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The silver screen has long been inspired by the sea. Here's our definitive list of the top ten best maritime movies ever made!

Top Ten Maritime Movies

Ever since the early days of Hollywood movies, the silver screen has long been inspired by the sea. With the high drama, fantasy, and glorious aesthetics of the ocean it is easy to see why filmmakers continue to be fascinated with portraying the narrative of seamen, their ships, and their harrowing tales. Whether the movies be romantic, thriller, action, or comedy, life on a ship is an excellent setting for mysterious tales. 

Of course maritime history, stories of wrecks, pirates, tall ships, and trade is fascinating and integral to our understanding of our heritage and our history as a nation. Despite the excellence of these films and their depiction of the big blue, they can somewhat add more mystery to history. For those who want facts, not fiction and happen to be passing through, we strongly recommend the Harbor Museum in Portland, Maine. An excellent museum that documents Maine’s rich maritime legacy.

Without further ado here is our comprehensive list of the top ten tales of maritime myths and madness.

Captain Philips (2013)

Inspired by the harrowing tale of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama which was hijacked in 2009 by Somali pirates. This movie excellently depicts the delicate balance Captain Philips and his crew must find with the pirates, to get themselves out alive. 

This intense thriller stars Tom Hanks as Captain Philips and documents the bravery and skill required to negotiate with the pirates to ensure the safety of his vessel and crew.

Titanic (1997)

It couldn’t be a roundup of the top ten maritime movies without an honorable mention to Titanic. James Cameron expertly depicts the ill-fated maiden voyage of RMS Titanic and managed to turn a harrowing, gruesome tragedy into a romantic tale that instantly became a box-office blockbuster. 

As much loved now as it was 20 years ago, this tale of mystique and sorrow has to be one of the greatest stories the Atlantic has to offer.

Pirates Of The Caribbean (2003-2017)

This epically entertaining 5 part film franchise tells the awesome, mysterious, and mystical tales of pirates, treasure, and tall ships. Depicted in a light and witty way, egotistical Captain Jack Sparrow and his ship the Black Pearl steal the limelight with his eccentric demeanor and incredulous tales. Suitable for audiences young and old this is a much-loved family favorite.

The Abyss (1989)

Another deep blue wonder from James Cameron, The Abyss is a science fiction film that tells the narrative of a nuclear submarine that’s faced catastrophic electrical and hydraulic malfunctions. At the dark depths of the ocean, search and rescue teams discover something very unexpected . . .

Perfect Storm (2000)

Based on the true story of the 1991 disappearance at sea of fishing vessel Andrea Gail during a weather phenomenon known as the perfect storm. Starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg this is a dramatic, intense action thriller. 

Life Aquatic (2004)

In typical Wes Anderson style, Life Aquatic follows the hysterical tale of eccentric oceanographer Steve Zissou, played by Bill Murray, as he tries to take revenge on the jaguar shark that ate his partner. 

This movie is an excellent homage and parody to the pioneering french diver Jaques Cousteau. Despite being a box-office flop Life Aquatic has now amassed a strong cult following. 

Das Boot (1981)

This epic west German war film depicts the story of life inside a WWII U-96 submarine. The crew are living inside this deep-sea claustrophobic metal tube, pushed to the edge of sanity they fight for their lives against, malnutrition, exhaustion, low morale, and the British. One of the all-time great war movies and definitely a must-see!

Jaws (1975)

Spielberg incredulously started directing Jaws when he was just 27, making it his major directional debut. This film is iconic in so many ways, John Williams’ minimalist score, the intense suspense throughout the movie, early animatronics, and of course “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”.

Lifeboat (1944)

This American classic survival movie is based on a novel by John Steinbeck and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. After a German U-boat sinks a passenger vessel, survivors crowd onto a lifeboat along with a German officer that is saved from the water. A compelling and convincing analysis of group dynamics and human nature.

Life Of Pi (2012)

A fantastical film that tells the marvelous tale of adventure and escapism. Based on the novel about a sixteen-year-old boy that finds himself stranded on the pacific with a Bengal tiger. Featuring supreme special effects this movie captures the unique spiritual qualities of the big blue.

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