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THE LOST PIRATE KINGDOM Is Unnecessary, Excessive, Explicit

Photo via Netflix

THE LOST PIRATE KINGDOM Is Unnecessary, Excessive, Explicit

By Movieguide® Contributor

THE LOST PIRATE KINGDOM is a NETFLIX original docuseries written by David McNab and Patrick Dickinson. It is directed by Stan Griffin, Justin Rickett, and Patrick Dickinson, narrated by Derek Jacobi, and stars James Oliver Wheatley, Sam Callis, Tom Padley, Evan Milton, Miles Yekinni, and Mia Tomlinson. By using reenactments accompanied by historians’ expertise on the subject, this historical drama follows the rise and fall of the Age of Piracy and the truth behind the legend of the world’s most infamous pirates. 

The series begins in 1715, just after the War of the Spanish Succession, the 13-year war between Spain and England fought mostly in the Caribbean. Because she could not afford to fund a full-scale Navy, Britain hired privateers, individuals and ships who engaged in maritime warfare, specifically the plundering of enemy ships. In return for their service, Britain allowed privateers to keep and resell the plunder they confiscated. However, when the war was over, Britain no longer sanctioned privateering, leaving hundreds of sailors without a livelihood.

Benjamin Hornigold, the captain of a privateering vessel, came up with a solution. He decided to start a Pirate Republic, independent of British rule, in Nassau, Bahamas. This provided him and his followers the ability to live by the laws of the sea and plunder without British consent. As word reached newspapers around the world of the success of these men now known as pirates, people from both Britain and the New World flocked to join them. These pirates had no qualms attacking any ships including those of the British slave trade. As the Age of Piracy boomed, England’s businessmen got increasingly angered by the disruption of their trade routes and the plundering of their ships and cargo. As a result, they hired a seaman, Woodes Rodgers, to put a stop to the pirate attacks. Rodgers waged war on infamous pirates such as Blackbeard, Samuel Bellamy, Paul Graves Williams, and Anne Bonny, a struggle that ultimately lead to the fall of Nassau, the Pirate Republic, and the Golden Age of Piracy. 

THE LOST PIRATE KINGDOM reflects the materialistic worldview held by 18th-century pirates. Throughout the docuseries, viewers are exposed to a godless society set on gaining wealth through theft regardless of the consequences this causes others. Other earthly pleasures such as sexual gratification and intoxication are shown as being widely valued by members of the Pirate Republic. Additionally, members of British society reflect this materialistic worldview. Government representatives bend rules and manipulate laws to gain wealth while British merchants only value money gained at the hand of the slave trade.

While most of THE LOST PIRATE KINGDOM emulates immoral values and actions, there are some positive moral values shown throughout the docuseries. Some pirates refuse to kill anyone, actively free slaves, and show patriotism for their homeland by refusing to plunder ships flying their nation’s flag. The Pirate Republic also values democracy and racial equality, a concept that at the time was unimaginable. 

While THE LOST PIRATE KINGDOM does a quality job exposing the less than glamorous reality behind the legend of piracy, the reenactments are filled with unnecessary violence, sexual immorality, and profanity. There are regular action scenes where fighting with swords, knives, fists, and sticks are seen. Several murders take place in varying fashions including hanging, decapitation (the severed head is shown), and suffocation. One character is portrayed as a sociopath who is shown torturing and threatening people regularly throughout the series. In one instance he even engages in self-harm, cutting his nose with his knife to intimidate one of his victims.

There are a few instances of mild sexual violence including a man physically harassing a prostitute and another slapping one across the face when she asks for payment.  Prostitution is prevalent in every episode and references to it are usually accompanied by graphic reenactments of various, sometimes unconventional, sexual actions. These reenactments are regularly accompanied by upper female nudity. There are also a few instances of rear male nudity and one non-sexual instance of full male frontal nudity. References are also made to incest, child molestation, and male homosexual actions. A man gets syphilis, and a woman has a baby out of wedlock. There is a large amount of profanity including regular uses of the “f” word and several different derogatory terms. The Lord’s name is also taken in vain. Pirates are regularly shown drinking and smoking in taverns and are sometimes over-intoxicated.

Unfortunately, while the idea for this series was honorable, the execution was less than superb. Viewers will gain some insight into the historically accurate reality of piracy, however, they will be exposed to a world of unnecessary visual content. While it is understandable that to talk about the history of piracy one must talk about the violence, prostitution, and excessive immorality that composed most of that history, it does not need to be visually displayed in such an explicit manner. Along with being unnecessary, many reenacted scenes are often seen more than once making the series repetitive, slow, and sometimes hard to follow. 

 While THE LOST PIRATE KINGDOM does have some historical value, it is still jam-packed full of unnecessary violence, nudity, immorality, and worldview problems that make the show unworthy of watching. For these reasons, Movieguide® finds the series to be excessive.