Horatio Hornblower: The Wrong War (TV Movie 1999) Poster

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quadrophenia71822 November 2001
This is a wonderful finale to a wonderful series. It is not, in my opinion, the best of the lot, but that does not mean that it doesn't have it's strong points.

I skimmed Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, the book that these four films are based on. Consequently, as someone who enjoyed this particular chapter immensely, I could have skipped the love story - but then again, I'm not a romantic by any stretch of the imagination. I thought that because of time constraints, the whole thing was rather rushed. Falling in love in the course of a day is something for a sitcom, not a serious movie, but the actors did an amazing job with what they were given.

The good greatly outnumbers the bad. Ioan Gruffudd did a wonderful job as Horatio throughout the series and he remained consistent throughout this episode. I consider him to be a wonderful actor - the perfect one to play the young, gangly seventeen year-old who comes into his own gradually.

Gruffudd's performance was only accentuated by the brilliance of his dynamic co-star Robert Lindsay, himself an amazing actor. Lindsay's performance as the indomitable (and indefatigable) Captain Pellew was right on the mark.

The rest of the cast was wonderful, including poor Mariette, played by Estelle Skornik. I will never tire of watching Matthews, Styles and Oldroyd and Paul Copley, Sean Gilder, and Colin MacLachlan fit these roles perfectly. Jamie Bamber as Midshipman (Acting-Lieutenant) Kennedy also did very well. John Shrapnel as Charette affected a decent French accent, as did Antony Sher as the infamous Moncoutant.

One last praise goes out to the fabulous Sam West, admitibly one of my favorite actors. West does an amazing job portraying Major Edrington and that dry, upper-class sarcastic wit never fails to earn a grin from me. The character of Edrington is one of my favorites in the book and West does an amazing job portraying him.

I find it a horrible pity that wonderful actors such as these listed above have trouble finding roles in internationally acclaimed films. After seeing this particular film, I performed an extensive search for the above actors. Armed with a list of some of the ones I desperately wished to see, I visited all of the local movie stores. Apart from Howard's End (Sam West), Fierce Creatures (Robert Lindsay), and 102 Dalmatians (Ioan Gruffudd), I came up empty-handed. So, here I am, armed only with a taped version of the Frogs and the Lobsters.

You will not be disappointed with this film - at least I doubt you will. I have yet to find someone who didn't enjoy it throughly. The costuming is accurate, the characters wonderful, the story is gripping and the acting is phenomenal. I highly recommend it to just about anyone.
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The best in the current series!
altea31 January 2000
The 4-part made for tv-series comes to an end, at the moment that is, with a terrific final episode! This episode is the best installment of all four movies! It has everything from espionage, intrigue, murder, war, horror to romance and beyond, you name it! It is a classic! Each minute of the movie is filled with great drama! This is Horathio Hornblower at its best! BTW the use of music in this episode is excellent. So now that the series comes to an end I hope that we will see Horathio Hornblower very soon again on the little screen, until then, it is back to the novels of Forester to fill in these waiting days!

Conclusion: The series is highly recommended! It is an oases compared to the desert of day to day tv-fare!
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Hornblower an excellent series!
BumbleBoo31 December 2004
I was so surprised by the excellence of this movie which is the third I have seen and now look forward to seeing the complete series. Even my wife who is not particularly interested in naval history was entranced by it. Having read Patrick O'Brian's naval history Aubrey & Maturin series I have become fascinated by this period of history. Master and Commander was a movie made from a combination of two of O'Brians's book and also was a realistic portrayal but somehow Hornblower has given another dimension to life and living in these wooden ships. The Hornblower filmed series adds a memorable visual quality to this history and I can heartily recommend them.
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Fascinating detail brings the 18th century to life - you won't be able to look away.
helen-1527 April 1999
The "Horatio Hornblower" series has been a wonderful surprise. It is beautifully filmed, with enough period detail to make it seem real, while things are carefully explained to us so that it is not too obscure. We learn along with the new young officer Horatio. By the time of this, the fourth movie, he has developed confidence and values of his own, and they are sorely tested as he, a sailor, ends up in a French village contested by the Republicans and the Royalists. The performances are wonderful. I hope that there are more "Horatio's" in the works.
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If America only knew how good this was.
TexasRedge17 April 2002
If America only knew how good this was,it would be the highest rated Made-For-TV movie series of all time(hard to believe there are more people out there that would rather watch "The Columbo Mysteries" than Horatio Hornblower- that just goes to show the power of major network name-brand advertising.

The Hornblower movie series has been television at its finest. I have seen all 6 of the A&E Horatio Hornblower movies,"The Duchess and the Devil" is my favorite of the 6 films. However I tune in to A&E everytime they air a new Hornblower movie. So far all 6 movies have been based on the Horatio Hornblower adventure novels written by C.S. Forester(the same author who wrote African Queen). Each Movie chronicles the on-going adventures of Horatio Hornblower who is a Brittish Lt. in the Brittish Navy during the late 1790's-to early 1800's during the Napoleonic era in Europe. I sincerly believe that each one of these 6 Films has been good enough to have shown at the movie theaters,if the producers had wanted to. Unlike other Made-For-TV films,The Hornblower films do not have that Made-For-TV feeling to them,like most television movies have.

A common misconception that people who havent seen these movies have is that all 6 of these films go to gether as a mini-series- that is not true. The Hornblower movies are not a mini-series,all 6 of these films are individual movies about the same charactor- with all the same actors playing the same roles in each film(EXAMPLE:think of the James Bond films-They are not sequels, but they are all about the adventures of James Bond- that same principle applies to the Hornblower movies) I give the entire Horatio Hornblower movie series 5 out of 5 stars. Its Perfect entertainment- but you cant please everyone, so for those of you dont like epic battleship battles,historic style drama,high stakes adventure, and danger on the high seas,if you dont like stuff like that-there is always Columbo re-run for you to watch.
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A deep entry
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews21 October 2013
Exiled French Royalists gain British support for a desperate attempt to take back the Republic. Against his better judgment, Capt. Pellew(Lindsay, who balances maintaining discipline with a respect and fondness of Horatio) is made to oversee the operation, as well as keep secret a terrible fact that may doom it. Hornblower(Gruffudd, a man who stands against injustice, and here experiences his otherwise strong sense of diplomacy failing him in favor of that principle) is joined by the "Lobsters", English army soldiers, and their officer, Edrington(West, a man who reveals more layers to him as this progresses, with none of them conflicting with the earlier ones). They must work under the seemingly endless certainty of the "Frogs" in charge - General Charette(Shrapnel, fierce in his support of the monarchy) and Colonel Moncoutant(Sher, who cannot wait to take on the role of Marquis of the village they take as part of the assault).

Thematically and in developing characters, this is possibly the richest of these so far. One particular object appears a number of times in this, each bathed in meaning, altering the situation, in a manner that flows logically from what has been seen until that point. As already mentioned, this further fleshes out our main cast(Bamber's Kennedy, while youthful, growing into a man, delivers a line that, compared to what he's said earlier, simultaneously elegantly shows one of the larger conflicts in this), as well as doing justice to the new ones. They are human beings, for better or for worse, and they will grip and effect you - I spent most of this glued to my seat, and either clenching my fists in hope for some, or digging my nails into my hands to quell my fury with others. The arrival of nobility in their post-revolution motherland is a microcosm of the international clash of two vastly different political and philosophical approaches. The UK's king was terrified for his own position. Would "liberty, unity, and power" spread? Could it even be stopped?

We see a historically early example of traditional warfare facing off against guerrilla tactics, of the psychological repercussions of being in such a situation. The two countries are contrasted - in favor of one of them? Absolutely. However, vital points are nonetheless made, and the people of the other are not made out to be, even mostly, "bad". We come closer than before to the intimate, nasty detail of the reality of armed battles - meeting people caught between those who overthrew Louis XVI, and those who wish to reinstate such a ruling system(and yet the perspective always remains that of our returning ensemble). Production values, filming, editing all continue to be amazing - hardly anything betrays that this was made for TV, and not the silver screen. It inspires debate, research, and delving into what made what this depicts, and other things like it, occur. The people and nations involved and what drove them to be and do such.

There is disturbing, brutal, bloody, violent content in this. I recommend this to everyone - if you are not yet old enough to handle the unpleasant aspects, make a note to see it once you are. 9/10
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I love this series!
Dancing_Bear16 November 2004
I agree that the acting is phenomenal, I too wish to see Sam West and Robert Lindsay in other productions, but it seems that there is very little available by way of backtracking their other works. I am tickled every time Lord Edrington gives one of his dry little commentaries, he would make an awesome verbal adversary. I can't remember where I heard this quote but it pops into my head when I watch Sam West's portrayal of the redoubtable Lord Edrington, "It's difficult to fight a battle of the wits with the unarmed." Not that HH is 'unarmed', but Lord Edrington seems to leave the Naval folk deliciously speechless rather frequently.

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bloodshed and romance as the series continues
TheNorthernMonkee16 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS The French Revolution split the French nation like so many internal wars have split nations before. With royalists and republicans executing each other in equal measures, it's a wonder that many French were left alive by the end of the conflict. In the fourth episode of the majestic Hornblower series, the charismatic member of the King's navy, must fight to save a French town from an extremist Frenchman.

Still serving aboard Captain Pellew's (Robert Lindsay) Indefatigable, Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower (Ioan Gruffudd) is sent to France with an extreme French General (Anthony Sher) to re-associate the General with his village. Arriving at the village however, it isn't long before the General's power gets to his head however, and Horatio must help the beautiful schoolteacher Mariette (Estelle Skornik) and the rest of the village.

As a rarity, this episode is spent mostly on dry land, and whilst a nice pleasant change, it does feel slightly more isolated. Lacking in the gritty realism of seafaring, "The Frogs and the Lobsters" feels distinctively more like an opportunity for the brilliant Lieutenant to fall in love in sunny climates, a sort of Club 1700s as it were.

Minus the sea, Hornblower often doesn't feel like Hornblower though, and this shows in a weak script and plot which have a tendency to frustrate and annoy. Two phrases never thought to be heard about such an amazing series, they are necessary sadly for this episode and the mediocre following couple.

Still, scripting aside, the series continues to benefit from some top notch acting. Gruffudd is once more on top form, as is Antony Sher as the inscrutably evil General Moncoutant. Once more however, the series is helped along by an award winning turn by Jamie Bamber as Hornblower's best friend Archie. Bamber has grown throughout the entire series and he will continue to improve until the characters disappearance from the series.

For being part of such a good series, it's emotionally disturbing to want to condemn any episode. Sadly this fourth part is vastly inferior to it's predecessors. You do find yourself engulfed and desperate for more at it's conclusion, but compared with earlier episodes, it remains a big disappointment.
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Based on the C.S. Forester classics
lhk3 May 1999
The last (well, I hope not) in an extremely high-quality series following the travails of the honorable 18th-century naval officer, Horatio Hornblower. Performances and writing are exceptional, and so are the lessons that we (and Horatio) learn in this episode.
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The Frogs and the Lobsters
Prismark107 November 2017
Captain Pellew sends Hornblower to France with the French royalist Colonel Moncoutant (Anthony Sher.) He reminded me of Monsieur Faberge, a Brut.

The British have teamed up with their enemy with the hope of helping the royalists to overthrow the revolutionaries. Hornblower accompanied by Major Lord Edrington (Sam West) find that Moncoutant is too busy exacting revenge against the villagers they are based in. Hornblower falls for the beautiful schoolteacher.

It is not long before Pellew and Hornblower separately realise that this unholy union is doomed. Hornblower is appalled by what he sees the royalist soldiers do. Major Erdington a man of sardonic dry wit tries his utmost to keep things diplomatic with the French royalist soldiers and the angry Hornblower.

Less seafaring action in this one, especially as Pellew is struck as there is no wind for the sails of his ship. Romance is in the air for Hornblower with the schoolteacher who tries to keep her and the children safe.

There is character development for Archie Kennedy who becomes more experienced in battle, a good performance from Sam West and an over the top one from Anthony Sher.
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Pellew - Hornblower relationship OTT
DFBrowne20 May 2003
While not wishing to detract in any way from this excellent adaptation of the C. S. Forester novels, I do have one small quibble. I think that the relationship between Hornblower and Sir Edward Pellew is slightly OTT. While the books admit to a large amount of mutual respect between the two, some of the statements made by Pellew are ludicrous. Take for example his admitting to the French General that Hornblower was 'as dear to him as his own son'. This becomes all the more improbable when one bears in mind that the real Pellew, although a compassionate captain, was by nature a gruff man and therefore unlikely to incline towards any major public show of feeling.
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