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"Pirates" Cannibal Scene Irks Natives?

By Josh Grossberg


Arghh! Thar be controversy brewin' ahead, me hearties.

The brain trust behind Walt Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean sequel now shooting on location is taking heat from an indigenous leader over a scene in which Johnny Depp's swashbuckling hero Captain Jack Sparrow gets roasted on a spit.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Chief Charles Williams, head of the 3,500-strong Carib people--a minority who live on the island of Dominica--is calling on his fellow tribe members to boycott Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest because the fantasy film supposedly perpetuates the incorrect view that their ancestors dined on human flesh.

The sequel is one of two to 2003's blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl being filmed back-to-back on location in Dominica and several other Caribbean islands.

Dead Man's Chest is scheduled to hit theaters in summer 2006, while the as-yet untitled third film is due out in 2007. The spit spat boils down to a scene that's said to take place in the middle of the movie, when Captain Jack gets is captured by natives and ends up hog-tied and generously sprinkled with fruits and vegetables in, as one Disney exec puts it, a human "shish kebab."

"It's a funny, almost campy sequence," Bruce Hendricks, Disney's executive in charge of production, tells the Times about the five-minute scene. "There are a lot of silly moments in it." Although Captain Jack escapes (and goes on to fight ghostly scalawags and rum-lovin' zombies), the depiction of natives as flesh-craving savages bothers Williams, who says it's un-P.C. and untrue. "Pirates did come to the Caribbean in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries," Williams tells the Times. "Our ancestors were labeled cannibals."

Caribs migrated to Dominica from South America over a 1,000 years ago. History books used to portray them as cannibals, but historians have since found sufficient evidence to suggest that the Spanish frequently made up such stories as a way to vilify the natives and justify colonization.. "Today, that myth, that stigma is still alive," Williams adds. "Today, Disney wants to popularize that stigma one more time, this time through film, and film is a powerful tool of propaganda."

Disney declined to comment on the spit spat beyond a brief statement.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is an action-packed adventure full of comedy, romance, and fantasy all born out of the imaginative minds of our writers. While we cannot give away any plot points, any island and tribe depicted in the film are purely fictitious and there is no reference to any particular actual people or group," the statement says.

Williams, as head of the Carib Territorial Council, met with filmmakers in October about shooting scenes in the tribe's stomping grounds and employing the tribe as extras and crew members, and he rejected the idea.

But despite his objections, he was overruled by the council in January. Many fellow Caribs say the film shoot is a boost to the local economy, which suffers 70 percent unemployment. Besides, they argue, the film makes no mention of Dominica or Caribs: It is set on a fictitious island and the cannibals in question are called Pelegosto. Hundreds of Caribs are now working on the project. "To my mind, this is as much a mythical story as Batman or Superman or Dracula," says Dominica's tourism minister Charles Savarin.

Following the rebuke, Williams went public with his protest, even refusing to allow anyone associated with the project to shack up at his Carib Territory Guesthouse.

But so far the shooting has been unaffected.

"There's been nothing but a very welcoming atmosphere," a production insider tells E! Online. "We're working with 400-plus Dominicans, which includes a very large number of Carib people. The shooting's going beautifully on schedule and we have had a fantastic reception from the Dominicans working on the film and around the towns."


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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest Scrappy's Girl

I can't wait to see the sequels. I loved the first one, I just hope that the 2nd and 3rd are just as good.


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  • 1 year later...

Obviously they left the scenes in because I just saw the preview and it's definitely there! It shows Jack tied to a spit and trying to blow out the flames while cannibals wait around in a circle holding forks and knives. Funny stuff! This is definitely the movie I'm most anticipating to see this summer. Two words: JOHNNY DEPP :)

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I cannot wait to see this movie.July cant come fast enough.Even though my son will be on summer vaction by then.So why am I wishing it to hurry up and come..OH Yeah!!!!! Johnny I wanna see JOhnny....lmao

I think parts 2 and 3 will be just as good.I hope :P

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  • 1 month later...

Ok, I'm sure many have seen the movie by now and I'd love to compare takes on it...

My take is:

Loved the action and humor

Bill Nighy was absolutely fantastic as Davey Jones!

As much as I love Johnny Depp, the character of Jack Sparrow wore a little thin on me this time...this may be the fault of the writers though.

I found the storyline muddled and totally lost amidst the action.

GREAT CGI work and as-always beautiful music score (thanks Hans!)

I really disliked the ending (yes, I know it was for the purpose of cliffhanging until the 3rd movie...but still).

I mean, I know they had to have some suspense for the next movie, but there was absolutely NO, NIL, ZIP closure on anything in the movie. Well, I guess maybe Jack's Kraken encounter...but wait...Nope. :huh:

And now for a final question which I hope someone can explain sufficiently for me-

why did Davey Jones end up as a "octopus/squid" man anyway? I got something about an unrequited love that caused him to cut his heart out and give himself to the sea....very muddled. And the other sea creature pirates sold their soul to Davey which caused them to gradually turn into fishies of all kinds? Yes, a very muddled mess if you ask me...I guess it's the kind of movie where you're supposed to check your brains at the door and just sit back and enjoy...or not.

All in all, it was just ok for me...not anywhere as good as the first, but I still will go see the third when it comes out, if only to gaze into Orlando Bloom's eyes a bit more :blush: .

For those that haven't seen it....remember to stay after the credits for a short humorous finale to the movie ;)

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