Arts & Life

The Sounds of Realism in 'Master and Commander'

Historical Film Strives for Sonic Authenticity in Recreating Naval Life

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Listen: Hear Neal Conan's 1995 Interview with Patrick O'Brian

Russell Crowe stars as  Capt. Jack Aubrey in the new film 'Master and Commander'

Russell Crowe stars as Jack Aubrey, a captain in the British Navy, in Master and Commander, a film adaptation of the seafaring novels by Patrick O'Brian. hide caption

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The Sounds of Battle

To recreate the sounds of naval warfare, King blended several sound effects. Listen to the component elements and the final mix:

Listen Cannons

Listen Flying Shots

Listen Sounds of Impact

Listen  Final Mix

Rounding Cape Horn

'Master and Commander' hero Capt. Jack Aubrey chases his foes across the storm-tossed Cape Horn. Listen to the sound effects involved:

Listen Ocean

Listen Wind

Listen Creaking Ship

Listen Final Mix

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World sails into movie theaters Friday. Like the Patrick O'Brian books on which it is based, the film strives to recreate naval life during the Napoleonic era as authentically as possible, paying close attention to everything from uniforms, flags, ships and armaments, to perhaps the most challenging element: the sound of it all.

To create a rich sonic world of naval warfare and high seas chases, sound designer Richard King and director Peter Weir spent months in a silent pursuit: reading O'Brian's novels for inspiration. The late author penned 20 historical adventures centered around Captain Jack Aubrey and ship's surgeon and naturalist Stephen Maturin. King says none of the sound effects in the film, which stars Russell Crowe, were prepackaged.

NPR's Michele Norris talks with King.



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