Set-Report Pirates of the Caribbean Widescreen (Germany), August 2003
by Armin Lenz
translated by Marny
theme-park attraction is made into a movie. Widescreen was allowed behind the
scenes of a promising pirate adventure.
of the shooting of Disney's great summer spectacle is finished and a noticeable
smell of chlorine is waving across the parking lot of
the studios in Burbank, Ca. Inside, millions of litres of greenish water swash
through an artificial lagoon 1.5 metres deep and disappear into a labyrinth of
dreary, stalactite covered caves.
Rush is sitting on top of a mound of overflowing treasure chests which are in
danger of collapse. Gold coins and pearl necklaces glimmer and sparkle next to
other valuable booty which Captain Barbossa - the name of his movie character -
must have accumulated in his long lawless life.
your plan, Jack?", he demands to know and pushes his cutlass in the
direction of acting colleague Johnny Depp. "You cannot kill me and I
cannot kill you!"
shooting in St. Vincent is still impending, but Pirates of the Caribbean has
already a prominent anchorage in Disney's summerly movie fleet. Analysts
believe they smell a hit. Johnny Depp and the young English actress Keira
Knightley star together with Geoffrey Rush and Orlando Bloom. The latter is
remembered by moviefans as Legolas in Lord of the Rings. Producer Jerry
Bruckheimer promises a classic high seas adventure fitted for today's viewing
habits. The script is from the same team which received an Oscar-nomination for
In addition there are multiple galleons in full-scale, stunning special effects
by ILM and -as we could see for ourselves - some of the most impressive
settings ever made by a movie studio.
has a bit of everything", Bruckheimer enthuses, " a great story about
good and bad, great action, romance and these incredible special effects!"
part of the sentence is a saying I can't translate, sorry] Jerry Bruckheimer is
presumably the most successful producer commercially and has a long list of
box-office hits with movies like Flashdance or Pear Harbor. One can assume
he has a grasp for potential hits.
also the guy who mostly invented modern action movies. Whether it's Top Gun,
Hills Cop, The Rock, Crimson Tide or Armageddon
- the list is endless - Bruckheimer stands for milestones. Special effects,
bigger and better explosions, soundtracks which let cinema seats quake and
mostly very healthy box-office results are his trademark. Pirates of the Caribbean seems
to follow this tradition.
even Bruckheimer confesses that he had doubts when Disney presented him with
the idea. A movie based on the Disneyland ride "Pirates of the
Caribbean"? That smelled more like corporate group marketing than a
creative inspiration. But the script by Shrek-authors Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio
aroused his interest. The two of them had unsuccessfully tried to convince
Disney about the idea ten years ago.
Bruckheimer was pleased with their ability to combine the intelligent humour of
with the mysterious story of a roving gang of undead pirates who turn into
skeletons in the moonlight.
conception of the authours attracted director Gore Verbinski. He had just
finished filming Ring and knew how to enthuse an audience.
movie has sword fights, ships, high sea battles, everything you expect of a
good pirate movie", Bruckheimer says, "add to this this special
element which might be a bit darker than usual. This is a movie kids will love,
but is has something for the whole family."
Lord of the Rings
rising star Orlando Bloom plays what he calls the
"earnest young man" of the movie. He seems to embody the unbridled
enthusiasm of the cast when he tells of his casting: "All I said was
'Where do I sign?'", he laughs. "I mean, isn't it the dream of every
little boy to be a pirate? Then I got the script and I could see that it was a
great character and that the movie would be a full-blown action adventure. The
producer should be Jerry Bruckheimer who produced movies like Top Gun so
it was clear to me that there wouldn't be any expenses spared to make it
spectacular, authentic and funny. And then there was Johnny Depp, " Bloom
says, "to work with him was very tempting." Depp himself says that it
was an easy decision to do Pirates of the Caribbean.
always liked pirate movies", he says, "and I thought this could be
funny and entertaining without selling myself. I imagined it would be great to
make a movie my kids could watch and enjoy. You know, I like Disney movies and
when you have a three-and-a-half year old daughter, you watch a lot of Disney
who plays audacious captain Jack Sparrow, looks very much like a pirate. His
shirt is unbuttoned, his hair falls into his eyes and he has pearls in his
beard. He never looked so dangerously good, he even has a couple of gold teeth.
Obviously he thought a lot about his movie character.
a guy who's probably sailed around the world two or three times and swiped some
souvenirs everywhere", he explains. "He ties his hair with a
hair-band, he braids pearls in his beard and puts another ring on his finger. I
decided that pirates were the rockstars of their time. They stand for total
freedom, uninhibitedness, chaos, fun, destruction and whatever happens,
prepare for their characters Depp, Bloom and other members of the cast had to
go to "pirate school" for a few weeks before production started. They
were trained by the same fencing coach who trained Errol Flynn in the Golden
Age of Hollywood and who in the meantime is over 80 years old.
who on this day celebrated his 26th birthday, watched some Errol-Flynn-movies
in preparation. He even took the time to learn the basics of sailing for a
scene in which he and Depp steal a galleon. But he worried the most about
is one situation in the movie where I fight with Johnny Depp's character",
he explains, "and he says 'Oh, you are really good with the blade' and I
say 'Well, I train for three hours a day'. So I had no choice. I had to become
really good to be believable."
want a sword, too, but I'm not getting one", complains Keira Knightley,
the young English actress who plays the female lead in the movie. Her friends
at home always called during the shooting to find out if Johnny Depp is in fact
as wonderful as they assumed. "In truth, all of my girlfriends are
hopelessly in love with him", Knightley says. She then explains that
although the character she plays is not allowed to have a sword, she's
nevertheless not one of the usual girls who desperately wait to be rescued.
some kind of modern girl stuck in the world of the 18th century", says
Knightely and adds that she spent the biggest part of the day with
"throwing pirates overboard". She has the bruises to proof it.
Together with Depp and other cast members Knightley contributes to fight
Geoffrey Rush and his cursed pirate gang on the screen. The scenes, in which
real human beings turn into computer generated skeletons whenever they are
touched by moonlight, made great demands on everyone involved.
other day", Knightley recounts, "we shot a scene in which I fight
some pirates with a big stick. After some takes they told me I had to do it
without the pirates. After a while I had to do it without the stick, so I fight
no-one with nothing and I have to react accordingly. And I thought the whole
time: Why didn't you pay attention in pantomime class?"
the time of the visit to the set, six weeks of shooting remained. The work on
the final cut and the insertion of the special effects will certainly keep the
moviemakers busy until shortly before the movie release. But with the exception
of a little fire in the first week of shooting producer Jerry Bruckheimer can't
remember a production which went smoother.
think what really makes the job of a producer is: to take the audience to a
place where it has never been before", Bruckheimer says, "Pirates of
the Caribbean will be something you have never seen before like
will definitely be spectacular, Knightley adds. She admits that she as a
newcomer to big studio productions is still amazed by the great effort the
moviemakers make. "I guess that's Hollywood", she shrugs, " you
can blow up a ship if you have to."
Depp says that even his three-and-a-half-year old daughter Lily, who has been
"a little bit shocked" when she saw her dad for the first time in his
pirate costume, now has a positive
opinion. "She likes the dreadlocks."
Speaking of Depp, he admits he rarely had so
much fun like he had as a pirate. "It is something I have been preparing
for my whole life", he grins.