Reel Corner - June 2017

Pirates of Hollywood

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True  |  False
The first recorded mentions of seagoing raiders, then called sea people, were over 2,000 years ago.

True  |  False
It is believed Julius Caesar may have been kidnapped and held for ransom by pirates in 75 B.C.

True  |  False
Blackbeard’s real name was William Teach.

True  |  False

There was an explosion of piracy in the Caribbean between 1715 and 1725.

True  |  False

The majority of eighteenth-century pirates were working class sailors, naval deserters, redundant merchant seamen and former privateers.

True  |  False

The real pirate ships operating in the Caribbean were fast, single-mast vessels known as sloops.

True  |  False

Walking the plank is a myth.

True  |  False

The message of the black and white skull and cross bones flag was “surrender or die.”

True  |  False

Parrots were frequently collected as pirate souvenirs.

Answer key at botom.

In celebration of the new release of the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film, here are a few facts to challenge the myths around Hollywood’s fascination with the pirate film genre:

» Some of the earliest mentions of piracy were recorded in the fourteenth century B.C. and relate to a group of seagoing raiders known as Sea Peoples, who roamed the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The waters around Europe continued to be fertile hunting grounds for pirates up through the middle ages

» In the years between 1715 and 1725, there was an explosion of piracy in the Caribbean that was comparable in some ways with the recent outbreak of piracy in the seas off Somalia.

» The majority of the eighteenth-century pirates were working-class sailors: naval deserters, redundant merchant seamen and former privateers. They were not the heroic, romantic characters portrayed in the movies by Errol Flynn, nor did they have the zany charm of Johnny Depp’s Captain Sparrow. They were hard men notorious for foul language, heavy drinking and casual violence.

» Not all pirates were men: Anne Bonny began her life of piracy after she took up with a pirate named Calico Jack. Mary Read, was believed to be a mercenary prior to becoming a pirate with Calico Jack. Both Anne and Mary were known for their violent tempers and ferocious fighting.

Pirate ships in the movies bear little resemblance to the vessels used by real pirates. Hollywood pirate ships are usually large, three-mast galleons, presumably because these provide plenty of deck space for cameras, crews and lively action sequences. The real pirates operating in the Caribbean preferred fast, single-mast vessels known as sloops. Their speed and shallow draft enabled them to evade naval ships by outpacing them and hiding out in shallow creeks.

Walking the plank is another myth associated with pirates. The real pirates either let their victims go once they had ransacked their ships, or they marooned them on the nearest island.
Not everything traditionally associated with pirates proves to be untrue. The black flag with the skull and crossbones came into common use among the pirates of the Caribbean around 1700. The flag’s message was “surrender or die.”

And what about wooden legs and parrots? There is plenty of evidence to show that some pirates had wooden legs to replace limbs lost in battle or shipboard accidents. Parrots were frequently collected by sailors and pirates. They made colorful souvenirs to take home from tropical regions, and if they failed to impress wives and girlfriends, they could always be sold for a good price in the bird markets

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: Dead Men Tell no Tales - Now Playing
Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Orlando Bloom, Kiera Knightley

PG-13  |  Captain Jack Sparrow finds the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost pirates, led by his old nemesis, the terrifying Captain Salazar, escape from the Devil’s Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea...including him. Captain Jack’s only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact that bestows upon its possessor total control over the seas.

Answer Key: If you answered TRUE to all of the above questions you are correct.
Reference: The Elk Magazine March 2017 “ The Popularity of Pirates”,,


Reel Corner 2Donne Paine, film enthusiast, once lived around the corner from the Orson Wells Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts where her strong interest in films, especially independent ones, began. Supporter of the arts­—especially films—she travels to local and national film festivals including Sundance, Toronto and Tribeca. There is nothing like seeing a film on the big screen. She encourages film goers to support Hilton Head local theaters—Coligny, Park Plaza and Northridge theaters. To support her habit of frequent movie going Donne is an executive recruiter and staff development consultant. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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