Blackbeard (2006) TV

 

 

Director:    Kevin Connor.

Starring:     Angus Macfadyen (Blackbeard),  Mark Umbers (Lt. Robert Maynard),  Richard Chamberlain (Governor Charles Eden),  Jessica Chastain (Charlotte Ormand),  Stacy Keach (Cpt. Benjamin Hornigold),  Rachel Ward (Sally Dunbar),  Anthony Green (Israel Hands),  Danny Midwinter (Elias Ransom),  Bill Fellows (Dr. Peter Bruce),  Jasper Britton (William Howard),  Jake Curran (Joseph Prescott),  Robert Willox (Snake Leavitt),  Patrick Regis (Thatch),  Alan Shearman (Enoch Sanborn),  Niko Nicotera (Moses Hobbs). 

Lt. Robert Maynard of the Royal navy is sent to Jamaica to end Blackbeard's reign of terror

 

Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.

Part I.  

Royal Navy Headquarters. Portsmouth, England 1717.

Lt. Robert Maynard reports for duty to Admiral Pennington. The Admiral explains that His Majesty needs the sea lanes from Barbados to the South Seas kept clear. His mission will be to find the notorious pirate ship "The Queen Anne’s Revenge" and destroy her. The captain is Benjamin Hornigold who once sailed with Captain Kidd and may even know where he buried his vast treasure. His second in command is a scoundrel named Edward Teach, who calls himself Blackbeard.

His mission is a secret one. He will travel by merchant ship to avoid attention. There is another part of his mission. He will be escorting a minor. The Admiral asks for the minor to come forward. The minor is a lovely young lady, Miss Charlotte Ormand.

The West Indies off the coast of St. Vincent. Queen Anne’s Revenge. The call goes out to Blackbeard of a vessel sighted. Captain Hornigold is called up on deck. Blackbeard thinks the ship is a French slave ship. Hornigold wants to let the slave ship pass on by. But Blackbeard decides to take over from Hornigold and take the French slave ship. The crew takes a vote and most of the pirates are for Teach. They will take the slave ship.

As the pirate ship closes in on the French one, the French flag is lowered on the pirate ship and the pirate’s flag is raised. Grappling hooks are used to bring the two ships very close together. Blackbeard outfights the French Captain, who calls for surrender.

New Providence, Bahamas.

Charlotte and Robert thank each other for a successful and enjoyable voyage. Robert tells her he will escort her to her father’s protection. Charlotte says that Governor Eden is her adoptive father. Governor Eden comes to greet Charlotte. They hug. Charlotte asks the governor to let Robert stay with them and the governor agrees.

Blackbeard makes the French captain walk the plank. When he stays afloat in the water, Blackbeard and his pirates shoot the captain.

The governor’s carriage has to make a forced stop because a tree has been cut down and has fallen across the roadway. Robert goes to check it out and fears a robbery. He has Charlotte get a pistol for her protection. The coach driver is knocked out and a robber opens the carriage door to say he will take the girl. She says: "Oh, no you will not!" and fires her pistol. It slightly wounds the bandit. Robert chases the man and two masked men chase Robert. Robert turns around and sword fights the men. He kills one of the bandits and the other one he lets run away. They go on their way and arrive at the Governor’s Mansion.

Blackbeard’s men throw the dead and wounded off the ship. The pirate doctor saws off a pirate’s wounded leg. Blackbeard finds maps and coins in a chest.

Robert reports to the governor. With the governor is Tobias Knight who is Magistrate and Custom’s Collector of New Providence. Robert says that New Providence is becoming a safe haven for pirates. The governor shakes his head and laughs saying: "Oh, balderdash!" Robert shows him his orders that also say that several warships have been dispatched to the area. Gov. Eden says that they will just be stirring up a hornet’s nest, but Robert persists in the insistence he is here to take on the pirates.

Blackbeard questions Hornigold about Kidd’s treasure. Hornigold says he does not know where it is and Blackbeard stabs the man’s hand with a knife.

Charlotte, Robert, the governor and Mr. Knight sit down for supper. Charlotte tells the governor if he had not pushed her aside, she might have killed the first robber. Robert takes note of this.

Blackbeard forces Hornigold totell him where  reveal the last letter of Captain Kidd to his wife is. Hornigold tells him where the letter is hidden. But Blackbeard has already found the letter and it says nothing about treasure. He lets Hornigold finish his dinner.

Alone the Governor and Knight talk about Charlotte thwarting her own abduction. Eden says she is even more headstrong than when she went away. And that naval officer already has his hooks in Charlotte. And now one of his men is dead and another wounded. Charlotte will turn 21 soon and will be able to claim her inheritance. "Unacceptable," says Knight.

Blackbeard puts Hornigold in a row boat and assigns him two men to row him.

Charlotte takes Robert to her office where she will practice medicine. She is not accredited, but only because women are not allowed to be accredited  in England. She studied under a physician while in England. Charlotte says that her parents’ memory will be kept alive through her work. She will fight the yellow fever that took them with all her strength. They kiss.

Charlotte and her adoptive father dance at a ball at the Governor’s Mansion. The ball is held to celebrate her 21 years of age. She introduces Robert as a hero who saved not only her but the governor. The crowd claps for him. Charlotte and Robert dance.

While they dance and talk, Robert notices Mr. Knight talking with a very shady looking character. He tells Charlotte he must rush off. She gives him her necklace that contains a likeness of her parents on it. Robert sees Knight and the other man get in a coach and drive away. He trades clothes with one of the servants and goes after them on horseback.

Knight talks with Blackbeard’s second-in-command, Israel Hands. Robert is right there to watch all of this. Hands receives money from Knight and then tells the man that it is Mr. Blackbeard who is now the captain. Knight leaves.

Robert knocks against some bottles, giving away his presence. Hands and another pirate grab Robert and take him with them. He is taken to meet Blackbeard. Robert tells Blackbeard that he has been working as a navigator on various ships, but has never been a pirate. He indicates his willingness to become a pirate. One of the men on the ship comes into the bar and Robert has to catch him before he spills the beans. The guy starts to tell everyone who Robert is and Robert hits him hard. This starts a fight that Robert wins.

Blackbeard admires Robert’s fighting ability. And the waitress Sally Dunbar takes a liking to the handsome Robert. Blackbeard and Robert drink together. When he awakens the next morning he is sailing away from port. He tells Hands that he has to return to port. For his protests he gets a lashing.

Charlotte is very upset about the missing Robert. Her servant tries to console her by saying he will soon be back.

Mr. Maynard asks Blackbeard where they are headed. They are headed for treasure, says the pirate. He then shows Robert the fine maps captured from the French. Robert is blown away by the quality of the maps. Blackbeard tells him they are headed for Gardiner’s Island, Long Island Sound.

Charlotte tells her adoptive father that he must sent ships out to find Maynard. The Governor says the man is a scoundrel. He just wants Charlotte’s inheritance.

Blackbeard and his men land to find the treasure. They see holes dug in the sand as if someone were looking for the treasure already. Blackbeard sends a ruffian named Snake along with Maynard They hear a scurrying among the bushes and the pirate fires his weapon. It turns out to be a large lizard of some type.

The shot alerts the people on the island and they get the drop on Maynard and his babysitter. The leader says he is Calico Billy and wants to know their names. Billy says that the men have been sent to rescue them. Blackbeard and his men appear with their weapons drawn. Billy and his two men have to give up and then take the pirates to the little village the survivors have constructed.

Blackbeard has Maynard read Captain Kidd’s letter to see if Blackbeard missed anything in it. While Maynard reads, Blackbeard asks Billy if his real name is John Gardiner. Billy says that Gardiner is dead. But Billy confirms that Captain Kidd was on the island and buried the treasure. Blackbeard calls for Maynard. Meanwhile Maynard found a message hidden in the letter text. It says: "Low tide, hidden cave." Maynard reports to Blackbeard that he has not found anything from the letter.

Mr. Knight comes to see the Governor. Charlotte is outside practicing her shooting. Knight has found out that Maynard was very drunk and was scurried out by pirates. They figure he may be dead already.

The pirates dig along the beach..  Maynard thinks he sees the cave of which Kidd wrote. He goes to Blackbeard and asks him to take the people off Gardiner’s Island in return for his help in finding the treasure. Blackbeard agrees and Maynard shows him where the cave is.

Blackbeard and some of his men go into the cave. They find a chest, open it and discover the gold jewelry within. The doctor tells them to hurry because the tide’s coming in and they could drown. A little later Maynard repeats the warning. One of his men takes a nice piece of jewelry and Blackbeard shoots him dead. Maynard almost gets in a fight with Snake. Blackbeard leaves the black slave behind in the cave saying he bets that his mother never taught him to swim.

Blackbeard arranges a duel between Maynard and Snake. But before the fight starts, Maynard tells Billy that he is a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and his plans for their escape. He also gives Billy a note to to take to Charlotte just in case he should die.

Two pistols are prepared for the duel. But the one given to Maynard is fixed not to fire. In the duel Maynard’s pistol does not fire. He throws the weapon at Snake and they start fighting hand to hand. Blackbeard stops them so they can fight with cutlasses. Maynard kills Snake in the fight.

Charlotte takes the coach to the pirate’s bar. She walks in to talk with Sally Dunbar. Sally tells Charlotte that her man got into a fight and went off with the pirates. She then tells Charlotte to get out of here.

Blackbeard is told that someone took his row boat. He gets his crew up and they jump on their ship to give chase. Maynard and Billy get in the boat and row in the opposite direction. Blackbeard sails for awhile, but realizes that they would have caught the boat already if it was going in this direction. He orders the ship to turn around. They fire a cannon at the boat forcing Maynard to row ashore.

Blackbeard threatens to kill Billy and his wife so Maynard says that Blackbeard’s quarrel is with him not Billy. He tells Blackbeard that he is a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. This makes Blackbeard furious. He doesn’t like being deceived. Blackbeard says he will fix Maynard so that he won’t be able to lie to anyone ever again. Blackbeard puts Maynard ashore on a very small island.

 

Part II.

Robert finds several skeletons on the small island. He writes a letter to Charlotte. Then he builds a raft and sets sail. He is at sea many days before he runs into a boat with four dead men inside. He says some words over them and pushes them into the ocean.

New Providence. Blackbeard and his men come ashore. Charlotte practices medicine. The British soldiers will do nothing to stop the pirate hooligans. The sergeant says the pirates are welcome here in port. But the firing of weapons is not permitted. The sergeant tells Blackbeard about this and he starts a sword fight, in which the sergeant is killed.

The pirates come into the pharmacy/doctor’s office. Charlotte chases them off with her blunderbuss. Blackbeard comes upstairs to see Sally Dunlop.  He wants to see the huge tattoo on her back that is a sign indicating where a treasure is kept. 

Lt. Maynard is found and picked up at sea by a British naval ship. They will be in New Providence within a few days. Robert is happy because there they can pick up the trail of Blackbeard. The Captain of the ship says he can only act against pirates if instructed to do some by the Governor. Robert tells the man that the Governor is deeply involved with the pirates in business dealings. He won’t be issuing any such orders.

Calico Billy arrives at the Governor’s Mansion saying that he has business with his daughter. The Governor comes out and Billy tells him that he has news for Charlotte from her lieutenant. He has a letter from the lieutenant for Charlotte. The Governor wants the letter and will give the man and his family temporary lodging for the night in return for it. Billy gives it to Governor Eden.

Blackbeard speaks with his crew about getting even more treasure. He has a copy of the tattoo on Sally's back indicating where the treasure is located. One of the native people working as a pirate tells Blackbeard that his people know the location as a very bad place with very bad spirits. Mr. Knight arrives to speak with Blackbeard.

Governor Eden reads Robert’s letter. Charlotte comes in saying she thought she heard some noise outside. Just some vagabonds says the Governor. After she leaves, Eden burns the letter.

The next morning Blackbeard arrives to see the Governor who welcomes the pirate. The Governor scolds Blackbeard for killing the sergeant. He tells the pirate he must leave for sea because a British ship is arriving soon. Blackbeard demands a signed document from the two men just in case they try to double-cross him. The two gentlemen object, but Blackbeard insists.

Charlotte has been listening to the three men talk. When Blackbeard is gone she looks through her father’s desk. She asks the servant for the key to a locked drawer. The servant retrieves it.  Charlotte finds something of interest to her.

At her office a naval officer arrives. He says he has a man who needs her assistance. It’s Robert. They embrace and kiss and Charlotte says she knew he would return to her. Charlotte then shows Robert a signed agreement between her father, Mr. Knight and Blackbeard. Now Robert has proof of the Governor’s involvement with the pirates.

The Captain wants authorization from the Governor to chase after Blackbeard. He is shocked when the Governor is curt with him and only says he will take his request under consideration. Billy’s wife rushes out to see Robert. Her husband and the slave Thatch have been accused of killing the sergeant and they are going to be hanged soon.

Robert and Charlotte go to the naval Captain to show him the agreement between the Governor, Knight and Blackbeard. The Captain says he will bring ashore a group of armed sailors.

The two innocent men are put up on the gallows to be hanged. The sailors arrive. Robert cuts the ropes around the men’s necks. He accuses the Governor and Knight of conspiracy with the pirates. The Captain arrives to tell everyone that Eden is no longer their governor. Eden is arrested. Knight tries to shoot the Captain, but the Captain shoots him instead. Charlotte rushes over to kiss and hug Robert.

Blackbeard has been given a head-start. Robert has a plan. He goes into speak with Eden and tells him that Knight did not die. The man is eager to testify against Eden for leniency. His testimony is enough to hang Eden. Robert then tells Eden that he will not hang if he tells them where is Blackbeard sailing to. Eden says: "Vulture Island."

Robert leaves. Charlotte comes in to confront her adoptive father with the fact that he tried to have her killed to gain her inheritance. She slaps him and tells him never to call her "daughter" again.

Charlotte discovers her pharmacist dead with a knife sticking out of his chest. She is then kidnapped by Hands and another pirate. Charlotte’s faithful servant comes to tell Robert that Charlotte was kidnapped. The Captain has to stay on the island to prevent anarchy. So he agrees to put Robert in charge of his ship to chase down Blackbeard.

Blackbeard speaks with Charlotte. She tells him that Lt. Maynard will find and kill him. Blackbeard tells her that the man is dead. He killed him. In the hold the men threaten to rape her. But they take her instead to the doctor who is sick. He asks her to help him.

Blackbeard takes his men ashore. He brings Charlotte with them to doctor anyone who might get hurt. Three skulls on pikes greet the pirates.

Robert prepares the men to land on Vulture Island to engage Blackbeard and his men. Blackbeard’s scout sees a village ahead. It appears to be abandoned. The men sleep at night by a fire. The guard is hit with a poison dart and dies. In the morning they find their guard dead.

A native islander is brought into the encampment as a prisoner. The man claims to be the only survivor of his tribe. Captain Kidd came on the island. The villagers killed most of the pirates, but the pirates left diseases behind which killed everyone, except him.

Robert and two other navy men find one of the pirates on Vulture Island. They make him shout to the other  pirates that the savages are coming. They all run away, permitting Robert to come in and free Charlotte who is tied to a tree. They kiss. The native fellow is dead.

Blackbeard returns to find Charlotte gone. He finds Robert’s naval hat and shouts to Maynard that he is coming for him.

Charlotte tells Robert that she knows where the treasure is hidden. His map was a picture of a vulture crying tears. An island cries from waterfalls and streams. While walking they find the waterfall of the Vulture’s tears. The image on the rock is the same as of Sally’s tattoo. Robert and Charlotte go into the cave to find the treasure. They find it easily because it is not buried, but placed within the cave.

The slave Thatch warns them that Blackbeard is coming. Robert’s men start taking casualties. Charlotte tries to treat a wounded man who dies on her. She is able to kill a pirate trying to kill Robert.

Blackbeard tries a trick. The men move back. Hands pretends to take over from Blackbeard. They know that Thatch is watching them. Blackbeard tells his men that they will let Maynard and his men load the treasure up and then they’ll grab it from them on the high seas.

Thatch tells Robert the pirates have gone. They take a small bit of the treasure from the cave to share with the crew. Blackbeard and his crew follow Maynard’s ship. Robert figures out that there was no mutiny. Mr. Specter, second-in-command, doesn’t want to fight because the British ship is smaller than Blackbeard’s vessel. Maynard insists that they fight.

The fight begins between the two ships. Blackbeard says that they are now helpless with their sails and rigging all shot up. They use their grappling hooks to bring the two ships together. They come aboard. Hiding below is a contingent of armed men. The pirates start to find that the dead bodies on the deck are merely straw men.

The British attack. Robert shoots and wounds Blackbeard in the shoulder. Later they fight one another with swords. Hands is killed. Blackbeard breaks Robert’s blade. As he is about to kill Robert, Robert finds another pistol and shoots Blackbeard again. Blackbeard charges again and Robert pushes him away. He then throws a knife into Blackbeard’s back. Blackbeard won’t give up so Robert thrusts a sword into his belly. He finally cuts off Blackbeard’s head.

When it is all over Robert asks Charlotte to marry him. She accepts, they kiss and the men shout: "Huzzah!"

 

It's an o.k. movie, but pretty predictable.  It's not good for history, but action enthusiasts will like it.  It's got the handsome hero and the beautiful heroine and the awfully bad, bad guy.  And there is a lot of action and excitement.  Frankly, a more historical movie would have been much more interesting, but this film wasn't designed for the more intelligent viewer. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



Historical Background:

 

There is an arc of islands from eastern Puerto Rico to Venezuela:

Virgin Islands

Guadeloupe

Dominica

Martinique

Saint Lucia

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Barbados (west of St. Vincent)

Trinidad

Tobago

 

New Providence is now the most populous island in the Bahamas. It has one of the best sheltered small vessel harbors in the Caribbean.

 

1680 – birth of Edward Thatch (known as Edward Teach and then Blackbeard).

Edward went to sea at an early age.

He served on a British ship in the War of the Spanish Succession which also included Queen Anne's War, privateering in the Spanish West Indies and along the Spanish Main.

1710 – a 300-ton vessel was built by Britain comes into the hands of the French and is called Le Concorde.

1713 – Britain withdrew from the war. Teach, like many other privateers, turned to piracy. He got his first taste of piracy from the pirate Benjamin Hornigold, who was based out of Jamaica..

Hornigold decided to retire after King George I offered the him and Blackbeard pardons. But Blackbeard refused the pardon. Blackbeard took over one of Hornigold's recently captured ships, French slave-ship named Le Concorde and renamed it Queen Anne's Revenge.

1717-1718 – the Queen Anne's Revenge was armed with 40 guns and used to conduct Blackbeard's most significant campaigns..

A year later – the French recapture Le Concorde (Queen Anne's Revenge). They upgrade the ship with the latest technology and increased storage space.

Blackbeard inspired fear in his victims. There is no real evidence that he ever shot anyone, but he certainly intimidated them.

His headquarters in the Bahamas and the Carolinas. He lived on the island of Nassau where he was named the magistrate of the "Privateers Republic".

Legend says that Governor Charles Eden of North Carolina received booty from Teach in return for unofficial protection.

1718 – the Bahamas became a haven for pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard. To restore orderly government, the Bahamas was made a British crown colony in 1718 under the royal governorship of Woodes Rogers. The new governor started the business of suppressing piracy.

Most of the pirates accepted Woodes Rogers’s royal pardons, but not Blackbeard. He left Nassau to avoid meeting with Rogers.

Eden offers Teach an official pardon.

1718 (late May) – Blackbeard blockaded Charleston, South Carolina harbor. He plundered five merchant freighters. He held some prominent people for ransom, which was paid.

Shortly afterward, Blackbeard ran two of his vessels, the Queen Anne's Revenge and Adventure into the ground at Beaufort Inlet. (Some say he did it deliberately.) He then marooned most of his crew.

Blackbeard went to Bath, North Carolina. Here he finally accepted a pardon.

Blackbeard went to Ocracoke Inlet in the last of his four vessels. He wanted to enjoy his loot.

Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia decides to get rid of Blackbeard once and for all.

1718 (November 11) - under Lt. Robert Maynard two hired sloops and crews begin the hunt for Blackbeard.

1718 (November 21) – Maynard finds his man.

1718 (November 22) – Maynard gives chase but his two sloops become grounded. The sloops finally float free and the chase is on again. The smaller sloop is put out of action but Maynard with the larger sloop forces Blackbeard’s ship ashore.

Maynard tells his men to hide and prepare for boarding. Blackbeard seeing the mostly empty deck, boards the ship. And the real fighting begins. In a sword fight between the infamous pirate and Maynard, Maynard was wounded on his fingers. He dropped his sword, grabbed his pistol and wounded Teach. With his sword Abraham Demelt cut Teach's face. Blackbeard eventually died from a loss of blood. Maynard then cut off the pirate’s head and hung it from his bow. (This was gruesome, but it was a requirement if Maynard was to claim his monetary prize of 100 English pounds.)

Teach's head was placed on a pike on the north shore, Hampton River, Virginia, as a warning to other pirates.

 

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