Billy Budd


Action / Adventure / Drama / War

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh91%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright91%
IMDb Rating7.8104489

court casehomicidemutinywar ship

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

Terence Stamp Photo
Terence Stamp as Billy Budd - Merchant Seaman, Rights of Man
David McCallum Photo
David McCallum as Steven Wyatt - Gunnery Officer
Peter Ustinov Photo
Peter Ustinov as Edwin Fairfax Vere - Post Captain Royal Navy
John Neville Photo
John Neville as Julian Radcliffe - Second Lieutenant
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1007.83 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 3 min
P/S 0 / 4
1.93 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 3 min
P/S 0 / 4

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MartinHafer9 / 10

Pretty good stuff from Herman Melville--and it's hard to imagine he never got this published during his lifetime.

This is an exceptionally good movie, but it begs the viewer to ask "why did they put American actors like Melvyn Douglas and Robert Ryan in a drama set aboard a British warship?!". While both are good actors, neither sounds the least bit British. Surely there must have been other qualified actors whose voices would have fit in with the rest of the cast that included Peter Ustinov and Terrence Stamp (as the title character)! The film is set during the time of the Napoleonic era--when the Brits and French were arch rivals. During this era, the British navy was stretched to its limits. As a result, the Brits were forcing (or impressing) lots of sailors from merchant ships (and not always British ones) into their navy. But, because the seamen were now a much more valuable commodity, the average sailor now balked at the traditional British code of military discipline. To summarize it, your superiors are gods and you are a piece of scum to be beaten at will...and like it! As a result, several of their warships had rebellions--and captains, in some cases, were killed! So, stories like "Mutiny on the Bounty", "Damn the Defiant!" and "Billy Budd" are based on real life situations caused by men no longer wanting to be beaten and executed for trivial reasons (in most cases).

The film begins with a merchant ship being forcibly stopped and boarded by a British warship wanting to impress sailors into their crew. However, the merchant sailors are an angry and hostile lot and they decide to only take one of the crew (Billy Budd). Much of this seemed to be because Budd had such a nice disposition--he'd take to the British navy with little complaint. However, Budd's innocent and sweet nature is put to the test by the actions of his immediate superior (Ryan)--a martinet who seems to revel at breaking and tormenting his men.

This is a very good story and seems in many ways like Melville's other classic, "Moby Dick". In both stories, there are insane leaders who cavalierly misuse and abuse their men. There also is LOTS of religious symbolism--and I have heard others refer to Budd as a Christ-like figure. However, unlike "Moby Dick" (at least the movie versions--I never would dream of actually reading it),the symbolism seems a bit less pervasive and heavy-handed--and as a result makes a much more compelling story. Plus, it's a lot more believable than a giant insane whale and an even more insane Captain! Well worth seeing because it's an interesting story and the acting is quite good. However, for fans of Ustinov, this isn't one of his best roles--he is a bit more bland and 'normal' than his usual performance. This is NOT a complaint--just more like an observation.

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird10 / 10

A very powerful film, especially for the acting

One of those films that is not only as good as the book but close to being better. The book is great(have a preference though to Moby Dick though, also by Herman Melville) with a story that is gripping and emotionally resonant, strong characters and a most interesting writing style, though also one that will take some getting used to. This film adaptation of Billy Budd is just wonderful and is as of now my favourite Melville adaptation. The cinematography is gorgeous and the ship is very handsomely rendered, so the film has an attractive visual style as one of the numerous things going for it. Antony Hopkins's music score is a rousing yet sympathetic one, it is elegantly orchestrated and not only is it a beautiful score to listen to it also does a great job matching the mood of each scene and what each character is thinking. The script is very intelligently adapted, and its style is actually fairly loyal to Melville's, without being too wordy or complicated. The story isn't completely faithful here, but Melville's style does shine through and in a compelling and fresh way, as well as affecting, parts did give me the chills and the ending is poignant. There are added scenes that added a lot rather than detracted, a prime example being on the deck with Claggart, a chilling scene(just like in the Britten opera, which is well worth checking out) that makes Claggart more repulsive than he already is. The pacing has space but it is not plodding at all, while Peter Ustinov clearly knows what he's doing here and directs with a deft touch. His performance also as Captain Vere is also one of his most restrained, for an actor who could be hammy(often enjoyably),and rarely has he done noble and gentle so touchingly. The aftermath of Billy's death is very believable emotionally. The rest of the cast are just as powerful, Terence Stamp's Billy- a character who you immediately like and genuinely feel sorry for- brought me to tears and Melvyn Douglas is both gravelly and robust as Danskar, who is much more interesting in this film than he is in the book. Acting honours though go to Robert Ryan, a superb performance that manages to give some depth to a truly frightening and evil-incarnate character like Claggart. All in all, wonderful film where the acting especially helps in making it as powerful as it is. 10/10 Bethany Cox

Reviewed by bkoganbing8 / 10

Poor Young Billy

This adaption of Herman Melville's unpublished novella served to introduce Terrence Stamp to the movie-going public in his breakout part in the title role. It's one of the great portrayals of innocence in a cruel world on the big screen. And it's also one of the great portrayals of unsatisfied homosexual desire in the person of Billy Budd's great adversary, Master-At-Arms John Claggett as played by Robert Ryan.

Melville as a New Englander knew full well about English impressment of seaman. And in 1797 after the mutinies in the fleet at Spithead they were needing sailors worse than ever. The Royal Navy had no compunction about taking seaman from their own civilian merchant ships as well as American ones. A press gang comes aboard the merchant ship and takes young Billy Budd of striking looks and undetermined origin for service in His Majesty's Navy.

On board the British warship, Stamp's happy go lucky attitude makes friends among the crew, but arouses the enmity of Ryan who just has it in for him from day one. He's a cruel and sadistic sort in any event, but Stamp arouses something special in him and the word arouse can have several meanings in this context.

I don't want to give too much away, but if one is familiar with Herman Melville's slightly better known work of Moby Dick you will find certain parallels. The great white whale that everyone is conscious of is the French enemy and their fleet. When they attack the problems of the ship and its discipline seem petty indeed.

Between the two poles of good (Stamp) and evil (Ryan) is the captain Peter Ustinov and the rest of the crew. From Ustinov on down they watch the drama played out between Stamp and Ryan, knowing who was in the right, but also knowing what the rules, in this case the Articles of War call for.

Terrence Stamp in his second film and in the title role got an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, the only nomination the film received. He lost to Ed Begley for Sweet Bird Of Youth. But his performance wouldn't be possible without the excellent and unrecognized one of Robert Ryan. The two play off each other so well.

The story of Billy Budd lay undiscovered after Melville's death in 1891 until 1924. It's been made both a play and an opera, but this film version is a most satisfying piece of cinema.

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