Billy Budd (1962) Poster


Peter Ustinov: Edwin Fairfax Vere - Post Captain Royal Navy



  • Captain Vere : Master-at-Arms, you possess too much knowledge for such a lowly post.

    Master At Arms Claggert : Why, thank you, Sir.

    Captain Vere : [impatiently]  It's no flattery, Mr. Claggert. It's a melancholy fact!

  • Captain Vere : I am just a man, not fit to do the work of God... or the Devil.

  • Lieutenant Seymour : Aye sir, that is your right.

    Captain Vere : It's no right. Which one of us here have rights? It's my duty and I must perform it.

  • Captain Vere : You know Seymour, there are some men who cannot stand too much perfection. They see it as a disease, which must be stamped out at it's first rash showing.

  • Master At Arms Claggert : We must serve the law, sir, or give up the right and privilege of service. It is only within that law that we may use our discretions according to our rank.

    Captain Vere : You're so intelligent and so lucid for the rank you hold, Master At Arms.

    Master At Arms Claggert : I thank you, sir.

    Captain Vere : Yes, that's no flattery, Mr. Claggart. It's a melancholy fact. It's sad to see such qualities of mind bent to such a sorry purpose. What's the reason for it?

    Master At Arms Claggert : I am what I am, sir. And what the world has made me.

    Captain Vere : The world? The world demands that behind every peacemaker there be the gun, the gallows, the jail. Do you think it will always be so?

    Master At Arms Claggert : I have no reason not to, sir.

    Captain Vere : You live without hope?

    Master At Arms Claggert : I live.

    Captain Vere : But remember, Mr. Claggart, that even the man who wields the whip cannot defy the code we must obey and not be broken by it. That will be all.

    Master At Arms Claggert : Aye, sir. With your permission, sir, is it still to be ten lashes?

    Captain Vere : It is.

  • Captain Vere : In the question of Jenkins, Budd was telling the truth.

    Lieutenant Seymour : I know, sir. What are you going to do about Claggart?

    Captain Vere : What can I do but watch and wait? No court martial would do more than strip him of his rank for such misconduct. And then what? As a rating, he'd be slaughtered by the other men. And who would replace him? And would the French refrain from attacking us while we settled our petty differences? No, I must give him his head until some act puts him squarely counter to the law and then let the law consume him. What would you do if you were captain of this ship?

    Lieutenant Seymour : I'm not captain of the ship, sir.

    Captain Vere : One day you may be, Philip. Then, remember.

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