Master And Commander: The Far Side of the World | 2003
The seagoing scenes for Peter Weir’s epic were filmed at Rosarito Beach, Baja California, Mexico, in the giant tank built for James Cameron’s Titanic – ousting Pirates of the Caribbean , which had to move to San Pedro Harbor in Los Angeles.
However, the famous Galapagos Islands, with their unique fauna, couldn’t be faked. Master and Commander is the first feature film to be shot on the islands. The Galapagos Conservation Trust assures that there was no damage to the islands’ infrastructure.
The young Charles Darwin visited the islands aboard HMS Beagle and the unique ecology contributed to the biologist’s understanding of evolution. There are 13 larger islands and six smaller ones, on the equator about 500 miles west of Ecuador, to which the islands belong.
From every wildlife documentary filmed on the islands, you could be forgiven for believing that they’re an uninhabited wilderness, but around 25,000 people call the islands home.
The islands’ precious ecology is delicate, so visiting is not simple. However, they are a national park and you can visit with a qualified naturalist guide but, be warned, to prevent contamination, controls are strict.
Package tours will take you to Ecuador, from where the islands can be visited by boat.
Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) seeing the French ship Acheron was filmed on the island of Pinta, which used to be home to Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island tortoise, until his death at over 100 years old in 2012.
The striking spire of Pinnacle Rock can be seen on the island of Bartolomé.
Scenes which would have been more intrusive to stage – the landing, rescuing the whalers, the cricket game and the operation – were filmed at Todos Santos toward the southern tip of Baja California.