Friday, September 24, 2010

More pirate ponderings...

We continue to listen to the Pirates of the Caribbean Swashbuckling Songs (over and over...my son says, "We've listened to the pirates CD sixteen times!" but I think he's off by a factor of ten...). There's this great, ponderous pipe-organ song, and it got me wondering where the connection between pirates and pipe organs comes from.

Alas, Google has not answered my question. The closest I could come to an answer is the suggestion that the connection between the movie's Davy Jones and an organ is a tip of the hat to Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, where Captain Nemo has an organ on the Nautilus. The problem with that, though, is that I remember cartoons having the same trope of pipe organs on sunken ships and shipwrecks. Even Goonies has it, doesn't it? A booby-trapped pipe organ? So if the connection is to Verne, then it goes back much further, and the movie is only continuing that earlier trope.

Unless...hmmm. The movie is loosely based on the amusement park ride. I have no idea how old that ride is or if it has the same Davy Jones/Flying Dutchman character. But if the ride is old enough and has a pipe organ (as a nod to Verne), then that could be the source of the trope. Lauren, you know all about Disney World. Come to my rescue here. Or anyone else with knowledge about such things, of course.

5 comments:

Lauren Michelle said...

You asked for it. *cracks knuckles*

The Pirates of the Caribbean films don't really have anything to do with the original ride at all, except aesthetically. (They're pirates. In the Caribbean.) The ride is just a boat tour that takes you through animatronic dioramas of various generalized pirate activities, like pillaging and carousing and a big ship cannon battle. There are a few in-jokes in the movie that refer to animatronic displays in the ride, and one instance of a skeletal pirate steering a ship, but there's no real narrative to the ride, and no historical or legendary pirates shown as characters (such as Davy Jones).

The ride is actually pretty boring and I was never quite sure why it was so popular. I do remember from very early childhood that it used to be scarier (mostly having to do with louder, more frequent sound effects like gunshots and cannon blasts), but they've toned it down a lot since then.

Now, since the success of the films, they've renovated the entire ride to include more cross-references. The most obvious of these is the inclusion of Jack Sparrow as a character throughout the tour. (Yes, this means there are animatronic Johnny Depps everywhere. They're brand new robotics and creepily lifelike in their gestures. It's one of those uncanny valley things that can be pretty weird to sit through.) The story they've attached to him is also unrelated to the films, though, so no Barbossa or Davy Jones, and no Will or Elizabeth either. Just him and all the thirty-year-old stuff.

To answer your actual question, though... no, I don't recall there ever being a pipe organ in the ride. Of course I also wasn't looking for it. Most of the scenes take place on land, I don't think there's ever a point where you go through a cross-section of a ship. (Although that would be awesome.) A quick glance through Wikipedia tells me that the Pirates of the Caribbean rides at other Disney parks are pretty different, but I've never been to those. Maybe Disneyland's got the inceptive pipe organ? Sounds like a research trip to take with your son. :P

Lauren Michelle said...

From Wikipedia:

"Inside the Blue Bayou has been replaced by Pirate's Cove and into a short grotto with Davy Jones, skeletons of dead pirates, the hurricane lagoon, and an echoing "Dead men tell no tales". There is no treasure room sequence as found in other parks."

I honestly don't remember Davy Jones being there. Either he was added after the refurbishment, which may have skipped off my memory since I only saw it once, or it's a character design that pre-dates the films and it's not obvious who it is. If I go back over Christmas, I'll check it out.

"The Florida version also does not include the scene past the powder room with the intoxicated pirates firing cannons."

Man, we got the lame version.

Daniel Ausema said...

I knew you'd come through for me =)

Davy Jones is an old legend, one that got conflated with the legend of the Flying Dutchman in the movie. So it's possible there was someone called Davy Jones without it being anything like the movie.

But yeah, that was my impression of the relationship b/w the movies and ride. I.e. not much.

Wikipedia does say the original was at Disneyland, which opened in 1967. If that one has a pipe organ...it might have spread as a trope into things like Saturday morning cartoons by the early/mid-80s when I was watching them. But the descriptions on Wikipedia make no mention at all of an organ at any of the locations.

Lauren Michelle said...

I think Captain Hook may have played a piano? He did in the Disney animated version, at any rate. With the hook hand.

Daniel Ausema said...

Huh, that's a thought too. I don't remember if he did in the book, and I never saw the real play, but he seems to have in the Disney version. I wonder if there's any connection there.