In the western world, the myth and imagery of a pirate is a specific one. We may conjure up the image of Tyrone Power in one of the swashbuckling action films from the days of old Hollywood or Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. A woman, especially a woman of color is not usually what we picture.
Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas, by Laura Sook Duncombe was published in 2019. In the book, Duncombe breaks through the idea of who and what we think a pirate is. She takes the reader through history, introducing them to female privateers who they may or may not have heard of. Using both proved historical facts and legends that have been circulating throughout the centuries, she tells the stories of women who broke the mold, but have not been given their place in the historical spotlight.
This book is fabulous. Though these women are few in number compared to male pirates, their contribution cannot be overlooked. What Duncombe does well is differentiate fact from fiction, pointing out where history ends and folklore begins. She also makes a very point in linking the actions of these women to the modern feminist movement.
The people in Hollywood know a good thing when they see it. In 2003, when Pirates Of The Carribean: Curse Of The Black Pearl was released, it was a massive success. That gave movie makers the green light to continue with the franchise. The problem is (as it is if often the case with most sequels) that as each consecutive movie was released, the reviews were not so full of praise and the audiences began to stay away.
Such is the case with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011). Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) are out of the picture. Making strange bedfellows/pirate odd couple are Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Their quest is locate the fountain of youth. But they are not the only ones who are eager to locate the legendary fountain. Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his daughter Angelica (Penelope Cruz) are also on the same path. It’s not just a question of who will reach the fountain first, it’s a question of will the past and relationship that Jack had with Angelica come back to bite him in the behind?
This movie attempts to recreate the magic of the first film. Attempts is the key word here. Even without Bloom and Knightley in the cast, something is missing. Whether it is the fact that Jack Sparrow is becoming old or that the filmmakers attempts to inject a period appropriate character like Blackbeard, just something is missing.