“You’re off the edge of the map, mate. Here there be monsters.”
Pirates of the Caribbean
…because who doesn’t love some piratical fun once in a while?
Curse of the Black Pearl is the first and best of Disney’s lucrative Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Steeped in vaguely pirate-y mythology, with an appropriately swashbuckling soundtrack and a tale of forbidden(ish) love, it’s a perfect piece of escapism for a Saturday night.
A troupe of pirates attacks the town of Port Royal in the Caribbean, and carry off the governor’s daughter, Elizabeth. The blacksmith William Turner reluctantly joins forces with the devil-may-care pirate Captain Jack Sparrow to get her back.
And, it turns out, the world of piracy is a grey one, in which everyone’s greatest concern is to look out for number one. The last hour of the film is a positive mire of unholy deals, sailing back and forth across the Caribbean sea under the various whims of the characters who manage to seize control of the various ships.
My favourite scene, however, remains that swordfight right at the beginning, between Jack and Will. Now, I’m not usually a fan of battles – guns or swords – but this one is so carefully choreographed, and so cleverly matched to the music, that it’s almost like a dance. Plus it has Orlando Bloom in it.
But since my sailing adventures upon the seas of…the Solent, there are just a couple of things that annoy me, the chief of these being the state of the Black Pearl‘s black sails, which have so many holes in that they are more hole than sail, in fact. This is supposed to be the fastest ship on the sea. There’s no way it can be faster than a purpose-built British Navy ship with, I might add, pristine sails. Simple physics will tell you that. Or even just common sense.
What else? Well, there’s the slightly traumatic bit where a pirate throws a chicken-coop overboard – I think the RSPCA might have something to say about that. And the bit where Elizabeth says, “I didn’t steal the medallion.” Well, actually, you did. Taking something from someone without permission? That’s stealing.
OK, I’m nitpicking here, because I’ve seen it so many times. But as I said at the beginning, it is a brilliant piece of escapism. As long as it remains escapism. It’s important to bear in mind, I think, what the real pirates really were. They weren’t glamorous or swashbuckling or brave or good. (Well, it’s possible they were brave.) They were murderers and terrorists of the worst kind. Let’s just remember that while we watch Johnny Depp swaggering his brilliant way through the Caribbean.