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”Pirates” - Our Movie!, unknown inflight magazine, July 2003
By Vynnette A. Frederick
typed by Becky Greenleaf

© Disney brings fame and fortune to St. Vincent & The Grenadines with their 2003 Box Office hit-“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

(Orlando off camera on the ship picture) Director of Photography Dariusz Wolski (center) lend Orlando Bloom (right) a hand during the filming of Walt Disney Pictures’ “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” 

The crush of people haggling for tickets outside Cinerama Cinemas, Kingstown, St. Vincent symbolized and captured Vincentian sentiment about the film. We couldn’t wait to see it! Such was the fervour that gripped every Vincentian awaiting the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl…the pushing and tugging to get into the cinema was unbelievable! This was ‘our movie’. Sure, the movie starred Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush, but the real star for Vincentians was our very own Gem of The Antilles-Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Our cove Wallilabou, For Charlotte, and in the Grenadines, Balliceaux, and the Tobago Cays. Wherever there was seaside and island footage every Vincy would be jumping up and swelling up with pride.

So there I was, sitting in the darkened Cinema, awaiting the start of our movie-“Pirates” and I wondered whether I’d even recognise the place. Would I recognise my brother Jerry who was an extra? He was in full pirate regalia!

(Johnny Depp on the mast of the ship picture) For the roguish yet charming Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), the crystalline waters of the Caribbean present a vast playground.

The film opened to applause-there it was, our sparkling blue waters, Fort Charlotte with its cannon pointing inland, there was Wallilabou which, through the magic of editing and computer technology, appeared to be ensconced in a valley carefully watched over by our towering fort. Someone shouted, “Camera tricks, dread!” And didn’t our Fort look majestic! At that very moment, the film was worth every cent of the ten dollars I had paid to get it, it was worth all the fuss and fighting to clear the door and the crush to get popcorn! And the opening credits were barely over!

Pirates took many months to complete and we watched in awe as Disney Studios made movie magic. Wallilabou was transformed into bustling Port Royal and our island never looked more beautiful. Cinematography to die for, the whole choice of lighting, colours, wardrobe, everything worked to transport us back into the realm of the pirate. We could feel the sweltering heat on the jetty, the discomfort of the British finery (corset, wigs and all) in the West Indian sun, we could taste the rum-we were there!

Who wouldn’t want to be the inimitable Jack Sparrow (so ably portrayed by Johnny Depp)? His slurred speech was like a private joke, shared with every Vincy who ever took a shot of Sunset Rum. Geoffrey Rush was menacing, and perhaps the most articulate pirate ever immortalized on film. We found ourselves admiring the bad guy! And Orlando Bloom bloomed in every female heart there that night. The purists may look to technical questions, marketing issues, plot development, dialogue, and actors’ performances as critics are wont to do. However, if you had told me, before I’d seen this film, that a Disney fun-ride could successfully be transformed into an entertaining, clever, creative romp of a movie, I’d have been the first person to ask you to walk the plank with that idea!

I heard a woman behind me shout, “That little boy come from Bagga!” The entire cinema erupted into laughter as the young actor said his line. We didn’t know whether to believe her or not, but surely the rumour that a local from Barrouallie had a speaking part in the film would only add to the anticipation, ticket sales and overall appeal of the movie. Vincies who had the opportunity to see the sets being constructed readily gave away trade secrets. “you see that boat hull? It make from concrete and board.” Being in the cinema was as much about seeing the film as it was about hearing the running commentary from the other patrons.

“Johnny Depp was at Ocean Allegro y’know,” said one young lady with a sigh… “Pirates” brought Hollywood home. It put money in our coffers, brought jobs for our people, and above all else, we now have the right to brag that St. Vincent and the Grenadines, just like Trinidad and Jamaica can be considered a “movie location.”

Every time you drive along the Leeward Coast, it is almost impossible not to look out to the horizon and hope for a glimpse of the Black Pearl.

It is now one month later and the movie is still in demand. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is the cinema’s top seller. Right now Cinerama is packed with new and returning viewers. The lines: as long as at the premiere. Me? I’ve seen it six times. Tomorrow night I am heading back to the cinema for a seventh helping…my mission: to catch a glimpse of my brother, the extra.

Vynnette A. Frederick is an avid movie fan, awaiting her Call to the Bar in St. Vincent.

(Johnny and Orlando pic) (Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, left) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom, right) join forces on the fastest ship in the British fleet, the H.M.S. Interceptor

(Picture of the Black Pearl) The Black Pearl, the notorious ‘ghost ship’, looms on the dark ocean.

(Barbossa and crew pic) Wily Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, foreground) is flanked by his first mate, Bo’ sun (Isaac C. Singleton, Jr., (left) and other members of his motley crew.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” is directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer from a screenplay by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and a screen story by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and Stuart Beattie & Jay Wolpert. Mike Stenson, Chad Oman, Bruce Hendricks and Paul Deason executive produce. Buena Vista Pictures distributes.