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I do not like the ending of this film. Everything is perfect, right up until a crew member rallies the frozen mob to return fire on the French. A very messy ending, indeed. The perfect ending would have the crew frozen in place, staring up at their helpless officers as their ship was was shot out from under them. Thus rendering swift and immediate action-by-proxy in retaliation for Budd's uneasy demise.


If this film were a song, it would be a song without proper resolution. It would be as if every instrument were in perfect tune, playing in perfect harmony, until the last verse when a sour note had been hit.


Not good.


I suppose this is the fault of Melville, having himself died before finishing this novel, and it being "completed" based on his found original notes. I just can't believe he would have preferred this ending. I feel this ending was created based on those notes, but not dictated by them. It's ... not poetic.


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The assumption I take is that as much as the crew hated the authority of the Captain and officers (to the crew they would make little distinction between the evil master at arms and any other officer)  the French were  still the "greater enemy" . So the timely appearance of the  French ship defused, at least for the moment, the very tense situation on their own ship.  I would find it very hard to believe that these men would allow their own ship , and their own  lives,  to  be sacrificed as a way of protesting Budd's hanging.  You can  then speculate what the future relationship between officers and crew would be, after the battle was fought, assuming they would survive that battle.

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  • 2 years later...

I love this friggin' movie.

The moment where the crew refuse to act (at the finale) is perfectly done. Heart in THROAT. Ustinov (director) held the moment for what, thirty seconds at least? Yes, sure--he could have paused at most fifteen more seconds, but the fantastic effect was still achieved. Dramatically and practically there was no reason or sense in stopping the action any longer than that. The men had to spring back into action at some point and the intervention of the French was exactly what was needed to provoke them into doing so. The spell had to loosen somehow.

Remember, the English officers mill about on the top deck for a good long moment at least, pure panic in their faces as they realize their orders are not being carried out. But the impasse had to break at some point.

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