Of all the 18th-century maritime adventures in A&E’s Captian Horation Hornblower series, based on the novels by C.S, Forster, this entry resonates most powerfully in contemporary times.
When Admiral Hood (Peter Vaughan) pressures Captain Pellew to cooperate with the French, Pellew must bite his tongue he's well aware of the risks involved in this misalliance. But to Admiral Hood, who moves troops about as if they were toy soldiers, teaming with refugee Royalists is a win-win situation for the British: If the exiled General Charette (John Shrapnel) succeeds in fomenting an insurrection, the English can claim allegiance to the monarchy displaced by the French Revolution. If, as Pellew expects, the venture is doomed, the English government still gains European prestige for trying to restore the power of a legitimate aristocracy. Despite the entirely reasonable reservations of his under-officers, Pellew forges ahead with the Indefatigable’s passenger, British
soldiers led by Major Edrington (Samuel West). Pellew requests that Hornblower (Ioan Gruffudd) back up General Moncoutant (Antony Sher) in his position within Charette’s two-pronged sally. Once ashore in France, Hornblower leaves his sailors in charge of guarding a key bridge. Before long, Hornblower and Edrington lose patience with Moncoutant, a martinet more concerned with avenging personal slights than in waging battle. When he isn't being brushed aside by
Moncoutant, Hornblower becomes the protector of local schoolteacher Mariette (Estelle Skornik). Pellew considers disobeying orders and intervening in the Royalist blunder so he can save British fighting men, while Hornblower and Edrington are in danger of becoming sacrificial lambs for revolutionaries who’ve been underestimated by Charette and Moncoutant.
Blithely sacrificing troops as part of a doomed military strategy is an old irony given added relevance by writer Chris Ould. Cast as pawns forced to shoulder the weight of a lost cause, the superb ensemble enable viewers to experience the repercussions of their superiors’ callousness.
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- Released: 1999
- Rating: R
- Review: Of all the 18th-century maritime adventures in A&E’s Captian Horation Hornblower series, based on the novels by C.S, Forster, this entry resonates most powerfully in contemporary times. When Admiral Hood (Peter Vaughan) pressures Captain Pellew to coope… (more)
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