Saw this movie: Pirates of the Caribbean

It’s hard for me to watch movies. Two hours is a long commitment to invest in something that I know in advance will likely irritate me. Also, I find it hard to sit still for that long. Also, by the time I am ready to watch TV in the evenings, it is usually less than two hours to my bedtime, and I hate stopping shows or movies in the middle.

But I was feeling tired and cranky this weekend, so I cancelled most of my plans. On Saturday night, I stayed home with my animals (missing what I bet was a fabulous night of techno music at the Pyramid, but at least my ticket was only $10 so I wasn’t too regretsy) and decided to take a chance on a movie.

I wanted something entertaining and light but not too light—because most comedy movies leave me cold. I cracked open a bottle of wine (and was I ever surprised to see it had a cork instead of a screwtop; I’m drinking classy booze now, apparently!), arranged myself on the couch with pillows and a quilt and some sunflower seeds and my old Brindle Dog, and started scrolling through Netflix to see what might fit the bill.

When Pirates of the Caribbean came up, it reminded me that in the ads I’ve seen over time, I found the character played by Johnny Depp intriguing, and also, I didn’t realise Orlando Bloom was in it as well. So I thought  what the heck, I’d try it. I was a little surprised to see it is from 2003, which shows how far behind I am on movie-watching.

I guess basically the movie was okaaaaay, since I watched it right to the end. Although that might have been the wine. I did like the Captain Jack Sparrow character, and Orlando Bloom is a pleasure to watch in anything. Keira Knightley played Elizabeth Swann, who showed moments of strength and ingenuity and will, but who was basically threatened with sexual violence throughout the entire movie, which certainly detracted from my sense of the movie as comedic. I understand that this is the trope of the fair maiden being rescued and blah blah blah but it burns my ass that the fair maiden has to remain perfectly fair all the time even in the midst of battle and terror, and that she is seldom allowed to be a really effective fighter or planner.

The movie horribly fails the Bechdel Test. There is one main female character, a minor secondary female character (a pirate) who starts out angry and ends up submissive, Elizabeth’s domestic staff, and the brief appearance in one scene of some background female characters who are partiers / prostitutes / not-fair-maidens (depicted as fat, slovenly, drunk, violent, jealous, etc.). No women actually talk to each other except for a couple of hierarchically-informed and brief conversations between Elizabeth Swann and her “staff” which are either about men and love, or men and violence.

There was nothing surprising about the plot, although I did in fact enjoy the portrayal of the Captain Jack Sparrow character. I liked how genderfluid and ambiguous the character was, and how non-conforming to social conventions.

Last night I had dinner with my mom and my brother and when discussing the new events in our lives, I mentioned that I had watched a movie. It went kind of like this:

Me: “Hey, I watched a movie last night.”

Them, surprised: “You watched a movie?”

Me: “Yeah, the whole thing. But maybe that was because the bottle of wine kept me glued to the couch.”

Them, even more surprised: “You were drinking????”

My brother told me that the Jack Sparrow character was loosely based on Keith Richards. I don’t know if he meant that’s how the character was written, or if he meant that was Depp’s interpretation, but I can totally see it.

I doubt I’ll watch the sequels. Sequels are generally not as good as the original, and I wouldn’t even rewatch the original. I didn’t like the threats of sexual violence, the lack of women who were actual agents of their own lives, the trope of rescuing the fair maiden, the portrayal of “bad” people as fat and ugly and stupid and drunk. I didn’t like how boringly predictable the love interest subplot was, and I didn’t like how one-dimensional Elizabeth was.

On the other hand, Orlando Bloom.


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