tall ship documentaries

8 Best Tall Ship Documentaries for History Buffs [Video]

Are you a history buff who loves nothing more than immersing yourself in the world of tall ships? If so, then you might want to check out some of the best tall ship documentaries out there.

These films offer a unique perspective on the history of these majestic vessels, providing a glimpse into their role in exploration, trade, and conflict throughout the ages.

Whether you are interested in learning more about the naval battles of the Napoleonic Wars, the voyages of exploration and colonization by European powers, or the cultural and environmental impact of sailing on different regions of the world, there is a documentary for you.

1. “The Age of Sail”

“The Age of Sail” is a classic documentary that explores the history of tall ships from their heyday in the 18th and 19th centuries to their eventual decline in the 20th century.

This film takes a comprehensive look at the development and evolution of these ships, from the earliest days of wooden hulls and canvas sails to the advent of steam power and metal hulls.

Along the way, the documentary covers the most significant moments in tall ship history, such as the exploration of the new world, the rise of the naval powers, and the decline of sailing ships as a dominant force on the seas.

2. “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”

This is not a documentary per se, but a historical fiction film based on the novels by Patrick O’Brian. However, it is widely praised for its accuracy and realism in depicting the life and warfare on a British frigate during the Napoleonic Wars.

The film follows Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) and his friend and ship’s surgeon Dr. Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) as they pursue a French privateer across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The film features stunning cinematography, authentic costumes and sets, thrilling naval battles, and a captivating story of friendship and leadership.

You can watch Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World on Amazon Prime Video or rent it on YouTube.

3. “The Last Sailors: The Final Days of Working Sail”

If you’re a fan of traditional tall ships and their seafaring way of life, then “The Last Sailors” should be on your watch list.

This documentary follows the lives of the last working sailors who ply their trade on historic tall ships in the UK, as they struggle to keep these vessels afloat and preserve the traditions of the past.

With stunning cinematography and a peek inside the lives of these sailors, this film captures the essence of tall ships in their natural habitat.

4. “The Great Ships: The Windjammers”

For a more in-depth look at the commercial side of tall ships, “The Great Ships: The Windjammers” offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of cargo ships during the golden age of sail.

This documentary covers the heyday of four-masted barques and their role in carrying goods from port to port around the world.

With stunning footage of the ships in action and interviews with sailors and historians, this film tells the story of the men and women who braved the high seas to transport goods in the age before modern shipping.

5. “The Bounty”

This is another historical fiction film based on a true story of mutiny on a British naval vessel in 1789.

The film stars Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian, the leader of the mutineers who rebel against their tyrannical captain William Bligh (Anthony Hopkins) during a voyage to Tahiti to collect breadfruit plants.

The film explores the clash of personalities and values between Bligh and Christian, as well as the cultural differences between the British sailors and the Tahitian natives. The film also features stunning scenery, authentic ship replicas, and a gripping plot.

6. “The Voyages of the Tall Ships”

“The Voyages of the Tall Ships” is a series of documentaries that cover some of the most famous tall ships and their voyages around the world.

From the Cutty Sark to the USS Constitution, this series covers the history of these vessels from their construction to their current-day status as museum ships.

With interviews with experts and stunning footage of the ships themselves, “The Voyages of the Tall Ships” offers a unique look at these historic vessels and their place in wold history.

7. “The Pirates of the Caribbean”

If you’re a fan of pirates and want to learn more about their connection to tall ships, then “The Pirates of the Caribbean” is the documentary for you.

This film covers the history of piracy on the high seas and how these notorious bandits used tall ships to carry out their raids.

With recreated scenes and interviews with historians, this documentary offers an insightful look into the world of piracy and its impact on history.

8. “Shackleton’s Captain”

This is a documentary that tells the story of Frank Worsley, the captain of the Endurance, the ship that carried Ernest Shackleton and his crew on their ill-fated expedition to cross Antarctica in 1914.

The documentary uses archival footage, interviews, dramatizations, and CGI to recreate the incredible journey of survival that Worsley and his men endured after their ship was crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea.

Worsley’s remarkable skills as a navigator and leader enabled him to sail a small lifeboat across 800 miles of stormy ocean to reach South Georgia Island and rescue his comrades.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, these are just a few of the best tall ship documentaries out there for history buffs. Each film offers a unique perspective on the world of tall ships, their history, and their impact on the world.

So what are you waiting for? Grab some popcorn, settle in, and let these films transport you back in time to a world of adventure, exploration, and change.