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PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN

History and Pirate School
Despite the fact that "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” is a tale of fantasy, the filmmakers were no less resolute in their quest to learn as much as they could about real pirates. To that end the studio hired respected historian Peter Twist. 

Twist is particularly interested in and knowledgeable about the years 1500 to 1900. He offered direction and advice, educating every department in production with general historical information: from customs of the day, to details regarding the style of dress and simple aspects of everyday life, to nautical minutiae and military history. 

"A pirate is anybody who commits a crime on the high seas, so it's a very broad term,” notes Twist. "Theft, destruction of property, anything like that done on open water qualifies as piracy.” Although the pirate characters aren't based on any real pirates, the movie is "a compilation of a lot of the things that were done by real pirates, and pirate codes, and so it is fact based,” he stresses. 

"Piracy has been around since man first put to sea,” asserts Twist. "Julius Caesar was captured by pirates, the histories of all ancient cultures refer to pirates, the Egyptians and so on. They've always existed. 

"The original pirates operated as individuals, they were haphazard and undisciplined,” he says. "Over time piracy became more sophisticated. For example, in a war a government would grant ‘letters of mark' to people who would then go and attack the enemy's shipping. The sailors and the government would basically split the money, and this was quite legal.” A great many ship owners and sailors found this a profitable way to make a living… so profitable that they would continue the practice after the war ended and it was no longer legal. "That's piracy,” says Twist. 

The islands in the Caribbean were particularly valuable, he explains. "Aside from the gold and silver, the crops and the goods produced there were highly valued and well worth stealing. So it was a natural place for pirates to operate.” 

Twist says that the legendary pirate booty of buried treasure is simply a myth. "Buried treasure was something that virtually never happened. History tells us that typical pirates, after taking a prize, would divide the money and then head into a relatively pirate-friendly port for a drinking and womanizing binge that would make the Romans blush, so there was nothing left to bury.”

The most famous pirates had "rather short and violent careers,” according to Twist, "but they did amass huge amounts of money. It was the allure of the fast buck that made people turn to piracy.”

Despite the live-fast, die-young reputation of pirates, Verbinski sees some moral ambiguity in their trade. "It's illustrated when you look at the core of what piracy is,” says Verbinski. "Whose rules does society live by? Who are the people who created those rules? Are they simply rules created to keep the masses in their place and the ruling class in theirs? And ultimately for the pirate, what has he got to lose?” 

The filmmakers made no secret about taking liberties with the time period in which their story takes place. "It's a fantasy, so we weren't married to any specific period,” explains Bruckheimer, "but we did want to be true to the overall feel of the era. We paid particular attention to the years between 1720 and 1750 in an effort to find an approximation.” 

"I think it takes place roughly at the tail end of the Golden Age of Piracy, when the Morgans lived,” Verbinski asserts. "Maybe the late 1720s. Barbossa is one of the last dregs of piracy that needs to be removed and consequently he's the most difficult to get rid of. So we come into a world where the myth of pirates is way ahead of the actual characters, which was fun to play with.” 

To maximize authenticity in the film, all of the actors

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