be ignored nor distorted and therefore the good story that could have been drawn from it all remains trapped inside forever. When it should have climaxed with the final showdown between Bligh and Christian, instead they end up living happily ever after ten thousand miles apart.