Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Teasing Pirates

Editor's Note: Stealing PR hoakum from Disney is WAY better than writing stuff myself...

A World of Excitement Approaches

The adventurers assemble for their voyage to the edges of the Earth -- and beyond -- in "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End."

It's looming on the horizon -- the Jolly Roger fluttering from its mast. It's the adventure of the summer.

Although it won't make landfall until May 25, anticipation is already growing for "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," the final film in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy.

This one will take Captain Jack and crew to the ends of the Earth -- literally!

And according to production designer Rick Heinrichs, it will be unlike anything you've seen before -- even in the previous "Pirates" films. Editor's Note: Yet another Disney 'cast member' who has quaffed the kool-aid!

"It really does go off into new locations and a new look. It has a more restrained graphic and simplified look," he says. "Pirates: At World's End" will take our heroes far from the Caribbean into the far East and uncharted waters beyond. "

[The look is] in keeping with the Asian themes, but also because we're at world's end and we're dealing more with landscapes of the mind."

We talked to Rick about the making of "Pirates: At World's End" as well as the second film, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." He gave us a peek into the upcoming excitement -- from some harrowing moments on slippery decks to a journey that none of our heroes will ever forget.

Rick is an old Disney hand -- he started his career in 1979, working under Blaine Gibson, the then-head-sculptor at WED Enterprises. He was also working under another set of heads -- the original clay head sculptures used when the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction was created.

Rick says that these busts were a great inspiration to him -- especially when the time came for him to imagine the world of "Pirates."

"[Imagineering legend] Marc Davis did such an amazing job -- you can tell it was done by people who were telling stories and developing characters, who thought about telling stories the way you do onscreen in a movie. I was very inspired by that."

Rick got his chance to put that inspiration to work when he joined the "Pirates" crew to work on the second and third films. Parts of the two movies were filmed simultaneously -- a race to take advantage of locations in The Bahamas, even as the script for "Pirates: At World's End" was still flying off the typewriters.

"When we were down in the Caribbean and The Bahamas with the special tanks that we had built there for shooting water scenes, we tried to film as much of the third movie as would make sense," Rick explains. "The third film's script wasn't completely finished when we were shooting No. 2, so there was a bit of a scramble to figure out which scenes made sense to shoot down there."

Some of the most exciting moments in the third film, however, were beyond what the film crew could create in a water tank. Rick and the rest of the team had to film one of the most elaborate ship-to-ship confrontations ever seen onscreen.

To make the scene feel completely real to audiences, the filmmakers went above and beyond, spending weeks to build unique sets and equipment that put the actors in the middle of a typhoon on the pitching, rolling decks of their ships. Editor's Note: Urp. I am getting motion sick just THINKING about it. (I thought being an actor meant dry land!) It was an impressive accomplishment -- but a demanding one.

"It was incredibly hard on the crew and the cast. They had to be out there in the wet for 16 hours a day," Rick says. "Our art department was right off the stage there, and we would stand on the stage and look up at what they were doing, and be incredibly glad we weren't up there, 30 feet in the air. They were getting drenched and blown and slipping and sliding. But nobody got hurt."

The plot of "Pirates: At World's End" is a secret as closely guarded as a pirate's treasure horde. But Rick confirms that the title should be taken literally -- expect to see the very edge of the world itself on film ... and to discover, along with Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth, and Will Turner, what lies beyond.

It's not a discovery to be taken lightly, as Captain Jack will discover.

As the trilogy draws to a close, no one can say whether the voyagers aboard the Black Pearl will have more adventures in store.

For Rick, at least, coming this far has been an amazing journey.

"I've loved Pirates of the Caribbean since I first rode the attraction, so this has been a thrilling experience -- not just because it gave me a chance to work with [director] Gore Verbinski and work with Disney again, but because this was something from my own childhood that had such a great impact on me. And I think we've succeeded in giving the movies a limitless quality that suggests we are concentrating on one portion of the pirate world, but there's so much more out there."

Next month, we'll see a lot more of that world ... and we can hardly wait. Editor's Note: Pirates/Shmirates. Bring on Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley! (oh...and what the heck...the undead monkey)!


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