The Frogs and the Lobsters

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The Frogs and the Lobsters
Starring Ioan Gruffudd
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Original release 1999
Preceded by The Duchess and the Devil
Followed by Mutiny (2002 film)

The Frogs and the Lobsters (a.k.a. The Wrong War) is an episode of the television program Hornblower. It is set during the French revolutionary wars and very loosely based on the chapter of the same name in C.S. Forester's novel, Mr. Midshipman Hornblower and on the actual ill-fated Quiberon expedition of 1795. The main title is based on the often derogatory description of the French by the British (as well as other English speakers) and on the red coats of the British soldiers. The secondary title deals with Horatio's own duty to the Crown and the alliance with the French and his struggle with his own sympathy towards the French revolutionaries.

Plot summary[edit]

François de Charette (John Shrapnel) is a royalist general who raises a force of French exiles to restore the king to power. He is supported by the British government who provide Royal Navy vessels to ferry a combined expeditionary force of French royalist troops (the "frogs") and a half-battalion of British redcoats (the "lobsters") across the English Channel to Quiberon, but one important thing has gone wrong. A lieutenant carrying a copy of the orders has been murdered and the orders stolen. Captain Pellew, who is in charge of the transports, believes this to be the work of French spies and begs his superiors to call off the invasion, but they ignore him and the army sets off for disaster. Horatio Hornblower, the central character, is assigned to a division of the invading army that is to hold the bridge at Muzillac. The French officer in charge of the royalist forces is a nobleman who held feudal authority over the region prior to the revolution. He is obsessed with revenge, to the extent of guillotining all the republican officials and supporters who are taken prisoner. The French revolutionary forces counterattack, destroy the royalist invaders and execute their leader using the same guillotine. Hornblower and his small naval detachment manage to reach the British troops, who conduct a disciplined retreat and reach their ships.

The main departure from the original story is the introduction of French peasant girl Mariette (Estelle Skornik), now a schoolteacher with fluent English. She and Hornblower fall in love, but she is killed by French revolutionary troops en route back to his ship as she tries to escape with him.


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