Reading the Screen: Some Other Pirates of the Caribbean
Posted by: David Pitt
The fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, subtitled On Sranger Tides, is based on Tim Powers’ popular 1988 novel of the same name (switching out Powers’ characters for Jack Sparrow and the gang).
It’s not the only pirate movie that’s based on a book. The various movies called Treasure Island, or something similar (there are at least a dozen of them), are based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel — hard to believe it’s nearly 130 years old, isn’t it? — although some of them, like Disney’s Treasure Planet, bear only a passing similarity to the source material.
The Island, a mostly dreadful 1980 movie about modern-day pirates of the Caribbean, is based on the 1979 novel by Peter Benchley. It’s an interesting novel, written while Benchley was still riding high off the success of Jaws and before his string of mediocre books of the 1980s. If you like pirate stories with a contemporary twist, you ought to check it out.
The 1935 Errol Flynn swashbuckler, Captain Blood, is based on the 1922 novel by Rafael Sabatini. Blood is a made-up character, but he’s he based on some real people, and the book incorporates a fair amount of actual historical goings-on. Sabatini also wrote Scaramouche (1921), which has been made into a couple of movies. But the book isn’t concerned with pirates, so we’re not concerned with it right now.
Peter Pan was introduced in J.M. Barrie’s 1902 novel The Little White Bird. But it was the 1904 stage play, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, that spawned several movies, including the 1924 silent film, the 1953 Disney animated classic, and the 2003 live-action version.
The character also inspired Steven Spielberg’s Hook (1991), a sort-of sequel to Barrie’s story, in which a grown-up Peter returns to Neverland for a final showdown with Captain Hook.
Spielberg is also, apparently, toying with the idea of making a movie out of Pirate Latitudes (2009), Michael Crichton’s final novel. Published posthumously, it’s a corker of an adventure, a real change of pace for the technology-minded author, and somebody definitely ought to make a movie out of it.
Got any favorite pirate movies that are based on books? Tell me what they are, and we can talk about them.