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Past Posting

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Quadrilogy

These theological reflections aboard the Black Pearl have fallen into four chapters of commentary. I had wanted to avoid long readings but this requires a little something different. By “this” I mean the most effective morality play of our times, more effective by far than Peter Jackson’s incarnation of The Lord or the Rings.

Chapter One: Origins of greatness

Marc and Alice Davis are the first in a long line of geniuses who have conspired through recent decades to bring these pirates to life. Marc’s character designs and Alice’s costumes were lifted from the paper through excellent storytelling and a phenomenal application of technology on March 18, 1967. The attention to detail and the use of audio animatronics continue to captivate guests who board the boats in Disney parks around the globe. Both came from the vision of Walt himself and the ‘can-do’ expertise of his design and development team, later known as the Imagineers.

The next generation, raised on the ride, picked up the baton and worthily carried it forward. Certain iconic moments were taken from their small rooms on the dark ride and developed into full pieces of entertainment. I am thinking of the skeleton pirates, the talking skull, the dark plummet, the sand crab, the great schooner, the port-side party, the drunk among the pigs, the dog with the keys and . . . need I go on?! The dead pirates gave rise to the idea of a curse and the inspiration began. There in lies another entry portal. Anytime you play with mortality and immortality you’re ‘at play in the field of the Lord’ (another great movie I hope someday to analyze here). You’ve navigated into the world of theology, and now I’m on board.

While director, Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, impress with their prowess at the helm, it is my opinion that the writers, Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, are the real heroes (like Andrew Adamson, they too are forthwith freed from the punishment otherwise incurred for inflicting Shrek upon our unsuspecting souls). To listen to them, they were flying by the seat of their pants. To watch the result, one gets an entirely different feeling. My favorite installment so far is At World’s End because it moves everything forward and combines complete logic with utter whimsy, formulaic Hollywood with fourth-wall-breaking courage. For example, when making a sequel to a multi-million dollar blockbuster movie, who would dare fill the screen with a totally white background and a close up of a nose with no explanation as to who or why? The peanut doesn’t help a thing either. That’s sheer unadulterated brilliance, says I.

Finally, coming full circle and adding to the ink already spilled on the controversial subject, I was delighted to see how the movies have affected the ride. Jeffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa is the character I enjoy most on screen, so I laughed out load when I heard his gravely voice eating up the watery “ship and port” vignette and saw his face taking piratey pleasure in every repeated minute. Second only to that inspired addition was Davey Jones’ wispy projection through which every sailor passes . . . or does he pass through us?! His voice is so spot on convincing that I’m convinced Bill Nighy actually has tentacles and no lips.

Now, on to the movies.