Bonus treasure ahoy!

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
(directed by Gore Verbinski, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, screenplay by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio; 2003)

I won't bother waxing lyrical over the film itself. Suffice to say that Johnny Depp is magnificent, the supporting cast mostly good, the stunts & special effects among the very best I've seen -- and, most importantly, the script is well-written & entertaining: I was still laughing on my third viewing. If you haven't seen it, then rent/buy the DVD -- you're unlikely to be disappointed.

There's plentiful bonus treasure to reward the purchaser, though much of it is the usual blah. Three or four of the 19 deleted scenes are worth watching. The filming of the storm scenes was the highlight in an otherwise pretty unmemorable 'Making Of' documentary, and you can find out how the Lady Washington (the replica ship which was filmed as the Endeavour) and her real-life crew got from Los Angeles to St Vincent in a mildly interesting video diary.

There are no fewer than four partial or complete commentary tracks. Kiera Knightley (Elizabeth) & Jack Davenport (Norrington) are hilarious together; Jerry Bruckheimer (the producer) is intermittently interesting though a bit over-promotional for my taste; Johnny Depp (Sparrow) & Gore Verbinsky (the director), however, are almost entirely unelucidating, not to mention painfully dull.

There's also a fascinating commentary track by the writers (Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie & Jay Wolpert), which explains how the story evolved from Disney concept to finished film, via several very different drafts by the various writers, and with considerable input from the actors. (It was apparently Johnny Depp who wrote one of my favourite lines, 'Bring me that horizon'.) Elliott & Rossio (who do most of the talking) explain the structure of your basic A&A/romance movie, and discuss how PotC conforms to and differs from that structure. They also talk a bit about character archetypes, eg Barbossa & Sparrow as different ends of the Loki trickster spectrum. No earth-shattering insights, but I found it extremely interesting to hear the writers' take on creating a successful film, and I'm sure it would be of use to anyone contemplating screenwriting.

9 & 30 December 2003