kottke.org posts about piratesofthecaribbean

Pirates 3 not so bad?Jun 04 2007

Last week's post about the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie hinted that I was having difficulty reconciling its summer blockbusterness (and all the suckiness that usual entails) and the feeling that there was something more to be discovered under the distracting explosions and swordplay. Ryland Walker Knight, writing at The House Next Door, says that Pirates trilogy is a film series worth watching seriously (emphasis mine):

The Caribbean world of Verbinski's trilogy is, after the first film, one of constant shuffling, of tangential narrative ruptures: the world of the film, like the world we audience members live in, is chaotic. Of course, this Caribbean world is not the world we live in. In our world, there are no giant mythological squids or sea goddesses, but there are, however, pirates - and daily acts of piracy. And there are social dictums, social pacts, that we appropriate and reconstitute on an individual basis, to live with ourselves, to live with the world. The main thrust of this trilogy is that reckoning: How will we live in the world when our autonomous freedom is continually challenged?

It's certainly not a stretch to make the connection between the autonomous freedom theme and the US government's recent actions to limit freedoms in the name of fighting the "global war on terror". The Onion AV Club's Noel Murray didn't read that much into it, but he did think it was more than just swashbuckling and gunnery:

No, I'd rather argue that Pirates is not junk. It may be a lousy movie -- I'll accept that argument, even if I more or less disagree -- but it's not just, as Nathan Lee writes in his Village Voice review, "a delivery system for two kinds of special effect: those created by computers, and those generated by Johnny Depp." I believe that a genuine effort to delight -- and not just subdue -- has been made here. The movie contains the same kind of preoccupation with clockwork gags and bad guys accidentally doing good that's been part of The Verbinski Method since Mouse Hunt. Like it or not, Pirates does have a brain, and a soul.

I almost want to go see it again, to watch it not as a blockbuster but as a film that might have a little something to say.

rating: 3.0 stars

Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's EndMay 29 2007

The first paragraph of Dana Stevens' review of the third installment of Pirates of the Caribbean accurately describes my experience seeing the film:

With Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the summer blockbuster begins to approach the level of pure abstraction. Adrift in the windless seas of its 168-minute running time, the viewer passes through confusion and boredom into a state of Buddhist passivity. Swords are crossed, swashes buckled, curses lifted only to descend again. People marry, die, come back to life, transform willy-nilly into barnacle-encrusted ghouls. There are reasons why all this is happening, reasons that might be clear if you've recently pored over the previous 294 minutes of pirate lore. Like all abstract art, At World's End is best approached non-narratively, as an experience rather than a story.

What floored me most was how Verbinski managed to splice in several minutes of surrealist film into a circa-2007 summer blockbuster. The contemporary feel of the scene with Depp in Davy Jones' Locker (the music, white space, the extreme closeups) felt totally out of sync with the rest of the trilogy, but the absurdity of its appearance early in the film helped me surrender to the rest of it and just enjoy the ride.

Disney panicked when they saw Johnny Depp'sJul 20 2006

Disney panicked when they saw Johnny Depp's approach to playing Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, even though it eventually made the film a huge success. "'Look, you hired me to do the gig. If you can't trust me, you can fire me. But I can't change it.' It was a hard thing to say, but fuck it." Didn't work so well for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory though... (via mike)

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