Sea Warriors

Richie Film Productions
60 minutes

By Richard Moore

With the revived interest in the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars - courtesy of the Horatio Hornblower TV series and the movie Master and Commander - fans of naval fiction and other things nautical may want to cast an eye over the documentary Sea Warriors.

The 60-minute film explores the age of fighting sail through the eyes and words of naval historians and several world-renown authors. They include Douglas "Alexander Kent" Reeman, creator of the Bolitho novels and Julian Stockwin (Thomas Kydd).

It is presented by Captain Richard Woodman, who writes the Nathaniel Drinkwater series, and is an excellent introduction to the fighting force that ended Napoleon Bonaparte's hopes of dominating the world.

The key parts to Sea Warriors include how the British navy was organised, its tactics and what life was like for the various levels of seafarers - from independent captains down to the unfortunate victims of press gangs.

The experts also take a bit of time in shooting down the generally accepted view - passed on to us by those severely repessed Victorians - that life in the navy was harsh, brutal and beset by "rum, sodomy and the lash."

According to Woodman et al, life was difficult in the navy, but the tars ate well, had plenty to drink, and went about their work professionally and with a good spirit. Mind you, almost to a man they did agree that once the ships hit port then morals did tend to fly out the window as the sailors "let off steam".

For mine the first thing that grabbed my attention was the wonderful Admiralty building where an ornate weather marker within the meeting room kept the admirals aware of the wind direction at all times and a signal tower system that could relay a message to the main naval bases around England within 20 minutes and from there via fast frigate around the world.

The second was the information on the building of ships. A ship of the line, or battleship, took up to 2000 oak trees to build. Those trees were between 200-300 years old, and you see an example of how a fork in a branch was fashioned into a deck support.

Of course there is a huge amount of other information and it is all nicely presented and packaged.

There were a couple of quality blips in the video I looked at with a repeat of one expert's comments and then a bit of distortion, however, overall the standard is good with interesting location shots and good re-enactment footage. I look forward to seeing Sea Warriors in digital format on DVD.

Sea Warriors' producer and director Chip Richie and his crew has done well with this effort and it is highly recommended for nautical history buffs.


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