11 May 2020 6082 Views

PolitFlix of the High Seas! Maritime Movies, Motifs and Magic. From Pirates to Poseidon Adventure and More..

by James Murphy

Polit-Flix: High Seas. Maritime Movies. 

All Aboard the SS/HMS/USS Politflix as James, Dave, Tom, Rory and Lucy chart a course across sea-based films and the related discussion points. 

JAMES MURPHY: Your Host / Virtual Captain.


Dave Bond

Lucy Edyvean: Lucy@lucyedyvean.com

Rev Dr Tom Atfield

Rory Broomfield 

Points considered, at a glance:

  • Which is the most Naval James Bond movie? Is Piracy always evil and bad? 
  • Who is the most convincing Sea Captain on film? Gibson /Clooney/Costner/Crowe/Depp/Hanks all under consideration. 
  • When is a Boat movie not really a Boat Movie (clue: Bitter Moon). When is a Boat Movie both too long with so so script and yet still absolutely amazing Cinema with epic stunt-work to match (Titanic). 
  • Is Speed 2 actually a fantastic movie in disguise? Should there be Speed 3?! Is Boat that Rocked secretly an action/adventure movie?
  • Plus: The best watches, sweaters and hymns /prayers at sea. James joins a Monastery? And much, much more (moor)..

Click below, listen, drop anchor, have a dash o’ rum and sing a shanty song after. 

Show Notes:

Pirates of the Caribbean

Action/adventure/fantasy series, inspired by the Disney theme park rides of the same name. Curse of the Black Pearl won an Oscar nomination and Box Office clout for Johnny Depp as ‘Captain’ Jack Sparrow.

That first film is a fresh, energetic, romantic and simply accessible, accessibly simple yet  aesthetically rich pantomime of a piece. Sequels muddied the seas by introducing pretentious story and character arcs that simply did not work.

There were nevertheless some awe inspiring, fun and stand-out action sequences in each episode (notably the sword fight in part 2, the storm in 3 and the carriage chase through London in 4). Hans Zimmer’s scores are a highlight. Reboots mooted but do not discount Captain Jack coming back..


Master and Commander: Far Side of the World 

2003 movie based on the book by Patrick O’Brian. A truly epic and immersive experience. The whole script is textured and detailed and full of lessons in leadership and life both at sea / of the time and on land in any era.

Russell Crowe proves he is among the greatest actors of all time here; somehow capturing a sense of leadership, humanity, sensitivity and charismatic comradeship, without compromising brutality in battle or vulnerability in its aftermath.

Though not quite Gladiator at Sea and therefore neither monster hit nor best picture Oscar winner, this remains an underrated gem and it’s a shame that sequels have not been forthcoming as yet. Directed by Peter Weir.


The Boat that Rocked

Period piece rom-com romp from Richard Curtis and Emma Freud. Released in 2009, the movie gives a fictionalised overview of the pirate radio era in the 1960s, with the heroes a thinly disguised tribute to the crew of Radio Caroline.

Stunning ensemble cast includes: Nick Frost, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Gemma Arterton, Bill Nighy, Jack Davenport, Ken Branagh and Emma Thompson. Cracking script, score, songs, laughs and sea-based action. AKA Pirate Radio (a very unhelpful title imho and that probably hurt takings at the Box Office?). Love this film.

Captain Phillips (2013) stars Tom Hanks as the eponymous helmsman, captured by Somali pirates. This is one of Hanks’ finest performances. Criminally overlooked by the Oscars. A must ‘sea’.

Titanic is one of the biggest blockbusters of all time. It broke all records in 1997/8, won a pile of Oscars and is a masterpiece of technical innovation, visual design and pitch perfect stunt-work. Kate and Leeeeoooo are adorable.

Message in a Bottle (1999) is a sweet romantic drama starring Kevin Costner and Paul Newman. Lots of boats and genuine attention to nautical detail. Sweet. I like it.

The Perfect Storm was a big summer movie in 2000, consolidating the leading man clout of George Clooney. Based on a true story, though its precise version of events was disputed in Court. Still a rousing tribute to the bravery of fishermen everywhere and the majesty of the sea and nature and power of weather.

SPEED 2: Cruise Control is a very silly sequel to Speed. But this 1997 misfire has moments of charm and some solid sea-based action choreography.

The Poseidon Adventure  (1972) is a definitive disaster movie. Gene Hackman stars as a an action man Preacher Reverend who takes charge of a small band of fellow passengers on board a sinking cruise ship. Can he save them and himself? Watch and find out. Immediately.

Dead Calm is a taut suspenseful thriller, set at sea, from 1989. Think Don’t Look Down meets Psycho, on a boat. Phillip Noyce marries jump scares and claustrophobia to the endless perils and salvation of the sea, perfectly. Billy Zane’s first boat film (he was also the baddie in Titanic) and a standout early performance from Nicole Kidman.

Bitter Moon (1992) is not about boats. But it is set on a cruise ship. Lesser Polanski entry with adolescent prurience posing as profundity. Fascinating, nonetheless and a young Hugh Grant is a standout here.

The James Bond Films frequently refer to their hero’s naval background: Commander Bond. Nautical 007 outings include: You only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, For your Eyes Only, Licence to Kill and Tomorrow Never Dies. Daniel Craig’s Bond is seen sailing a lot but as yet unconfirmed to have been an Officer in the Navy pre secret service.

See Also:

The Bounty


Cutthroat Island

The Talented Mr Ripley

Das Boot


Captain Blood

Crimson Tide

The Abyss

Ghosts of the Abyss

Star Trek 2

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Rolex Watches

Omega Watches

Hans Zimmer

Aran Irish Sweaters

British Maritime Initiative

Thank you for listening. Stay Safe, Alert and Well.

PolitFlix will return in Love and Marriage.. 



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