The mutiny on the HMS Bounty was a real historical event that occurred in 1789. The crew took over the ship from the captain, William Bligh, and set him adrift. Whatever the actual historical record, the story has been fictionalized onscreen numerous times, including famous productions in 1935 starring Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh, and 1962’s Mutiny on the Bounty with Marlon Brando leading the mutineers against Trevor Howard’s Bligh. There are variations, of course, but in almost every version, Bligh is treated as the villain; a brutal and cruel leader.

That makes President Donald Trump’s tweet about the film today particularly strange. Trump is comparing his ongoing struggle with state governors over who gets to reopen states’ economies once the threat of the coronavirus pandemic wanes to Mutiny on the Bounty. In his tweet, seen below, Trump calls Mutiny on the Bounty one of his “all time favorite movies” and that mutinies are “exciting and invigorating ... especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain.”

Again... we haven’t seen every version of Mutiny on the Bounty (maybe he’s talking about 1933’s In the Wake of the Bounty starring Errol Flynn?), but this is a very strange reading of its events. Most leaders would not want to be compared to the sadistic dictator who treated his sailors so poorly they felt they had no choice but to take over the ship. By pretty much every standard, if you’re comparing Mutiny on the Bounty to the current struggle between the federal and state governments, the state governments are the heroes. Which is ... not what Trump believes?

This would not be the first time President Trump seemingly misinterpreted a classic film. In an interview in the early 2000s with filmmaker Errol Morris, Trump said his favorite movie was Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, and while he did seem to grasp that the film’s depiction of “accumulation” and wealth was not meant as a positive representation, he also says Kane features a man on a “great rise” with a “modest fall.” That’s not quite how most folks read the film’s final scenes.

If nothing else, today’s tweet proves President Trump continues to have a ... singular view of his favorite movies.

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