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  • When the show started I have to say that it wasn't at all what I expected it to be. I thought there would be documentary and explanation, however it was produced in story form. After I got over the initial shock of changed expectation, the film was quite good. I felt the narrative was a little clunky and jilted, however, the action was exciting and the acting was superb. The Art direction for the film was well researched and the special effects were very believable. It was refreshing to see the beauty and majesty of the ships at sail balanced with the hardship and disease. After the romanticism of Pirates of the Caribean, the reality of this film was nice. I would have liked to have more back story of the men and the reasons for their piracy than was given, but over all I will say that I enjoyed this program.
  • This was a pleasant surprise. My husband rented it, and I thought we were in for a kind of dull, droning PBS-sort of "talking heads" and "sleepy slides" documentary. Instead, "Blackbeard:Terror at Sea" is mostly filmed like a rather high quality theatrical movie, with a very professional cast, good costumes, sets and realistic ships. It compares very well with theatrical films such as "Master and Commander" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" in terms of look and feel.

    Where it is lacking is in plot and back story -- they are rather thin. The film uses voice-over from a secondary character to tie together individual scenes, and some kind of lame plot devices (like the age-old "girl in boy's clothing" -- did this ever really occur? biological factors make it seem to me to be nearly impossible). But where the film shines -- and again, where it was most unexpected -- was in some excellent performances. The most notable of course is James Purefoy as Blackbeard: this is outstanding work. In a regular theatrical film, I think he would have been singled out for award nominations for this -- he's sexy and genuinely scary (and unrecognizable under all that beard). Blackbeard is the kind of role, especially in the light of Johnny Depp's indelible Jack Sparrow, that can either be done amusingly OR it can veer dangerously into parody -- it's all too easy for a "pirate" character to seem like something out of a Saturday Night Live skit. Purefoy neatly avoids either of these stereotypes and creates a genuine and believable and unforgettable characterization.

    One oddity of the documentary (on DVD) was that Purefoy is the ONLY actor credited. I've never seen credits that did not mention the entire cast before and wonder why? The entire cast is excellent, and special mention should be made of Mark Noble for the role of "Mr. Hands", co-star and narrator; he is also very good.

    Despite some slight shortcomings (such as: there are obvious edits designed around commercials, where scenes and dialog are repeated), this is well worth a rental, or even purchase. It's a bracing antidote to more humorous pirate films, or the sloppy sequels to Pirates of the Caribbean, and enjoyable for anyone who likes sea-themed movies such as Mutiny on the Bounty or Master & Commander.

    I have renewed respect for National Geographic for producing something of this caliber -- it has the look of a several million dollar production.
  • Watching this much-repeated UK TV docu-drama serial about the infamous life and times of BLACKBEARD is a very rewarding experience. Factual accuracy can't be guaranteed as so little genuine information survives about this man, but what it does do very successfully is to deliver a new perspective about him that other programmes/films have not; and for this alone it's a very worthwhile production. It's also very competently shot and directed, which is a big bonus. Watching this you definitely get a different insight into the man that recreated himself as BLACKBEARD and went on to market his own persona with great success - unlike the mad savage he's usually portrayed as, we get the impression he must have actually been a very cunning and intelligent man who was perhaps a maverick well beyond his time in terms of understanding how to develop a brand image and how to promote that for best effect. JAMES PUREFOY is absolutely stunning in the role, and personally I find this his best performance to date, simply because he loses himself in it, which I've not seen him do successfully in his other roles. Perhaps it's due to the costume and big beard, and that there's no reliance on his good looks for the role, so he's able to project his performance beyond the facade of his own features. For sure his portrayal of BLACKBEARD is the best I've ever seen from any actor, and it's a real credit to him. As for the pirate accents; definitely they're accurate if any non-UK viewers see this drama - most English pirates of the time (inc. Blackbeard) were from the Bristol area of the English south coast - they did indeed speak this way, and to a lesser degree it's still the local accent today.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's rare that I sit down and watch a documentary and am pleasantly surprised by it. There's been a few on the Spartans, Ancient Greece, and WWII that I've thoroughly enjoyed, however I think this one topped them all.

    My single complaint about this documentary was the ending scene where Edward Teach (Blackbeard) is stabbed instead of having his throat slit.

    But aside from that and as minor as that little fine detail might be, it was very enjoyable. Most of what you see here is depicted in Captain Johnson's telling of Blackbeard, and the rest can be found on the internet. But, the visuals in this make it stand out. Not to mention the music and artwork put into it (the clothing, weaponry, and ship details).

    I'd recommend this to anyone who hasn't seen it. I rented it through an online distributor, and watched it a few times before returning it. I've since tried to find it in a local store and haven't been able to. Instead, I ordered it online and plan to watch it as soon as it arrives.

    If not for my one complaint, I would have given this a 10 star rating.
  • mr-insane18 January 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    I watched it on National Geographic it it was great. I was amused how Teach wanted to fight with music and loved it when he joked with Tom about the whole " Isn't the point of a joke to make people laugh?" thing. It was a pretty accurate telling of Teach. I never figured out what happened to Frenchy though and that really would've been nice to know. This movie shows that pirates were not the loving, funny, comedic "Pirates of the Caribbean" nor the stereotypic pirate that both movies displayed. Though close I'm pretty sure Blackbeard was decapitated during the fight instead of it being removed after though. Still no matter how much you prefer comedies or romances(which you will certainly not find here!) you have to love this movie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    POSSIBLE SPOILERS (as it were) INSIDE I just saw this on National Geographic channel, and I was quite pleased with this movie.

    In our modern day era of crossing the sea via airplanes and large cruise ships and freighters, it's nice to see how, barely 300 years ago, sloops where the cannon ports were only a few inches above the waterline, dared to cross the Atlantic. Also, it nicely showed how a smaller vessel could catch and out sail a much larger one.

    It's also nice to show that the life of the pirate was not all glamor. Teach was more than adequately portrayed by the same actor that played the Prince in 'A Knights Tale'. The psychosis of Teach (Blackbeard) was that he didn't care about fortune in the least - he just wanted to be remembered. It may seem comedic to us nowadays, but in those days, the sight of someone with slow burning fuses or flames coming from out of his head would've terrified the average person - more so the superstitious sailor.

    There was only one thing left open, and that was the fate of Frenchy. I ended up watching the ending of this twice to try to figure that out, and didn't see it. There was a lot of historical accuracy, and the costuming and props were dead on. Very well done.
  • grey-3713 March 2006
    With the disclaimer that it was the most accurate portrayal on television, I thought I would do a little lookup. I couldn't find much online, I'm assuming most of the backup documentation is in museum or offline locations.

    A couple of tidbits I did find online conflict with the narrative, but then again, a great deal of stories conflict. It would be interesting to see how the determination of "most accurate" was made.

    However... The wife and I have a thing for the age of pirates, and looked forward to this eagerly. We weren't disappointed.

    My only complaint was the backtracking after commercial breaks. It was kind of like we had to be reminded of what we'd just seen not 60-90 seconds ago.

    Now that this is no longer in production, I think the database should be updated! I also think that a listing of the rest of the cast would be nice. I'm curious about the actors portraying the prominently displayed members of the crew.
  • Many who knows a thing or two about the great pirate era will know doubt get annoyed of this television movie on how it isn't historically accurate according to the legend of Blackbeard. To Them I have two things to say:

    1: Remember that history is always written by the winners. The Brits for one do not like the rest of the world to know the origin of the privateers and how they became the first pirates in America. All records of that time was written to make them seem as villainous as possible (which many of them were) and make the empire seem as noble in opposite. I'm not defending the action of most pirates of that era, I'm just saying it is impossible to know the true and full story.

    2: So what? This wasn't a true documentary in the stile that it was suppose to inform us, but it is meant to intrigue us and make people interested about the era and this fascinated man. It is much in the same genre of some other BBC production that was made at the same time, like ''Hannibal'' and ''Genghis Khan'', which I also highly recommend. It is meant to be a movie with a documentary style narrative, with good actors and some excellent cinematography. And sense why can't know the true history behind Blackbeard, I can't see how ''lost facts'' should stop you from enjoying this piece.

    Now, why do I like this movie so much? Well, just like vikings so have pirates always fascinated me. And Blackbeard is the most fascinating pirate of all time (but not the most successful... that honor goes to Bartholomew Roberts). I saw this movie for the first time about 8 years ago, and it's one of those movies I can go back to over and over again.

    There aren't much in terms of characters in this movie. The the actors playing the crew are not bad by any means, but they are really just there to help portray the man of the title. But that is not really needed, because James Purefoy as Blackbeard could hold up a movie by himself ten times over. Be (sadly) put Ian McShane on his place, perhaps being the best portray of the character since Robert Newton. That he didn't get to play the character in the cinema is a really big lost for us all.

    The scenery and costumes are also great, and the ships looks amazing. And despite the historical ''missteps'', the movie also makes a great work to learn us some other trivial from the era, like how big the ships really were, instead of the monsters from the PoC- movies.

    Is it a great movie?... not really, BUT is it a enjoyable one? If you like me love pirates, then HELL YEAH!
  • I am currently writing a fictional novel on the life of Edward Teach and in doing so I have been researching this topic for little over a year. I thought I would watch this to get more in sight into the character of Blackbeard. However the research conducted into the period and into Edward Teach himself is very poor, almost as if they have only looked into one source for their research. I am only part way in to watching but am already slightly disappointed on the lack of structure and diffinative lack of depth. It feels more like a taster of a portion of pirate lifestyle than a factual telling of the life of Edward teach, or at least what we know of it. Seeing as this is supposed to be a factual representation and not fiction, very, very bad research.