Friday, 14 December 2007

Live and Die a Pirate King?

Just saw the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie the other day - yes, I have no life.

Now, with Owen going through an extended pirate phase, I'm pretty up on pirate lore and the like. It doesn't take a lot of profound thought to notice that pirates are into treasure. Lots of it, actually.

But not, it seems, in the Caribbean. There's even a joke about it in the last film, when a plot device ('the nine pieces of eight') turns out to refer to nine pieces of rubbish, rather than anything of value.

But the third film also tipped its hand toward the end, when Geoffrey Rush made reference to there being 'other ways to live forever'. I'm slow. It's obvious. All three films have had little or no concern for treasure; in fact, hardly any instances of anything vaguely resembling a fiscal transaction. But they're all about living for eternity: whether it's the cursed treasure from the first film that locks Barbosa and his crew in an undead phase, or Davy Jones' Flying Dutchman and its crew, or the ontological necessity that the Dutchman have a captain whose heart has been surgically removed for storage (though I had the impression that the reason for this changed between films 2 and 3), or finally, the 'fountain of youth' that Rush and Depp are vying for as the credits roll on the last film.

Ok, so everlasting fame and glory is part of the piracy mythos, but this is the first time I can think of that eschatology has come into it.

Interesting too, that it's transactional. To live forever, you have to pay a price: look pretty ugly by daylight; look fishy all the time; lock your heart in a box; spend a decade at sea ferrying the dead, with only one day ashore at the end of it; and so on. A fairly bleak view of eternal life, that's for sure. Indeed, the message of the films seems to be fairly hedonistic - live for the moment, as exemplified in Keira's fate.

Crime doesn't pay, after all!

1 comment:

byron smith said...

Isn't this then a metaphor for pirates themselves? They achieve eternal life (or at least some lasting notoriety) at the expense of being remembered as 'ugly' villains. Or perhaps at the expense of having to 'star' in films like Pirates of the Carribean...

That said, Muppet Treasure Island is one of the best films I've seen in a while.