Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Good, the Bad and the Pretty

Author's advisory: Contains spoilers for a major motion picture in current release. If you're saving yourself, just enjoy the pictures...

I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest last weekend. After the initial reviews, I was a little hesitant, because I'd loved the first movie so much, but my girlfriend and I decided to go into this with the same expectations that we had the first one, basically looking for swordfights and pretty and subtext. Okay, we hadn't been looking for the subtext the first time around, but since it was so all over the place there, we figured it would be pretty prevelant here, too. And we weren't disappointed. Love triangles of every shape and size abounded, lots of sword fighting and lots and lots of pretty.

But I was surprised by one thing.

There was a new character. Or an old character made new again. And now I am fascinated with Commodore Norrington.

In the first movie, he was the straight man, doing his duty for king and crown, noble, righteous, honorable almost to a fault. He loved Elizabeth, but didn't really know her, ignored Will as too far beneath him and wanted to string Jack up for no other reason than that he was a pirate and that's what happened to pirates. He was about as by the book as a character could get.

I respected Norrington. He was a decent man, doing his duty, and I got that. But in the face of Will's passion and Jack's daring, he just got lost to me. He was pretty much a foil and that was all. End of movie, fade to black.

And then came Dead Man's Chest.

Oh. My. God.

He's dark. He's gritty. His morals have become questionable. He's sacrificed everything in his life to achieve his goal and lost, completely and utterly. Suddenly the character who was so staid and predictable is now...fascinating. You can't anticipate his actions because you don't know what drives him anymore. He signs on with the very pirates he's destroyed himself hunting. He steals, he breaks promises, he's bitter and sarcastic and utterly utterly fascinating. Suddenly Norrington is the one who's the enigma and Will and Jack are the predictable ones. Well, sort of Jack. Jack will never be entirely predictable.

Where am I going with this? Well, to the pictures mostly. Because dark!Norrington is just...yeah. *sigh* But this is what fascinates me about characters. How such a simple twist of fate can make such a simple man suddenly so much more complex, how a change in circumstances can so completely change someone's personality. And how writers can think of these things, can take a character so easy to write off and make him new and interesting all over again.

Now, I have my theories about what our dear James is really up to But like everyone else, I'll have to wait a year to find out. I can live with that. In the meantime I have the pretty to enjoy.

So how about you? Have you ever been surprised by a character, either in a book or movie, someone you thought would be as dull as dishwater and ended up fascinating you? Or a character who changed in a way you didn't think you'd like but who surprised you by making you love them all the more?

8 Comments:

Blogger Shara Lanel said...

You are so right about Norrington! I thought they might've changed actors, but then I rewatched Pirates 1 and I believe it's the same man. Surprising in a very good way.

But Orlando, who just didn't compare to Johnny Depp in the first movie, is starting to come into his own. I have high hopes for him in the next movie. And yes, I would like a poster of him to hang in my office for...inspiration.

As far as writers changing characters in surprising ways: I always found Buffy fascinating for that reason. The characters grew and changed, and I didn't always agree with the changes, but they were always thought provoking. To this day they live in my mind and I'll start wondering about them out of the blue, though I haven't watched the show in quite a bit.

Shara
www.sharalanel.com

4:15 PM  
Blogger Vivien Dean said...

Because it had been so long since I saw the first PotC, it didn't even dawn on me who Norrington was, though I thought the voice was familiar. But you're right. Where I was all about Jack in the first one, as soon as Norrington got cleaned up a bit on the boat so that I could recognize him, I was like, woah. He's the one to watch in the 3rd movie, most definitely.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

You know i was disappointed in POTC 2--it wasn't at all what I expected. But you just gave it to me in a whole new light! You're so right about Norrington and thank you!

9:09 PM  
Blogger Jenna Howard said...

Oooh yeah. Norrington! That sword fight with the three of them? *swoon* I mean...I panted in the theatre. Okay...we panted in the theatre. I even liked Orlando in this one. He was quite grr. No Norrington though. Grrowf.

I found 2 a little darker than the first and is totally a foil for part 3. But man alive...pirates...Johnny. Really, what more could a girl ask for?

A good, wholesome boy turned dark. Deeeelish. I will see this one again just to catch everything I missed - mostly because of mini-orgasms during that sword fight. Hot day-um!! Savvy? Oh I'm savvy alright. Sav-vy.

12:30 AM  
Blogger Meljprincess said...

I didn't read your post 'cause I wanna see the movie. But, the guy who played Commodore Norrington is the same guy who marries Kat's sister in "The Wedding Date". I knew I had seen him somewhere before. Great movie? Anyone seen it?

9:00 AM  
Blogger Bonnie Dee said...

I just watched this movie yesterday. I wasn't impressed. It seemed overly long and more of the same old, same old. But yes, the change in Norrington's character was right up my alley. I'm such a huge fan of complex characterizations and anti-heroes, the guy you shouldn't root for but somehow do. My belief is that we're going to see more and more of this kinda guy in romance stories and less of alpha hero dude. And that doesn't answer your question at all, but that's my two cents.

10:01 AM  
Blogger LSB Author, Darragha Foster said...

I loved *the kiss*

11:34 AM  
Anonymous celine chatillon said...

Ooo, yeah, Norrington! I liked him well enough in the first POTC, but now... Now he's more of a pirate than the pirates! Yee-haw!

Something tempting about a boy gone wild... I've always enjoyed characters that did a complete 180 on me. It keeps me guessing what they'll get up to next! ;)

5:32 PM  

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