Guest blog by ArrJimLad
Tired of being stuck ashore? Restless to get out on the ocean waves?
Here at Adlard Coles, understanding seamen that we are, we know how fighting the urge to hoist anchor can sometimes seem unbearable. Fear not though, help is at hand…
We’ve put our heads together to compile an absolutely non-definitive list of sea-themed films for you to trawl through – a veritable life raft for those of you unsure of being able to cope without the water’s ebb and flow until you’ve spoken to your boss and booked some time off work.
There are, of course, dozens that didn’t make the cut (some rather controversially, although few tears were shed over some of the other omissions) but that’s where you come in. If you’ve got your own take on things, if you think we’ve got it wrong or you just downright disagree, feel free to post any of your thoughts below. Right, let the debate begin!
Let’s get this one out of the way first, shall we? Yes, we know it’s not cool. Yes, we know it’s received more than its fair share of press this year. And yes, we know its existence comes hand in hand with Celine Dion going on and on… but all of that, dear cynics, would mean overlooking a few bare-faced facts.
Made directly before James Cameron holed himself away to create Avatar, on its initial release Titanic did the following: earned over $600 million at the US box office; launched Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet onto the A-list; and possessed some genuinely (and under-rated) spectacular special effect sequences that left audience jaws on cinema floors.
Yet, beyond all of the Oscars, tears and an ability to put bums on seats, arguably Titanic’s greatest achievement is that it has continually managed to capture the imaginations of a worldwide audience on a scale rarely encountered before. And for that reason alone, it’s got to be on our list.
It’s easy to forget that in the few years leading up to Pixar’s game-changing computer animation hitting our cinema screens, Disney were producing smash-hit traditionally animated films that captured the imagination of audiences all over the world.
The Little Mermaid is as bright, colourful and, dare I say it, twee as you’d imagine, but it would be ludicrous not to acknowledge its standing as a firm family (and office!) favourite responsible for taking generations under the sea for the very first time.
8. Das Boot
I haven’t seen this. People in the office tell me I should. That is all.
Understandably criticised by marine biologists and shark enthusiasts the world over for demonising one of nature’s greatest surviving predators, but it’s impossible for this almost entirely sea-based film NOT to make our list.
Adapted from Peter Benchley’s novel, Jaws was Steven Spielberg’s big screen breakthrough and was directed on a smidgen of the astronomical budgets his productions now command. Assisted by John Williams’ iconic score, Spielberg creates a Hitchcock-like thriller-horror via clever use of underwater camera shots which left audiences lifting their feet onto their chairs in fear of being gnawed on by an eternally hungry great white shark which, for the vast majority of the film, remains unseen.
That said fish actually turns out to be quite a turgid rubber-tyre of a creation when you get a closer look at it matters not; packed with classic cinematic moments, Jaws deserves its inclusion.
Now to a film lauded for its accuracy. Starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany, Master and Commander (based on the novels of Patrick O’Brian) raked in ten Oscar nominations and countless plaudits from the critics. As gnarled and gritty as you’d expect the Napoleonic Wars to have been, this epic portrayal of soldiers’ lives at sea during the early 1800s comes with humanity, but isn’t for the faint of heart.
Not technically sea-based for the majority, but it’s difficult not to mention a film that comes loaded with the idea of the ocean’s supremacy and how it can, if it so wishes, leave one at its mercy.
Actor Dan O’Herlihy received an Oscar nomination for his interpretation of Daniel Defoe’s most famous character in a story that has inspired countless other productions to employ the ocean’s strength as a means of throwing characters into seemingly unassailable, despairing situations.
Not since The Shawshank Redemption has Morgan Freeman put his silky smooth Tennessee voice to better use. Freeman narrates the English version (the original documentary is in French) of a stirring story of the annual hardships the emperor penguins of Antarctica must face in order to mate.
There has, of course been other successful sea-life-based schmaltz on our cinema screens over the years, but March of the Penguins trumps them all because, not only does it manage to tick the ‘oh sooo cute!’ and ‘heart-warming romance’ boxes, but because it’s real.
Take that, Keiko.
It’d be difficult not to include a submarine-based film on our list, so we’ve gone for a classic. Other films might lay claim to being tense, successful sub-based thrillers in their own right, but the impact of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea had on its audience shouldn’t go underestimated.
An adventure based on Jules Verne’s novel, it has become regarded as one of Disney’s classic non-cartoon productions which, alongside adding greater intrigue into the wonders of the sea, also brought about a terrifying monster of the deep onto our screens.
Back when Johnny Depp was still in short trousers little could he have known how his bank balance would prosper from a story to which all other pirate adventures owe their pieces of eight.
Jim Hawkins, Billy Bones, Long John Silver, yo-ho-ho, fifteen men on a dead man’s chest, parrots, wooden legs and bottles of rum… this film adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel is the cinematic blueprint for every pirate who’s sailed the seas ever since.
1. Finding Nemo
The Little Mermaid looked spectacular on its release but the animation seems stone-age in comparison with this, a sensory overload that’s, arguably, Pixar Studios’ greatest work.
By deciding to cater for the adults of the children clamouring to see their films, Pixar’s productions are known not just for their heart, but for their intelligence too, and Finding Nemo is no exception (for example, how many average 5 / 45 year-olds knew about anemones or the EAC before Nemo and Dory showed them?). A production that makes you want to go out and explore for yourself what the depths of the ocean have to offer, this masterpiece deservedly floats to the number one spot on our list.