The First Day of Crossmas
In this seasonal series, the good people of Crossfader detail what they want pop culture to get them for Crossmas this year. First up is…
The Resurrection…of the Pirate Film
As the holiday season rolls around and Christians everywhere are reminded of the birth and eventual murder of their beloved deity, I begin to ponder about resurrection, but not the resurrection of a bearded man in a beige tunic. I wonder what genre Hollywood will pull out of the woodwork for us next year. As I had previously discussed in an article on spy films back in the summer of 2015, I briefly pointed out this year’s obsession with spy movies and westerns. Coming off the trend of serious espionage tales, we were treated to everything from THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E to KINGSMEN to SPY to SPECTRE, all films that abandoned much of the stern, straight-faced mentality established by CASINO ROYALE back in 2006. In all seriousness though, who misses that from Casino Royale? There is a reason that it makes many people’s top lists, for example, read into this list of Top 21 Gambling Movies, and you’d find Casino Royale to be at the top still to this very day!
And yes, I still fucking hate this film
Even this year’s Westerns decided to play things differently, with THE REVENANT abandoning the arid desert in favor of icy cold action, BONE TOMAHAWK introducing horror elements, and SLOW WEST bringing out some comedy. The point is that although every year features maybe one or two notable westerns, 2015 had a solid six that were worth paying admission for, including Tarantino’s THE HATEFUL EIGHT, which is an entire category in its own right. So what genre ought to be resurrected next? The fundamental answer lies in figuring out what niche genre has grown stale and deserves a second chance through subversion and trope transcendence. To that I answer: the pirate film!
How is this the most recent pirate film I can think of?
Aye, of course there might be a slight bias since I’m missing my right leg and would love to play more bit parts this year in Hollywood, but on the other hand, why not? The beauty of the pirate film is simple: unlike the western, the sci-fi, or the spy film, it hasn’t really been explored very often, leaving a bountiful amount of room for narrative exploration.
With the success, and planned revitalization, of the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN films, there is no need to worry that people aren’t interested in the genre. It merely boils down to providing the right type of entertainment. For more serious action, filmmakers should take pointers from MASTER AND COMMANDER, a film that still stands out today as one of the only truly memorable contemporary naval battle films set in this milieu. With this year’s release and solid box office gross of IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, we’re really only a step away from more naval action, especially because THE FINEST HOURS (although not set in the right era) is yet another seafaring action caper set for the year of 2016.
How are we not seeing more of this???
Although it sounds ridiculous to be wishing for an entire trend to start this next year, it’s really only a matter of time until studios start asking themselves what’s up next (Hell, they’ve probably already made the decision). After all, if I need to reboot everyone’s memory, two years ago we were all mistreated to an onslaught of bible films for some ungodly reason. As much as I appreciated the variety of westerns released in 2015, I’d also love to see something done with an era that’s been virtually untouched save for the middling TV show BLACK SAILS. At the end of the day, when looking at the history of pirate films, one begins to appreciate the scope of the genre and the immense variety of settings one can play with.
All you really need to do is play 20 minutes of ASSASSIN’S CREED IV: BLACK FLAG to realize the potential that lies in the cinematic exploration of these settings. People tend to only think of man o’ wars and intense canon fire, but we forget to consider other, more moralistically fascinating details, like the slave trade, the East India Company, and economic disparity on beautiful islands that have been colonized by brutal invaders. Not since 2005’s THE NEW WORLD and 2006’s APOCALYPTO have we really seen any new approach to these eras, and with such rich, brutal, tense, and horrifying history attributed to the colonization of the Americas, it seems absolutely absurd that it hasn’t been properly digested through the cinematic lens outside of the adventures of Jack Sparrow.