“Captain Phillips” is True to Life

Published 7:00 am Friday, March 7, 2014

By Hugh McDonald

Guest Columnist 

Try to imagine an area almost completely devoid of educational and occupational opportunities, this is the Somali Basin and the background of the movie “Captain Philips” starring Tom Hanks.

For An expert opinion on the authenticity of the film I called longtime friend, former U.S.Navy helicopter pilot, and fellow movie buff David Jarrett. I asked David about three aspects of the film: the plot, the pirates, and the place. When asked about the plot he said that it was true to life. The way the U.S. Navy conducted operations around that life boat was pretty close to reality.

Basically, what started as a routine day aboard the Maersk Alabama turned into a tense four day hostage situation when four Somali pirates boarded the ship and took Captain Richard Phillips prisoner from April 8th, 2009 to April 12th, 2009. The pirate characters were well written. David said he witnessed real pirate bosses like in the film ride into town first hand and the ones in the movie behaved much like their film versions did. “In Somalia you either fish or you pirate, David said when asked about how they live there, drawing attention to the poverty level. He said that when you pass up the coastline all you can see is miles and miles of sand. It seems as if the only thing useful that comes from the soil is a plant called “Khat” which they chew to combat the effects of sea-sickness.

This plant is shown in the movie and to me the presence of it is a good indicator of the level of realism that the filmmakers were working to achieve. Even the smallest details can sometimes make or break a film. After the events shown in “Captain Phillips” the remaining pirates must have gotten the message because piracy of American ships seems to have decreased since then. In my opinion, “Captain Phillips” is a very well made movie. I like the way the pirate characters are used to drive the plot forward and the lengths that the filmmakers went to get the details right. Tom Hanks, other than his weak accent, is always great on film.

Some accents are harder to act through than others. If you would like to see what happened when the world’s worst pirates took on the world’s mightiest navy then “Captain Phillips” is an excellent rental idea for you. This edition’s movie fact is all about casting.

Until next time, see ya’ at the movies!