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I am nearly fifty years old. A sober grown man. With children. Children
with whom I have now sat through hundreds of movies. Many of which I
have enjoyed. And I am not completely hardened in my sophistication.
The opening music to The Lion King brought tears to my eyes when my
little ones were but wee tots. But still, these are after all just
children's movies. In another life, I would never have seen them. And,
really, one can't take such movies too seriously, can one?
And so, this summer, after the ritual badgering, I dutifully trudged
into yet another Disney "adventure" movie. Named after that tired old
ride in Anaheim I first went on in 1965. I mean really, how much can
And then, it happened. The swirling intoxication. The stunned feeling.
What? Who? How? Was this a movie? Or a religious experience? Perhaps
more like an addictive experience...
I cannot remember ever willingly paying to see any movie not starring a
relative of mine more than twice, and I can count those movies on one
hand. I have now seen "Pirates" four times. The only thing keeping me
from seeing it again is the sense that this whole thing is just getting
out of hand. I cannot get enough of it. It's like walking into a
painting that you never want to come back out of. My children ask, with
a note of concern in their voices, "Dad, you really like Pirates of the
Caribbean a lot, don't you?"
And that Depp fellow. My God. I never had any idea who he was, but his
name sounded like something created for a pubescent cover-boy for
magazines published to hook thirteen year-old girls on make-up and bad
music. Wasn't Depp the name of some hair-goo product back in the 60s?
I am a straight male. I have several good friends who are gay, but have
never fantasized about any gender but the female. But now I understand
how women can experience swooning crushes on male film stars. He is
simply extraordinary. So sly, so seductive, so canny! I read an
interview in which Depp said he went through a slight depression when
he had to stop playing Captain Jack Sparrow. I can see why. His
inventiveness and sheer pleasure in inhabiting the character come
through in every frame. How can I admit to my children that I now troll
through fan websites about a former teen heart-throb?
I often don't even watch the Academy Awards, and I certainly never have
any emotional investment in who wins.
Except for this year.
And, in a time when many big-budget movies are little more than a
hodge-podge of loosely- connected "money shots" this movie puts all the
pieces together, with a sense of fun and light-heartedness in special
effects that are simply dazzling. I find myself laughing with dizzy
appreciation when Barbossa barks out, "You'd best be believing in ghost
stories, Miss Turner, you're in one!" and the grinning skeletons come
into view, with Badelt's pounding score keeping time to the beat of
their maniacal deck-swabbing. And then there's the scene of the
pirate-ghouls slithering up from the darkened sea on the mooring cables
of the Dauntless, like infernal cats stalking their prey.
And now to the music. I can just hear the effete aesthetes dismissing
this score, as Mr. Zimmerman anticipates with his winking "overproduced
by" credit on the cover-liner. "Bombastic." "Overdone." "Absurdly
Well, perhaps it is, for those who spend their lives evaluating such
things. To me, it is absolutely transporting. I first listened to it
while doing a work-out on a rowing machine and found that I tripled my
usual distance. It was like mainlining some hazardous tachycardic
Once again, the children were wondering, "What's up with Daddy? Is he
Perhaps I am just losing my grip, having an adolescent movie get to me
this way. But when those final credits roll, and Captain Jack narrows
his eyes and says, "Now, bring me that horizon. Drink up me hearties,
yo ho" and the music swells ... it is difficult to put into words the
effect it has.
At this point my children have to yank me forcibly from the theater,
lest I persist in watching the credits to the bitter end, and bid
good-bye to the little monkey once more, wiping tears of exultation
from my eyes.
This is not just another "entry" in the summer blockbust sweepstakes.
It is an exquisite work of fantasy and inventiveness, a true classic,
on the order of "The Wizard of Oz." I do hope Depp's performance
garners not just awards, but a place in the pantheon, something we old
fogies -- and our gently fogeying children decades hence -- will show
to our children and grandchildren like a revealed treasure. I cannot
recall any movie having such an effect on me.
Tags for Pirates of the Caribbean Curse of the Black Pearl Full Movie
, Johnny Depp
, Keira Knightley
, Orlando Bloom
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