If you’ve watched the memorable movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, you might recall the fictional British warship HMS Surprise was center stage for most of the film, which was set during the Napoleonic Wars.
The Maritime Museum of San Diego is now home to the working ship that was used in the filming of Master and Commander. Originally built in 1970 as a replica of the HMS Rose, a British 24-gun frigate from 1757, the ship was purchased by 20th Century Fox in 2001 and modified to appear in scenes in the 2003 film. Because of its starring role in Master and Commander, the ship was subsequently re-registered as HMS Surprise.
The critically acclaimed movie, starring Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey and Paul Bettany as Dr. Stephen Maturin, was based on a series of popular novels written by Patrick O’Brien. Russell Crowe has been lobbying for a sequel for over a decade now. According to what I’ve heard, there’s a possibility the sequel might finally be made.
The museum recently debuted a new exhibit aboard HMS Surprise called Man-of-War, and along with many new signs on the main deck and gun deck, the captain’s great cabin is now open to the public. (You can see other aspects of the new Man-of-War exhibit here. Clicking the link will take you to a past blog post concerning HMS Surprise, where I’ve added updated photographs.)
Several memorable scenes in the movie take place inside the great cabin. Among others, you might recall scenes of officers dining and strategizing as they pursue the French privateer Acheron around Cape Horn to the Galapagos Islands, and of Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin playing the violin and cello.
While I’ve been told much of the filming of Master and Commander was done on movie sets, the great cabin visitors see on the working ship HMS Surprise is much like the one portrayed in the movie.
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