10 Best Boat-Themed Films of the 1990s

By Katy Stickland

The 90s gave us some memorable boat-themed film classics. The Hunt for Red October kept us glued to the screen and there was not a dry eye in the cinema when Titanic came out. But which one is the best film of the 90s? Take our poll and vote for your favourite one!

Wind (1992)

The story of one sailor’s dream to reclaim the greatest sailing trophy of them all – the America’s Cup.

After Will Parker, played by Matthew Modine, fails to lead his American crew to victory against challengers, Australia, he convinces his millionaire backer, Morgan Weld (Cliff Robertson) to finance an experimental yacht.

The boat has been designed by Joe Heisler (Stellan Skarsgard), the new partner of Will’s ex-girlfriend Kate, played by Jennifer Grey.

The film has some fantastic cinematography.

Wonder if Sir Ben Ainslie and the rest of the Land Rover BAR crew have watched it?


White Squall (1996)

A story of survival on board a ship during an ill-fated school sailing trip.

Based on the 1961 sinking of the schooner, Albatross in the Gulf of Mexico, the Ridley Scott-directed film follows Captain Christopher Sheldon, played by Jeff Bridges, at the helm, and his crew of pre school boys.

Captain Sheldon aims to teach the boys fortitude and discipline to his youthful crew of Chuck Gieg (Scott Wolf), Frank Beaumont (Jeremy Sisto),  Gil Martin (Ryan Phillippe) and Dean Preston (Eric Michael Cole).

When caught in a “white squall”, the boys use what they’ve been taught to survive.

The Hunt for the Red October (1990)

This espionage thriller film is based on the best-selling Tom Clancy novel set during the late Cold War era.

Rogue Soviet naval captain, Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) wishes to defect to the United States with his officers and the Soviet Navy’s most advanced nuclear missile submarine – Red October.

Alec Baldwin plays CIA agent, Jack Ryan, who must determine if Ramius’ defection is genuine before the Soviet and America navies go to war.

If you’re looking for all-out action, you’ll need to wait until the last 40-minutes of the film.


The Old Man and the Sea (1999)

Based on the short novel by Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea is a 1999 paint-on-glass-animated short film.

Directed by a Russian animator Aleksandr Petrov, the film pretty much follows the story of the Hemingway classic, as fisherman Santiago struggles to catch and land a giant marlin.

The film won many awards, including the Academy Award for Animated Short Film.


Captain Ron (1992)

A light-hearted comedy about the Harvey family who inherit a yacht once owned by Clark Gable.

Martin Harvey (Martin Short) takes his family to the Caribbean with the purpose of retrieving the Wanderer and selling it.

However, on arrival, he finds the yacht is in a poor state and the family are forced to hire the roguish Captain Ron (Kurt Russell) to sail the boat to Miami.

Along the way they run into pirates and are forced to smuggle, amongst other antics.

Silly, but pretty entertaining in parts. It certainly isn’t highbrow!


1492: The Conquest of Paradise (1992)

Another Ridley Scott-directed film, 1492: Conquest of Paradise is an epic drama about Christopher Columbus (Gérard Depardieu) and his discovery of the New World.

This fictionalised account of Columbus’ voyage is visually stunning, and was shot on location in Costa Rica.

The film also covers the ten years after the discovery of the Americas, and examines the impact European settlers had on the indigenous population, and Columbus’ role .

Replicas of the flagship Santa Maria, the Nina and the Pinto were built for the film, giving the (brief) sailing scenes a sense of authenticity.


Waterworld (1995)

Like Marmite, people either love or hate this Kevin Costner-directed post-apocalyptic science fiction film.

The film is set in a world that is mostly underwater, following the melting of the polar ice caps.

The few humans who have survived live on artificial islands or boats. Some, like the Mariner (Costner), have even developed gills to live in the ocean.

The Mariner sails the earth on his trimaran and reluctantly befriends Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn), who is guardian to Enola (Tina Majorino).

The three are forced to escape the clutches of the Smokers, led by Deacon (Dennis Hopper), who believe that Enola holds the key to finding the mythical Dryland.


Under Siege (1992)

An all out action-thriller set on board a Navy battleship, the USS Missouri, Under Siege is perfect for a bit of escapism.

Ship’s cook Casey Ryback (Steven Seagal), a decorated former Navy SEAL, takes on a group of terrorists led by William Strannix (Tommy Lee Jones).

They infiltrate the USS Misssouri by posing as a rock band, brought in to mark the birthday celebrations of a Captain Adams.

Once on board, the terrorists try to steal the ship’s nuclear arsenal.

Expect to see plenty of things being blown up – bit like Die Hard on the water, but not quite!


Shipwrecked (1990)

An endearing tale of Haakon Haakonsen (Stian Smedstad), who takes a job as a cabin boy aboard a ship in order to support his family.

There, he befriends shipmate Jens (Trond Peter Stamso Munch), who teaches Haakon how to be a sailor.

Midway through the voyage, a stowaway, Mary (Louisa Haigh) is found on board and the two children form a friendship.

When the ship’s captain dies, there is a mutiny on board.

The vessel is subsequently shipwrecked during a violent storm, leaving Haakon and Mary stranded on a desert island.

There are also pirates and the search for buried treasure in this Walt Disney Pictures-produced movie.


Titanic (1997)

No list would be complete without including James Cameron’s epic, Titanic.

While we all know what happens at the end (SPOILER! But the RMS Titanic sinks after hitting an iceberg), the film still has an engaging plot about love across the classes, through the two characters of Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet).

And the portray of the actual sinking of the White Star liner is a great cinematic moment and certainly conveys a sense of the tragedy, which claimed the lives of more than 1,500 people.

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