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National Geographic: Blackbeard - Terror at Sea
National Geographic Blackbeard - Terror at Sea
Director: Tilman Remme
Genres: Television, Educational, Documentary
NR     2006     1hr 28min

Go inside the cunning mind of a charming criminal genius as National Geographic tells the dramatic story of this fearsome pirate who preyed on Caribbean trade routes. Blackbeard: Terror at Sea charts the exploits of Englis...  more »


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Movie Details

Director: Tilman Remme
Genres: Television, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Educational, Biography
Studio: Nat'l Geographic Vid
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 07/11/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 28min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Well put together but not always factual
Anthro Prof | McLean, VA USA | 01/10/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The positive reviews cover some of the interesting aspects of this production, but care should be taken to check the facts against the way things are presented. Blackbeard is shown as tackling other ships singlehandedly, when, in many instances, he was working with other companion vessels (for example, when taking the Concorde or when blockading Charleston). The governor of Virginia is portrayed as bending the law to pursue Blackbeard, when in fact it was the actions of the governor of North Carolina that came closer to actually being under-the-table dealings with the pirate. The wounding of sailing master Hands is shown as an act of friendship, but some accounts recount that as Blackbeard being deliberately cruel to inspire fear in his crew. Some key facts are also simply omitted, such as the loss of his flagship (the Queen Anne's Revenge) prior to the battle at Okracoke in 1718. The film revels in Blackbeard as a sort of hero, when the story is much more complex than that. Perhaps as an introduction this film has its uses, but if used in a classroom, students should be encouraged to do further research on how the facts stack up against this somewhat romanticized depiction. And one more small but important quibble. After reading the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian, I was really disappointed that this film sheds no light at all on sailing tactics used. In most of the scenes the ships are scarcely moving at all."
The Golden Age of Piracy Brought to Life
Matthew S. Schweitzer | Columbus, OH United States | 08/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"National Geographic's documentary on Blackbeard the Pirate is one of the best I've ever seen on the subject. It brings together all the bits and pieces of fact that are known about the dreaded Captain Edward Teach and uses them to build a wonderful dramatization of the life of one of the most famous and fearsome of all the pirates to sail the seas.

Most of what we know of Blackbeard comes from Charles Johnson's famous book "A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates", the classic history of piracy's golden age in the early 18th century. This serves as the basis for National Geographic's well-made film that chronicles Blackbeard's life and exploits from his early piratical conquests along the coast of the American colonies to his bloody death at the Battle of Ocracoke in 1718. The documentary portrays Teach as a somewhat human character who, despite his fearsome reputation as a bloodthirsty rogue , prefers to capture prizes without a fight and who spills blood only when needed to make a point. He forms a friendship with his first mate Israel Hands who serves as his trustworthy confidant throughout his career. Blackbeard tries and fails to settle down as a country gentleman after accepting the King's pardon, but quickly finds that gentlemanly ways and a proper wife do not suite him and he longs to return to his rightful place at sea. Virginia Governor Alexander Spottswood, obsessed with finding and killing Blackbeard, sends Lt. Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy to draw him out of 'retirement' and send him to the murky depths. The resulting battle is one of legend.

"Blackbeard- Terror at Sea" is an excellent documentary and serves to clear up many myths surrounding the legendary pirate. It is entertaining and educational and is highly recommended to anyone interested in the history of piracy and true adventure."
Swashbuckling Tale
Elidan | Ohio, US | 07/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"National Geographic has done a superb job in telling the story of Blackbeard. Told through the eyes of his first mate, Israel Hands, the legend comes to life. James Purefoy is wonderful in the title role. It doesn't glamorize the pirate life and does attempt to add historical notes along the way. It is a movie for the whole family though perhaps parents should screen it first if they have very young children.
The only minor quibble I have with it is the fact vs. folklore special feature, I had a difficult time getting it to play on my dvd player. It would have been nice if they had had Play All on it instead of having to backtrack and watch each section individually.
Also, they don't credit the other actors which is a shame since they are very good, especially the actor who played Israel Hands."
A Tale That is Not Always Accurate...
T. J. Young | Denver, CO United States | 12/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"*Possible Spoilers Included, and Quite Lengthy. Read at Your Own Risk*

I first rented this from one of the major online rental companies (not sure if I can post their name here or not) and watched it. Having an interest in Pirates and more specifically Blackbeard, I liked what I saw. However when you dig into the history of the man and his exploits you find that some of the information covered is not entirely accurate.

Before I delve into that let's first comment on the film production quality, and what they actually made.

The film itself is as long as one would imagine for any documentary. The acting for the most part is rather solid as are some of the fighting scenes. Having also an interest in swordfighting, I found a few of the fights to appear silly and very "for the camera". I don't think they captured the chaos of the battle in most of the scenes.

You then have this being a made for tv production. So, of course you have your commercial breaks. Unfortunately when making a DVD (I later purchased this from this website) you end up with a lot of recapping. The same scenes end up being played over and over (I think I saw the same sailor fly through the air five or six times).

The actor that plays Blackbeard (James Purefoy) did a fantastic job and I think easily the best on screen depiction of the man. Unfortunately there really is only so much (and it's limited) info on Blackbeard that I would imagine it was hard to accurately portray him. But the way he walks, talks, and acts is how I saw Blackbeard and I think that speaks volumes for the film. In case you don't know who the actor is, he is the same man that plays Julius Caesar in the ROME series on HBO.

So, fantastic production... now let's get into the issues. The first problem I had with this film was that it was lacking a fleet. We know that at some point Blackbeard had as many as four or five ships sailing together. At the time many of the attacks in this film are portrayed, he had at least two. Never however, do we see those two ships. We get the impression that Blackbeard was a solo Pirate with a dozen men under his command when research suggests he had at LEAST 300. I think that discredits the true nature of the Pirate and how he functioned.

We also miss a lot of the important points in the film. We don't get to see the relationship with Hornigold, or Stede Bonnet (Pirate Captains that Blackbeard once served with, or commanded over). We do however get to see some elements (which I venture to wonder how accurate they really are) such as his marriage near the end of the film.

But they did do a decent job with including some of the lore and legends associated with the Pirate (such as his 13 or 14 marriages... and the story about his body swimming around the ship).

All in all I think it was a decent representation of the man. I don't think it's a completely accurate portrayal but for the sake of entertainment I can honestly say it's a fairly good film. I would recommend to anyone that is interested in Blackbeard, to do your research before concluding this film as fact. This film should be a supporting element, not the main focus for any real investigation. For that you might try the book Blackbeard: America's Most Notorious Pirate, by Angus Kostam. That can also be found here on this website (which is where I purchased it)."