Thursday, October 02, 2008

Quick Cuts: Friends of Cinerati Speak Up. The Pirates vs. Ninja's Edition.

Two weeks ago was "International Talk Like a Pirate Day," or as I more inclusively call it "International Play Like a Pirate Day." Playing like a pirate, board games/video games etc., allows people to avoid irritating their co-workers and friends with random "arrs" and "avasts." In belated celebration of that day, I asked the "Friends of Cinerati" (insert Harlan Ellison-esque registered trademark here) the following question:

"When it comes to movies, do you prefer Ninja movies or Pirate movies? Given that preference, what is your favorite ninja/pirate film and why?"

William Jones

While I enjoy both Ninja and Pirate films, I think there is a soft spot - or maybe a hard spot - in my heart for pirate films. There is a long history of them, and there are even a number of good ones. Although, the not-so-good ones tend to be enjoyable for me as well.

As for my favorite pirate film, my first thought was Captain Blood (with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland). This film doesn't have all of the pirate tropes that come later, but it does have enough: parrot speak, slaves (indentured servants) rebellion, a love triangle, flamboyant clothes, sword play, duels, and sea battles. What Captain Blood does lack are some of the martial art style combats that appear in modern pirate films (a bit of ninja with the pirates, I suppose).

But then I started thinking, and I was reminded of Monty Python's Crimson Permanent Assurance - the brief "pirate" film at the opening of Meaning of Life. Crimson Permanent Assurance is short, but in a few minutes, it heaps the pirate tropes into the film, replacing the high seas and tall ships with high finance districts and tall glass buildings. It is modern adventure into piracy and capitalism. In many ways it parallels Captain Blood - and includes the popular pirate "plank walk." Keeping with the tradition of pirate movies, the aged building with its indentured employees prowl Wall Street, preying upon bloated multi-national corporations. Like all good pirate films, rebellion is at the center of the story. Pigeons replace parrots, and file cabinets replace cannon, but it's all there - even sailing into the horizon.

William Jones is a writer and editor who has worked across genres, including mystery, horror, science fiction, dark fiction, historical and young adult. He has edited several fiction anthologies and magazines. His writing also reaches into the role-playing industry, where he has published articles and gaming supplements for a variety of publishers. Presently William is the editor of Dark Wisdom magazine. When not writing and editing, he teaches English at a university in Michigan.


Aaron Rosenberg

That's a tough call! I love ninja movies but I also love pirate flicks! I guess I'd have to go with pirates, though, since I actually own four great pirate movies—Against All Flags, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, and Pirates of the Caribbean. The four three are classic Errol Flynn movies, of course, with great swashbuckling, rousing scenes, and lovely damsels. And Pirates of the Caribbean is just plain fun, with its undead pirates and the lovely Elizabeth Swann and the odd but amusing Captain Jack Sparrow. I love pirate movies because of the action, the daring, and the fact that often you wind up rooting for the bad guy!

Aaron Rosenberg has written novels for Star Trek, StarCraft, WarCraft, Warhammer, and Exalted. He also writes roleplaying games, children’s books, and educational books. He lives and works in New York City.


Richard Scott Nokes

I prefer pirate movies, of course. By definition, good ninja movies cannot be seen, so silently do they slip off into the night. A really good ninja movie would have to be viewed frame-by-frame to even catch a glimpse of the ninjas.

My favorite pirate movie is Yellowbeard. While it is actually a rather bad film, it does have the last film appearance of Marty Feldman, perhaps the most handsome comic actor to grace the silver screen. In fact, the history of film should be divided into BM (Before Marty) and AM (Anno Marty).

Richard Scott Nokes is a professor of medieval literature at Troy University. Dr. Nokes enjoys reading, film, and all things medieval. He is interested in looking at representations of the medieval in modern culture, a phenomenon he calls Popular Medievalism.
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