Episode 3 of our “Best YouTube Documentaries” series features a documentary titled “Thomas Cochrane: Craziest Sea Captain in History” by the fantastic “Kings And Generals” channel. The video runs 1 hour & 17 minutes and does include less than 2 minutes of advertising at the very beginning. The video covers the entire life of Thomas Cochrane, who was featured in the movie “Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World” (Starring Russell Crowe). If you’ve seen that movie, you’ll know Thomas Cochrane was in interesting captain, but the Hollywood film doesn’t even scratch the surface. This Documentary left me wondering why Hollywood didn’t make that film into a franchise. In this review, we’ll cover Kings and Generals video style, cover some of the highlights of the film, and provide a couple of ways to watch.
If you’re not used to the “Kings and Generals” narration and animation style, you may initially misjudge the entertainment (and educational) value of their videos. The 3d stills, maps, timelines, and animations give your brain some extra context, especially in a story that literally circles the globe. The narration is great and writing is fantastic, and the format is one that’s very similar to an audio book, in that it it spurs the imagination, but also gives your eyes a starting point for the visuals.
This story begins with Thomas Cochrane being born in 1775, in Scotland, to a military family. The story does a great job of concisely delving into his upbringing and early adult life in a way that justifies his seemingly arrogant and insubordinate attitude. As the story unfolds, Cochrane transforms from what appears to be a young arrogant punk, into a skillful naval strategist. Each chapter of his life seems to reveal more about his natural ability to know what his enemies will do, and always being 2 steps ahead. When those skills don’t work, he uses his people skills to bluff and bargain his way to victory. In the end, he builds quite the reputation for winning. His reputation is so big that countries around the world hire him to win their wars for him. Cochrane winds up being involved in hundreds of battles and dozens of wars. He beat the likes of Napoleon, personally fought battles on several continents, and liberated the majority of south America. All throughout, he displayed the skills of a spy, a master negotiator, a magician, a Navy Seal, and obviously, one of the best naval captains of all time.
I haven’t yet spoiled the story, so I’ll stop here before telling you how it ends. When I finished watching this documentary, I immediately wanted to know more about each battle and each chapter in Cochrane’s life. That feeling is the hallmark of having experienced a great story being told by a great story teller. I hope that this documentary will inspire more adults and teens to realize that history can be even more entertaining than a Hollywood film. I hope you find the time to watch it all, and I’d love to hear your comments. (Link to the video below)