I like boy-meets-girl very much, including the drama in between the meeting and the actual coming together usually signfied by a first, magnificent kiss. I like these movies in which life is stripped to only one of its very most simple parts – we all want love, pretty much most of all.
However, and now we’re getting to the point of it, some movies that make my all time favorites lists are way outside of that box. Jake discovered one of these the other day. He discovered it because for me, technically, it’s actually on the list titled: Movies for the boys that I will actually watch with them rather than tune out in the background. But Jake confused the moment and thought I chose the film because it’s, like, my all-time favorite. So now whenever he wants to watch a movie, and I balk, he says, “I mean, can I watch Pirates?” And then he grins, raising his eyebrows as if to say, Eh? Admit it. I gotcha with this one.
So the other day when he did that, I asked myself again, why do I like that movie so much? (And by that movie I mean any of the three Pirates of the Caribbean, but especially the last.) So here it is, the optional subtitle for this post: Why Pirates of the Caribbean, which has armor and dirty teeth and swords clashing and storms and treachery and such, has made it to a list that otherwise includes mostly weddings, mail, New York City locations, the English countryside and Bath, on occasion.
And of course my answer will be beyond the obvious, which is, because it’s awesome. It’s all about my worldview. And I first discovered this brilliant revelation about my worldview in the theater while watching The Two Towers in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, when all those fathers and sons and tiny little boys were strapping on armor beneath their dirty and frightened little faces in order to fight a battle they knew almost for certain they couldn’t win, and I thought: That’s real life, and this is just pretend.
I’d call it a throwback to Piercing the Darkness, but I never read that book. Still, I heard my parents talk about it, and I think in it the veil between our world and the spiritual one is sort of lifted – by, like, red smoke or something? And similarly, I know part of my worldview is that the spiritual realm is actually more real, or certainly as real, as this one. And beneath our pretty clothes and civilized faces, we’re actually all very scared and somewhat bitter and rather treacherous, though fiercely loyal to our kind when something far more treacherous still rises against it – like hatred, poverty, hurricanes, and flood. And there are terrible forces at work all the time to break apart our loyalties and our ability to love and to fight for each other. And all day, every day, we’re fighting against those things – fiercely, sometimes spent with exhaustion and only getting through it with coffee or chocolate to help – until we finally lie down on our beds, mulling over the battles we won and the terrible, selfish ones we lost, until we finally drift off to sweet, merciful sleep so we can get up and do it all again in the morning.
I know it’s not exactly uplifting. But the moments when we fight together, the moments when we find each other in the midst of all that trouble, the moments when we kneel together and cry over the sadnesses we couldn’t escape or clang swords over the victories we’ve won, they help so much. And maybe it’s those moments actually, and not sleep, that gives us strength.
And that’s why I love Pirates. They’re so wily and so self-centered, but when they fight together, it is such a beautiful thing.