This is Don’t Get on That Boat! week. Tales of the Black Freighter is currently available on instant Netflix.
WATCH: Tales of the Black Freighter (2009) – Rated R for violent and grisly images
“This animated short — based on the story-within-a-story in the graphic novel Watchmen — follows a shipwrecked sailor as he endures ghastly horrors to get home and protect his family from an attack by the evil pirate vessel Black Freighter. But as he sails a raft made from the bloated corpses of his former crew, the young mariner descends into delusion, madness and worse. Gerard Butler narrates this companion to 2009’s live-action film Watchmen.”
“One of my crew lay ahead. Birds were eating his thoughts and memories.”
First a word of warning – this is indeed an R-rated cartoon. It is violent, grisly, and disgusting. Of course that should be obvious from Netflix’s description and my choice of quote.
In Watchmen, Alan Moore envisioned that in a world where superheroes were real, ordinary people would read comic books about pirates and horror stories like the old EC comics (Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror). His comic within a comic reflects the descent into madness of one of his characters as well as the world in which they live.
This movie is short – only 25 minutes long. The animation is done in a good clean, albeit direct to video, style. The visuals are of course based on Dave Gibbon’s original drawings. Gerard Butler’s narration is excellent and fits the tone of the story well.
My recommendation is a little bit mixed.
If you read and enjoyed Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen then I absolutely highly recommend this even though the story is taken out of its proper context. Instant Netflix also has Under the Hood available which is a faux documentary interviewing the original Nite Owl and Silk Spectre. Under the Hood is not as entertaining but is free.
If you have not read the classic that is Watchmen, YOU SHOULD DO SO NOW! Barring that, this cartoon can be enjoyed on a Tales from the Crypt (minus the snarky Cryptkeeper) level. Keep in mind while watching it that this was written well before Castaway (before you notice a number of similarities especially Wilson).
People Watch: Jared Harris is the voice of Ridley. He is also David Robert Jones on Fringe and Lane Pryce on Mad Men. The song playing over the end credits is performed by Nina Simone.