Reproducing the Mutiny on The Bounty
Pitcairn Island is home to the descendents of the British and Tahitian people, who were involved in the famous mutiny that occurred here years ago on the ship ‘The Bounty’. Inevitably, this story defines a huge part of Pitcairn ancestry, and even though the Islands are part of one of the least populated jurisdiction in the world, this event has been reproduced various times.
The story began as ‘The Bounty’ set sail from England to Tahiti with the mission of transporting breadfruit to Jamaica, where the plants were to be introduced as an reliable and nutritious food source. The actual journey was difficult for British Royal Naval ship, as Captain William Bligh cut out months of the ships planned route, a decision that ended as a navigational nightmare. Weather conditions did not help either and because of Bligh’s focus on getting to Tahiti while the breadfruit was still in planting condition, he pushed his crew harder and cut their rations, amongst other abuses. In an attempt to justify his actions to Fletcher Christian, the ship’s second-in-command, Bligh explained that fear was the only thing seamen understand. Eventually Christian’s tolerance diminished and he lead a mutiny against Bligh and took over ‘The Bounty’; sending Bligh and the portion of the crew that was still loyal to him away on a small boat, while Christian and the rest of the crew set sail and settled on Pitcairn Island. Bligh and the rest of his men returned back to England and reported the mutiny.
One of the most famous reproductions is the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty, which retells the historic sequences of events that took place aboard the ship. The film stars Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian and Trevor Howard as William Bligh, both of whom have been described as giving ‘fascinating performances’. Mutiny on the Bounty is also coined as a tale that is ‘true, turbulent and tremendous’, pointing to the historically dubious retellings of the story. Directed by Lewis Milestone, a Russian-born American motion picture director, who also directed films such as Two Arabian Knights (1927), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Of Mice and Men (1940) and Ocean’s 11 (1960), Mutiny on the Bounty is deemed a blockbuster, especially in comparison to the original 1935 film version.
Other reproductions of this event relating to the identity of the Pitcairn islands can be found, with the most unexpected being the depictions that have arising in the more contemporary context of pop culture. The British rock band The Mekons, for example, have a song about the mutineers, and series such as Star Trek and the Simpsons have named ships or even created episodes based around the story. More recent literary accounts have provided different views, like John Boyne’s 2008 novel Mutiny on the Bounty which was written from the perspective of Bligh’s personal valet. Even the manga series, Highschool of the Dead, likens characters to ‘The Bounty’ mutineers. Finally, comic book writer Andrew Bonia hosts a blog called ‘On the Bounty’, where he draws different comic scenes of the mutiny. ‘The Bounty’ is now also celebrated on postage stamps around the world and Pitcairn Islands also host a Bounty Day to remember this event.
The video below shows the trailer for the 1962 film.