/ Kleptocracy / (also / Chat /)
Since 2003 Pirates of the Caribbean movies have taken a piratical share of the market. There’s yet another one out now. But Bonnie and I watched our first sample last night. She lasted about ten minutes. I took the DVD and went home with it, where I sampled another twenty minutes. And now I adore it.
I grew up on pirate movies. Bonnie and I watched Eroll Flynn’s Captain Blood only a few months ago. I’d read Pirate Latitudes only a few months before that. Port Royal, Jamaica: posthumous Chrichton. They all take place in Port Royal. (Poor Bonnie thought they were dealing with Port Royal, Nova Scotia (Nova Scotia being a place where she keeps a couple of extra homes, and several extra beaches.)) But I’d never noticed a pirate movie win my heart with anything related to this theme.
The children of civilization instantly recognize the theme beneath all pirate movies, and Westerns: take, take, take. Tell the kids Monday thru Friday that they have to behave, keep their hands to themselves, not lift Jenny’s dress; then on Friday night show Erroll Flynn taking everything, lifting Jenny and her dress, and then, winning the king’s heart by killing Basil Rathbone. The thief-predator-murderer is a prince!
Here, Johnny Depp’s Caribbean pirate, in eyeliner, looks like a plucked rooster, looks like he’s sniffed or injected as many drugs as he’s guzzled, but somehow pirouettes out of every trouble. He goes from sinking ship to dungeon to gallows to sinking ship: against a background of the king’s governor’s commodore thanking the governor’s daughter’s rescuer, none other than, by clapping him in irons and arranging to hang him.
Ah, but the daughter, as a little girl, met a little boy, mid-Caribbean, wearing a pirate medallion. And it turns out that that medallion is what it’s all about: Captain Barbossa is sailing a ghost ship, the Black Pearl, all over the Caribbean to steal back the last of a trunk load of stolen medallions in the belief that until every last medallion is returned to the spirits of the Indians, Mayans, Aztecs, somebody, the undead Barbosa and crew can’t become fully dead: and at last exit this sorry vale.
Kleptocratic values are flaunted, then flouted; then mourned, then hellishly pursued. And we’ll try to re-grow the forests after it’s too late, save the environment once civilization is long-tertiary.
I look forward to the futility of the kleptocracy’s belated attempts to pay me a first installment on my lifetime’s worth of royalties: before even thinking of estimating penalties.
But I shouldn’t be paid first. I shouldn’t get the first apology. Neither should the Inca, nor the Iroquois, nor the Celts. There’s no telling who got stolen from first, whose wound is the oldest.
So, under Barbossa, and Jack Sparrow, we ought to find the resurrected Christ, beat the shit out of him all over again, making last time look like a charity picnic, till he tells us: Who do we owe these apologies, all this gold, to? Now please, God damn God to hell, let us die!
The Black Pearl seems to be the first to them. I bailed out to check online to see what Ebert had to say, if anything. Roger had written that it looked like a cute 90 minute grade B movie wrapped up in 143 minutes of godawful redundancy. But Keira Knightly is so wonderful to look at: even if Roger is entirely right that she’s no where near as effective as she’d been Bending It Like Beckham.
As a kid I joined the world under the spell of Errol Flynns’ duelling. As a young man I fenced a bit myself, and was good enough at it that I believe were I a contemporary of Romeo’s or Tybalt’s I’d have killed several other boy/men before being slain myself. Then in the army, we’d make fun of Flynn’s ineptitude with the epe´e, Rathbone being much the better fencer.
Since then though it’s become painful for me to watch Hollywood swordplay. I get my revenge imagining the directors, the choereographers, the cast … in a real fight, with real swords. Five seconds facing an actual soldier of the past, the soldier wielding a broardsword, and Errol would have understood the term “cuts of meat.”
No, Errol Flynn was actually supposed to be a tough guy. However amateur his sword play, he would have understood the disadvantage of getting your right arm and shoulder and half your chest hewn from your body while trying to fight. The swords of pirate movies were far from broadswords, which, even in the hands of bunglers, could chop a man in half. But the pirate swords could cut, as well as thrust, as well as block, as well as pierce.
A primate’s arms add quite of bit of reach to our ape-wingspan, a sword adds another couple of feet worth.
So how come in the Hollywod sword fighting movies since my childhood, the only damage imagined during conflicts of steel against steel is inflicted by blows of fist on jaw? or elboy on jaw?
These pirates duel, clang, clang, clang, sword hack is blocked by sword block. They can’t hurt each other with their steel-extended primate arms. But one combatant, while close locked, sword to sword, manages to hand a fist against jaw!
Mark Twain mocked James Fennimore Cooper’s imagined frontier combats. Some Cooper oeuvre has a colonist family living on a raft on Lake Glimmerglass. The raft visits a side creek. The raft, large enough for the father and his two daughters, and the Tintoretto hanging over the couch, passes under a tree. The tree on the bank has a branch that completely canopies the raft in its progress. Hiding on the branch are a half dozen Indians: allies of the wicked French. The raft passes under the branch. The raft must be at least forty feet long to house this family with its European treasures. Twain calculates how long the Indians have to drop onto the deck. The first Indian drops, and misses! The second Indian drops, and misses! The third … Finally, the last Indian is the chief. The raft has now passed completely under the branch, the raft is disappearing along the stream. (How is this raft powered? Who’s poling it? Does it have a Mercury 180 HP?) But the chief catches hold of the stern transom! Is hanging on!
Cooper (and his peers) write for Disney / Hollywood; not Twain.
Imagine firing out best missile at Moscow, and missing! then firing our second best missle, one with a range of 3,000 miles, and missing … and finaly firing our dud missile, with a range of spiting up on moma’s blouse, and hitting Moscow bulls eye!
That’s Hollywood. That’s Disney.
Remember: it’s at Disney where visitors from Iran, from China, from Nairobi, stand and listen to a tall cyborg in a stove pipe hat tell how the Union smiting the Confederacy made the world the place it is, where n-s can pay money to listen to bullshit.
[Bowdlerizing K., 2016 08 06, euphemizing the most popularly offensive words, so ironic for the freedom guy]