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Huddled against the biting wind of a January gale, a thin young man sits miserably in the stern of a small boat battling its way across the churning waters of Spithead Bay. It is 1793, and Horatio Hornblower is reporting to duty aboard the battleship Justinian... The epic saga of the legendary sea-faring hero comes to life in these epic films based on C.S. Forester’s classic novels. Set against the bloody backdrop of the Napoleonic wars, HORNBLOWER charts a course for high adventure, following the raw recruit as he battles the French, evades capture, and rises through the ranks of the King’s Navy. With a powerful performance by Ioan Gruffud (Titanic) in the title role and produced by the Emmy®-winning team behind JANE AUSTEN’S EMMA, HORNBLOWER brings C.S. Forester’s classic tales to life in all their swashbuckling glory.
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Based on the rousing sea adventures in C.S. Forester's novel Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, the four-film television series Horatio Hornblower explores the education of a plucky young officer rising through the ranks of His Majesty's Navy. Ioan Gruffudd is all integrity and honor as the ambitious midshipman who is taken under the stern yet nurturing guidance of Captain Pellew (Robert Lindsay) during the war against France in the French Revolution. Through these four adventures he faces a vindictive senior midshipman ("The Even Chance"); meets his hero, a reckless captain whose unorthodox methods are brave but foolhardy ("The Examination for Lieutenant"); is captured by the Spanish in a desperate maneuver to sneak through enemy lines ("The Duchess and the Devil"); and leads his men to French soil in an ill-planned attempt by French loyalists to start a popular front against the revolution ("The Frogs and the Lobsters"). The excellent re-creations of 18th-century vessels and ship-to-ship battles are astounding and reminiscent of such classic Hollywood seafaring adventures as Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk, not to mention Captain Horatio Hornblower, with Gregory Peck as the only previous screen incarnation of Forester's hero. This mixture of swashbuckling adventure and British naval tradition is leavened with well-placed humor and a cast of colorful characters, but at the heart of the tales is Gruffudd's quick-thinking, courageous Hornblower, a starry-eyed officer with the luck of the gods and the steely determination of an old-fashioned hero. --Sean Axmaker
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