So much to say abut the POTC movies. So this week I thought I’d share a little trivia, some historic, some merely interesting.
1. The British flag in the beginning of the movie is not the modern one, but it is historically accurate. The original English flag was a red cross on a white background. The Scottish flag was a white X on a blue background. When England and Scotland merged their flags in 1606, the two symbols were imposed over each other on the same flag. The flag stayed this way until 1801, when the red X of Ireland was added, making the modern flag.
2. Jack Sparrow seems to have hit rock bottom in Dead Men Tell No Tales, but there have also been some good times since we saw him last. One of his teeth has been inset with a ruby.
3. Captain Jack Sparrow still has the right to call himself captain, even though his current, pitiful command is in dry dock. The small vessel is named the Dying Gull. Why? If it came that way, you can bet that Joshamee Gibbs has something to do with letting the name remain as it came. And if the pirates re-named the boat, this may be the cause of their current desperate state. Re-naming a boat is said to bring bad luck.
4. Carina Smith couldn’t have been a horologist. Yes, the word means “student of time” and it can refer to folks like watchmakers. But the word wasn’t coined until 1819, many years after the Pirates movies take place. No wonder everyone thought she was in a different line of work.
5. The phrase “Dead men tell no tales” was first used by Francis Becon (not Bacon) in about 1560. It means that once dead, a person cannot reveal secrets. Some people think that Long John Silver says this in the novel Treasure Island. But his phrase is, “Dead men don’t bite.”
6. The two pirates who interrupt Barbossa as he is eating were the two redcoats (Royal Marines) who were guarding the Interceptor in POTC I, right before Jack stole it. When Cutler Becket met his downfall, they deserted the Royal Navy and became pirates.
7. In the movie, the inhabitants of the island of St. Martin seem to all be English, but in reality the island was divided between the French and the Dutch. (The French/Dutch border, still in place on the island, is the only place on earth where France and the Netherlands share a border.)
8. The “Devil’s Triangle” wasn’t a thing back in pirating days, when there were no radios for communication, and ships got lost often and wrecked on a regular basis. The first reference to anything odd happening in this loosely defined patch of sea was in a newspaper article published in the Miami Herald on September 17, 1950.
9. Sailors are famous for their knowledge of stars, since astronomy is a vital part of navigation at sea. So Barbossa should have known that “Carina” is not a star, but a constellation. Or, he might have been celebrating the discovery of the Carina nebula on January 25 1752. But if the writers had gone with that, they would have had a hard time convincing us that the girl Carina was being accused of Witchcraft. After all, they “mysterious symbols” she was using were standard astrological notation, common knowledge to any educated person of the time.
10. Lieutenant Scarfield, the second antagonist of the film and a British Royal Navy officer and commander of the HMS Essex is played by David Wenham. Fantasy fans will know his for portraying Faramir in Lord of the Rings.
11. In the first POTC movie, Curse of the Black Pearl, the makeup designer decided to give Jack Sparrow a small open sore low on his right jaw. The sore has stayed in place, and has gotten bigger in every pirates movie since.
12. When Keith Richards had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t reprise his role as Jack’s father, an on-set brainstorming session suggested that Sir Paul McCartney might be a similarly notorious elder pirate. Johnny Depp has the former Beatle in his phone contacts, so he asked the famous rocker to come be a pirate via text.
13. The song McCartney is singing is an old sea shanty from Liverpool called Maggie May (NOT the Rod Stewart song.) It tells the story of a Paradise Street prostitute who is famous for robbing her customers, and is eventually sent to a penal colony. Nope, not a pirate song. It was written in the 1800’s.
14. The reason that the Black Pearl did not appear in the last movie was because it’s not a real ship – it’s a floating prop, built on a barge so it will look like it’s sailing. In Pirates 4 they needed the barge to build the Queen Anne’s Revenge on, so the Pearl had to be bottled. With no real rival ships in Pirates 5, the Pearl is free to float again.
15. Whatever powers Jack’s magic compass, it apparently isn’t a curse. After all curses are lifted, Jack still trusts the compass to help him reach his heart’s desire.