Ruminations Episode VII Show Notes

The Curse of the Black Pearl

  • This video explains some of the behind the scenes history of the making of The Curse of the Black Pearl, especially the comical short sightedness of Disney’s former CEO, Michael Eisner.
  • Johnny Depp received an Oscar nomination for his role of Jack Sparrow, ultimately losing to Sean Penn for Mystic River. In 2018, Depp received the exact opposite honor when he was nominated for a Golden Raspberry for his (final?) performance of Jack in Dead Men Tell No Tales.
  • Wikipedia has a good breakdown of how Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt split the work for the score of the first Pirates film. Long story short: Zimmer couldn’t focus on the score because he was busy composing for The Last Samurai, so he passed the work onto Badelt. However, he still managed to compose most of the main cues with Badelt. Because the schedule was so rushed, seven other composers had to contribute orchestrations and cues, including Game of Thrones’ Ramin Djawadi and Arrow/The Flash‘s Blake NeelyThe most famous track, “He’s a Pirate,” sounds like it was lifted verbatim from Zimmer’s Gladiator track, “The Battle.”

Dead Man’s Chest

  • Here is an EW article from 2006 about the state-of-the-art special effects that transformed Bill Nighy into a walking squid monster with pouty lips and and a tentacle beard.
  • The eerie organ music played by Davy Jones also serves as the villain’s leitmotif.
  • Hello, beastie“: Jack is first “seduced” by Elizabeth in a ploy to save the crew before facing the Kraken in the epic climax of Dead Man’s Chest. Jack’s epic and sudden death leads directly to the twist that occurs in the movie’s final seconds and sets up the plot of Pirates 3.
  • The only foreshadowing of Barbossa’s shocking return at movie’s end is a quick shot of boots when Jack the Undead Monkey runs to a back room in Tia Dalma’s (think I got that right!) voodoo shop.

At World’s End

  • Chris’ theory behind Lord Cutler Beckett’s motivation has credibility, at least in the fan community. Here is one fan’s similar thoughts on a Pirates fan forum.
  • One of the most iconic scenes in the entire franchise is the death of Beckett. His slow-motion walk through utter destruction has become a meme, as it uncannily mirrors how we all feel going through our chaotic lives.
  • Johnny Depp famously based many of his mannerisms for Jack on The Rolling Stones’ legendary guitarist Keith Richards, who makes his own appearance as Jack’s father and Keeper of the Pirate Code, Captain Teague. According to Bill Nighy, Richards was so drunk on set that director Gore Verbinski had to hold his legs to keep them from shaking during one of his scenes. (Not sure how true this is, but it’s a great anecdote.)
  • We forgot to mention Hans Zimmer’s sampling of Ennio Morricone’s famous “Man With the Harmonica” theme from Once Upon a Time in the West as the three pirate lords (Elizabeth, Barbossa, and Jack) face off against Will and the two villains with whom he’s temporarily aligned himself: Beckett and Davy Jones.
  • I love the end love scene between Will and Elizabeth–the imagery of the crossed swords, their chemistry, the music–but never got a chance to mention it in the podcast. Chills.

On Stranger Tides

  • Here is Ian McShane’s introduction as the intimidating Blackbeard, which puts an end to Jack’s short-lived mutiny aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge.
  • The late Richard Griffiths is so good at playing odious characters, and the disgusted way in which his King George II utters “A Catholic!” oozes contempt. This proud Protestant king will be damned if those papists achieve eternal life! (Insert eye roll gif here.) Speaking of Catholics, you could tell all three of us loved–LOVED–the reaction of the Spanish to the Fountain of Youth upon their arrival. Way back in 2011, my jaw hit the sticky movie theater floor as the Spanish soldiers unabashedly demolished the “pagan temple” with pious efficiency.
  • Barbossa looks pretty damn cool as a long-wigged privateer, but the greatest update his wardrobe received is a peg leg complete with a bottle of rum for emergencies.
  • It’s a shame Penelope Cruz wasn’t asked to return for Pirates 5 (even though her real-life husband, Javier Bardem, played that film’s villain). The last we ever saw of her was when Jack marooned her on an island (and the exact place his voodoo doll ended up, as seen by the end-of-credits scene).

Dead Men Tell No Tales

  • The first half hour of Dead Men Tell No Tales is a bit dull. After an exciting prologue that briefly brought back a cursed Will Turner, the movie gets bogged down in absurd stunts like a chase scene featuring a house, a foggier, dumber Jack, and a bunch of woke “Yeah, science!” references. There is also a very odd Paul McCartney cameo as Jack’s Uncle Jack (who is presumably the brother of fellow musical legend Keith Richards’ character, Captain Teague). However, the attempted execution scene that brings Jack in contact with the two protagonists of the movie, Will and Elizabeth’s son Henry and Barbossa’s daughter Carina, is hysterical. It’s absurd but in all the good ways that previous set pieces in the earlier movies were absurd.
  • Then again, a later scene featured literal jumping (zombie) sharks.
  • As Jack regresses in his character development and is a shell of his former self, Barbossa has received yet another upgrade, here in all his opulent pirate glory as captain of the Queen Anne’s Revenge and a whole pirate fleet.
  • We joked about Will Turner’s Davy Jones powers transferring to Legolas in The Hobbit. If you haven’t seen this clip of Legolas running up air in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, WATCH IT NOW. It’s the worst thing ever made.
  • The ending of DMTNT is its most satisfying part: Will and Elizabeth return and finally get a happy ending! (But then there’s the end credits scene that shows how maybe Will hasn’t escaped fate just yet…) 
  • The Johnny Depp Rolling Stone article from June 2018 needs to be experienced without any more of my editorializing. Read it please. I also talked about the article on Episode 8 of The Substandard EU Podcast back in October 2018.
  • Will there be a Pirates of the Caribbean 6? No one seems to know. After DMTNT grossed $794 billion (though this was on a $230 million budget), a sixth movie was green-lit . Then came allegations of abuse and erratic behavior against Depp. J.K Rowling and the Harry Potter producers refused to replace him in the Fantastic Beasts series, where he’s currently portraying Grindelwald, the Ur-Voldemort, but in October 2018, Disney decided to part ways, turning 6 into a reboot rather than a sequel. They would also save $90 million dollars by dropping their megastar. However, with additional reports that the writers have also left, it now looks like 6 has been canceled. (We’re all shaking ours fists at the sky.) Whatever the case may be, a recent petition gathered over 20,000 signatures begging The Mouse to keep Jack Sparrow in the franchise if it were to return.

Black Sails, Treasure Island, & real piracy

  • STARZ’s Black Sails serves as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, featuring the characters Long John Silver, Billy Bones, and Captain Flint in addition to real pirates such as Charles Vane, Calico Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, and Blackbeard . It looks beautiful. It’s acted well. It’s just, well… dull. Just like Treasure Island, as Chris can attest.
  • Chris finished The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard while I read about three-fourths of it. The book covers the pirates that ran Nassau in the late 1710s, particularly Blackbeard, Charles Vane, and Sam Bellamy. The real Blackbeard, Edward Teach, was a lot more civil and reasonable than his reputation in pop culture suggests. On the other hand, Charles Vane, (who is much lesser known) seems to be a much better inspiration for brutal and cruel image that most people have when they think of pirates. Black Sam Bellamy died off the coast of Massachusetts in a storm, which ties directly into:
  • The New England Pirate Museum, which is located in Salem, MA. We can’t recommend it enough! We had no idea pirates traveled that far north! 
  • Our favorite bar of all time resides in the real life Tortuga of America, New Orleans. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Tavern in the French Quarter has all the charm and atmosphere that anyone could ever want from a bar formerly owned by a pirate: Jean Lafitte, one of the heroes of the Battle of New Orleans.
  • This video highlights the differences between the two versions of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom.


  • Captain Morgan 1671 (The Curse of the Black Pearl): It is by far our favorite rum. Ever. There is only a limited supply so drink cautiously!
  • The Kraken Black Spiced Rum (Dead Man’s Chest): Out of all the rum pairings considered, this was clearly the obvious choice as Davy Jones’ pet kraken plays such a crucial role in the film’s narrative. The rum itself comes in two varieties, 70 proof and 94 proof. We recommend the 94 proof. Cut its bite with some ice!
  • Captain Morgan Private Stock (At World’s End): This $25 bottle is marketed as the Captain’s private reserve of rum, which fits nicely with the convening of the Brethren Court at Shipwreck Cove. Private Stock comes in a beautiful bottle and is probably the smoothest middle-shelf rum you can find in most liquor stores.
  • Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum (On Stranger Tides): Another fairly obvious choice as Blackbeard is the movie’s villain, this rum is Captain Morgan’s answer to the popularity of Kraken.
  • Pusser’s British Navy Rum is the funky* rum mentioned by Chris that is based on the historical recipe of the rum rations given out to members of the Royal Navy. This tradition of over 300 years ended on July 31st, 1970 (“Black Tot Day”) when the Royal Navy doled out their final rations of rum. (*Funk is a term used to describe the consistency and taste of certain rums.)
  • Diplomatico Rum Reserva Exclusiva is a smooth, sweet rum from Venezuela. It is slightly more expensive than the others listed (about $37 compared to $20-25) but well worth the money.

Image credit: Composite image/FLIPP

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