ByCasey Haney, writer at
I love movies and comics, but I know all things DC. Find me on Twitter @HaneyCasey
Casey Haney

One of the most revolutionary forms of transportation ever, sailing has been a staple in cultures around the world for centuries. Our fascination with the sea and the reverence we have for its awesome power has compelled many men and women to set sail in hopes of conquering and understanding what lies beneath the blue behemoth.

Since the birth of film, filmmakers have been trying to convey the power of the ocean and the creatures that reside within it. There have been dozens of amazing films that explore the adventures taken on by the brave men and women, as well as many fictional stories that tell dramatic, frightening, and heartfelt stories of the sea. After having the privilege to go and screen the Warner Brothers film In The Heart of the Sea starring Chris Hemsworth and Tom Holland, a list of these amazing nautical tales was absolutely necessary.

Here are The Top 5 Nautical Films of All-Time!

The Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl

Perhaps an unexpected entry on this short list, but a deserved one nonetheless, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, starring Johnny Depp, Keira Knightly, and Orlando Bloom, is a film that pays proper homage to the sea and the art of sailing it. Although the film deals with bits of the supernatural, at its core it remains a film about pirates sailing the seas doing what they do best: pillaging and getting booty (both kinds I suppose).

The artistry that went into not just the costume design, but the minute intricacies of the sets was nothing short of a love letter written to the era in time when pirates ruled the seas. An immensely popular time to look back on, Pirates of the Caribbean did this era justice as well as adapted the era in time into a hilarious story. The locales alone are enough to land this film on this list because they truly captured the beauty that the oceans have to offer, and let their human characters be the filth and danger that threatened the heroes as opposed to the forces of nature.

All Is Lost

Easily one of the most memorable films in the pantheon of legendary actor Robert Redford's career, All Is Lost is a unique piece of film that pits man against nature in a way that hadn't been done justice to the extent that we ever thought possible. We had seen many, and continue to see many, disaster films where people must face great odds and face nature head on, but few have ever shown us the harshness of the sea quite like All Is Lost.

Although there is little to no spoken dialogue, the way Robert Redford plays off of the dominating sea creates a conversation full of sorrow, fear, and respect. This conversation between man and nature is what drives the entire film, and propels it into the top ranks of not just Robert Redford films, but oceanic films as well.

The Bounty

This entry on our list is one of the best retellings of one of the oldest and most famous nautical stories of all time: Mutiny On The Bounty. The Bounty is the most recent retelling of this famous story (1984), starring Anthony Hopkins (Thor: The Dark World), Mel Gibson (The Expendables 3), Liam Neeson (Taken 3), Laurence Olivier (Dracula), and Daniel Day-Lewis (every amazing movie ever made). What a cast! With talent like this, of course this film makes this short list. It is not only an amazing nautical adventure, but an intense story of betrayal and the human psyche.

The circumnavigation in the film is astounding as is the establishment of sailing credibility. We truly get a sense of the scale in which they and the ship travel. Although this may be an intensely human story, The Bounty is only this good thanks to the circumstances in which the crew is placed: aboard the Bounty with the dictatorial Lieutenant Bligh (Hopkins). Their are few actions as associated with the sea and long voyages as "mutiny" and no other film does mutiny as much justice as this brilliant film.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

A seafaring epic, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World stars Russell Crowe (Man of Steel) and Paul Bettany (Avengers: Age of Ultron). In this film we follow along these two men as they engage in a globetrotting battle of cat and mouse. Their ship, the Surprise, must take on the prize ship of the Napoleonic fleet, the Acheron. Despite being massively outgunned in almost every way imaginable, Crowe's character, Captain Aubrey, rallies his crew in order to take on this amazing opponent.

With nothing but the cunning and seamanship of Captain Aubrey and his crew, they are not only able to survive multiple attacks from the Acheron, but also manage to ultimately capture the ship and its crew.

Not only are the oceanic battles captivating, but the scenery both on land and in the water is absolutely beautiful. We get a perfect storm (pun intended) of all things we hope to see in a great movie about the sea and those who voyage on it. Master and Commander will continue to set a standard for what nautical films can achieve not just cinematically but dramatically as well.

In The Heart Of The Sea

The great white whale lives in this telling of the true story behind the acclaimed novel, Moby Dick. In this film we are exposed to the harsh realities of not just the nature of the sea and the amazingly terrifying creatures it holds within, but we are also exposed to the virulent side of human nature. However, it isn't all dark because some of our characters keep not just their honor intact, but their humanity as well. With the choices they are faced with in the film, you'd be surprised at the strength it took for these men to remain not just sane, but decent people.

This film easily earns its credibility with its constant use of nautical terminology and sweeping shots of the sails being hoisted up on the masts and the ship sailing through the beautiful seas. Despite all of the beautiful cinematography from the masterful Ron Howard, performances from Chris Hemsworth (Avengers: Age of Ultron), Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders), and Tom Holland (The Impossible), and the nautical references, the relationship between the great white whale and Chris Hemsworth's first-mate, Owen Chase, is what drives the entire film. Seeing the beast from the depths of the sea react to these whalers is extremely compelling and unnerving. This is definitely a must-see for this genre of film.

What Now?

Well hopefully you enjoyed this short list of some of the best nautical themed films of all-time. If your favorite didn't make the list, be sure to make a case for it in the comments below and let us know what you did think of our choices.

Check out In The Heart of the Sea in theaters everywhere this Friday December 11, 2015! You will not be disappointed!


Latest from our Creators