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To The Ends of The Earth
William Golding's classic sea trilogy, charting a young aristocrat's rite of passage, comes to life in a spectacular adaptation.
It's 1812 and Edmund Talbot (Benedict Cumberbatch) is travelling on board a decrepit wooden warship. He is on his way to Australia to take up a Government post secured for him by his rich and influential godfather.
The bulk of the story is set on board the ship on the high seas towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars. It is a diverse, complex and haunting trilogy of William Golding's novels, Rites of Passage, Close Quarters and Fire Down Below.
Edmund is young, witty and naive, and all set for adventure and bravery in the face of whatever a long sea voyage might throw at him. He is also immature, vain, haughtily cocksure in his perception of the world and ripe for certain lessons, both emotional and intellectual.
The ship he travels in 'renders like an old boot' and there's nothing in the least bit romantic about it. It is crammed with a disparate assortment of officers, seamen and passengers (made up of gentlemen like Talbot and few ladies) and a 'cargo' of poor emigrants. Presiding over this little society is the irascible Captain Anderson (Jared Harris) , who is positively hostile to Talbot until he learns of the young man's powerful patron, which makes him grudgingly respectful.
Director David Attwood faced enormous challenges bringing the programme to the screen:
"If you're doing a Boys' Own story it doesn't matter whether it's raining or calm," says Attwood, "But in To The Ends of the Earth the weather and what happens to the ship is integral to what happens to the characters.
"One of the things I needed to have as director was control of the weather, which of course is the most difficult thing to control.
"A lot of this story happens near the equator or in the doldrums, south of the equator. We needed calm weather and some sunshine, but we also needed storms and all the variations you get of weather at sea - drizzle, grey days, choppy days, channel weather, big ocean swells. They all have an effect on the story."
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