Why do you spend your money for that which
is not bread,
and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
I saw Gore Verbinski’s special effects-driven film on the same afternoon that I was entranced by Away From Her. Not at all a good idea. The contrast was just too great. The Canadian film dealing honestly with affairs of the human heart; Pirates offering us over two and a half hours of hollow emotions overshadowed by special effects. So, I probably need to see again what will no doubt be the summer’s cash cow for Disney. This hugely bloated epic, injecting pagan myth and fantasy into the old pirate film genre, is pure escapism. I was not always sure what was being said (or why) and what was happening—with characters switching sides so frequently and all sorts of battles taking place, and people coming back from the dead—seeming to this viewer more to show off the special effects than to advance the complicated plot. The sword fights and ship battles are fantastic, and the humor delightful, so if you go, lay aside logic and concerns about truth in human relationships, and just go along for the ride—which, considering that the original film was inspired by a Disney theme park ride, is appropriate. At least you will know what so many other people are talking about this summer.
Still, the old Puritan in me, when considering the cost (an estimated $200 million), and what the film took in on its opening weekend, over $126 million, the ancient prophet’s question quoted above haunts me. What the Roman emperors did for their urban masses, distracting them with bread and circuses, Hollywood does for us today.