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Tales of the Black Freighter (2009)

R  |  Video  |   |  Animation, Short, Action  |  24 March 2009 (USA)
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A mariner survives an attack from the dreaded pirates of the Black Freighter, but his struggle to return home to warn it has a horrific cost.


(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Credited cast:
The Sea Captain (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Money Lender (voice)
Ridley (voice)
Lori Tritel ...


A mariner survives an attack from the dreaded pirates of the Black Freighter, but his struggle to return home to warn it has a horrific cost.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent and grisly images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 March 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Originally intended to be featured within the Watchmen (2009) film, but removed once the time span of the film began pushing 3 hours. See more »


The Sea Captain: My wife, my children most certainly dead. My crew, dead. The beast I ride on, dead.
See more »


Spun-off from Watchmen (2009) See more »


Pirate Jenny
Written by Marc Blitzstein, Berthold Brecht, and Kurt Weill
Performed by Nina Simone
Courtesy of The Verve Music Group
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

just a terrific animated short film let alone 'companion piece'
27 March 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Tales of the Black Freighter series in the book of Watchmen was linked to the actual plot of Watchmen with merely one line (I won't mention by whom, but it's by one of the main characters, towards the end) that ties into what and why the story is in the book thematically. But on its own the story and art in Tales of the Black Freighter is done in the source like a real old-style pulpy comic with the underlying lines going across the panels, touched up with some really gruesome images and a moral that is about next to none - the guy is sent to damnation. As a short animated film Zack Snyder and his team decided to up the ante on the style, to make it a 2-dimensional stand-alone effort with the translation almost identical to that of the source (save, perhaps, for Snyder's penchant for ridiculous amounts of bloodshed, which are more appropriate here than in the actual Watchmen film).

The animation here is gorgeous, doomed, and totally haunted. It might be considered a horror movie in some moments - the main character is on a beach and ties a bunch of his fallen dead shipmates onto a raft with body parts falling off and gas rising out from the intestines - but it's also about insanity and an unamicable downward spiral. Even having read the book and knowing it was a sad and disgustingly surreal piece of work I was not prepared for how the animation kicked my ass, so to speak. It's a startling expression of a descent into hell, a poetic fever dream done with some striking flashes of color, character, violence, and the whole disjointed but logical mood of the sea itself; when the seagulls and sharks come around it brings some of the most memorably savage bits in recent memory anywhere. Only once or twice did the action feel a little stilted, as animation can sometimes be, but it overall was a kind of minor triumph (Gerard Butler, I should add, also did very well as the voice of the pirate).

21 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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