Billy Budd

Billy Budd

3.5 2

Cast: Peter Ustinov, Robert Ryan, Melvyn Douglas, Terence Stamp

     
 

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Herman Melville's short novel Billy Budd is adapted for the screen, distinguished by Robert Krasker's expressive black-and-white cinematography and Peter Ustinov's crisp direction. Terence Stamp is Billy Budd, a seaman forced to serve in the British Navy during the war between England and France in 1797. Billy looks upon all men as inherently good and, although

Overview

Herman Melville's short novel Billy Budd is adapted for the screen, distinguished by Robert Krasker's expressive black-and-white cinematography and Peter Ustinov's crisp direction. Terence Stamp is Billy Budd, a seaman forced to serve in the British Navy during the war between England and France in 1797. Billy looks upon all men as inherently good and, although his crew mates are initially skeptical about this sailor who appears too good to be true, he proves his mettle by his skills as a sailor and gains the respect of the crew -- all except for the ship's reviled master-at-arms John Claggert (Robert Ryan), who attempts to poison Billy's reputation by accusing him of instigating a mutiny. When the ship's captain, Edward Vere (Peter Ustinov) questions Billy about the charges, Billy reacts by striking Claggert, who falls over and dies from a blow on the head. A court-martial is called and Vere has to determine whether Billy should be hanged or acquitted. This Warner Bros. release contains the theatrical trailer along with a commentary by director Terence Stamp and filmmaker Steven Soderbergh.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Herman Melville was one of America's fiercest, most abstruse writers, and the unfinished novella Billy Budd contains many of the author's hallmarks. Like his most famous work, Moby Dick, Budd is an allegory of powerful proportions, based on an actual naval event, and has invited widely disparate interpretations. The fall from Eden, the complications of a society imposing justice, the betrayal of Jesus Christ, and even latent homosexuality are all commonly read into the text. Though many of these shadings are lost in Peter Ustinov's 1962 version of the book, he does manage to capture what is no doubt the heart of the work: the betrayal of innocence by society. Based on a stage version, the movie has a rather static quality, but admirable attention is paid to Melville's fascinating characters. Though Robert Ryan's portrayal of the evil Claggart is excellent, if a bit over-the-top, Terence Stamp's soulful performance as Billy is key to the story's emotional impact. Stamp proved himself a vital talent in the role, which garnered him an Academy Award nomination.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/06/2007
UPC:
0085391108016
Original Release:
1962
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Time:
2:03:00

Special Features

Commentary by Terence Stamp and filmmaker Steven Soderbergh; Theatrical trailer; Subtitles: English (feature film only)

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert Ryan Master-at-Arms Claggart
Peter Ustinov Capt. Edward Fairfax Vere
Melvyn Douglas The Dansker
Terence Stamp Billy Budd
John Neville Lt. John Ratcliffe
Ronald Lewis Jenkins
David McCallum Lieutenant Wyatt
Paul Rogers Lieutenant Philip Ratcliffe
Thomas Heathcote Payne
Ray McAnally O'Daniel
Robert Brown Talbot
John Meillon Kincaid
Cyril Luckham Hallam
Niall MacGinnis Capt. Graveling
Lee Montague Squeak
Victor Brooks Amos Leonard
Barry Keegan Charles Mathews

Technical Credits
Peter Ustinov Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Don Ashton Production Designer
DeWitt Bodeen Screenwriter
Jack Harris Editor
Anthony Hopkins Score Composer
Robert Krasker Cinematographer
Anthony Mendleson Costumes/Costume Designer
Peter Murton Production Designer
Robert Rossen Screenwriter

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Billy Budd
1. Credits [3:00]
2. Avenger and Rights of Man [3:47]
3. Billy Conscripted [4:27]
4. The Flogging [6:46]
5. It's Wrong [5:11]
6. Test of Strength [4:13]
7. He Decides [4:48]
8. Keep Your Hate Alive [4:15]
9. Force of Order [2:59]
10. Man on Every Spar [2:31]
11. Jenkins Falls [4:01]
12. The Way It Happened [4:58]
13. Promotion [4:49]
14. I Am What I Am [2:45]
15. Ignorance or Irony [2:49]
16. Coward's Confession [6:28]
17. Knife Edge [7:31]
18. Claggart's Accusations [5:17]
19. Death Blow [4:12]
20. Dead Man's Crimes [2:29]
21. Court Martial [2:34]
22. Dansker Senses Finality [4:38]
23. Military Justice [3:52]
24. Save Him and Us All [4:57]
25. My Duty and Yours [3:54]
26. Witness Execution [2:14]
27. Stand Back in the Ranks [3:59]
28. God Bless Captain Vere [4:23]
29. Perishable Things [2:16]

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Billy Budd 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a delight to see this DVD issue of a great film, one that brought Herman Melville's tale so wonderfully to the screen. Peter Ustinov directs and acts with assurance and sensitivity, the casting is impeccable, and the screenplay (credited to two writers whose other accomplishments aren't particularly remarkable) is outstanding. This film works on so many levels that it will benefit from repeated viewings--it's a Christian allegory, a profound morality play harking back to the most ancient themes of struggling good and evil, a subtle exploration of sexual and power relationships in a male world, a devastating critique of the limits of legal thought--and more. And, oh yes, it's also a ripping good yarn that's entertaining anyway, whether you look for all that other stuff or not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago