”What in the world have I done?” captain Edward Fairfax Vere asks, years after he has left the command of HMS Indomitable. Captain Vere, in his old age, looks back at past events on the ship.
When the good-natured, hard-working and handsome Billy Budd joins the crew of HMS Indomitable, everyone is enchanted by him. Billy has his weaknesses, however, and the hardened crew member Claggart has no hesitations about exploiting them. Billy becomes the target of envy and scheming, and ends up committing a crime under pressure. As a result, Captain Vere does something that will haunt him for the rest of his life.