Blackbeard’s Ghost. Back in the 1980s, when the Disney Channel still showed commercial-free movies on Saturday nights, this was a favorite in the Livingston household. Well, at least between my Dad and me.
Likewise, *A* and I have a stack of DVDs that we cart out of our cabinet every fall – and this one’s always among them. You’ve probably never seen it – I’ve never met anyone else beyond my family that’s ever even heard of it, much less admits to being a fan. It’s silly, it’s horribly historically inaccurate – it glamorizes piracy, gambling, alcoholism, track coaches, old ladies belonging to secretive “daughters of” organizations. So many things that I should raise an eyebrow at, but what can I say, sometimes things you love in childhood remain just as great as a grown up. Sometimes.
Peter Ustinov, as Blackbeard, absolutely makes the movie. See for yourself in this excerpt from when Blackbeard, as a ghost, first appears to the track coach. Blackbeard’s the guy with the sword. (Duh.)
Now that I live in North Carolina, and have had some time to familiarize myself with my new stomping grounds, I realize the setting for the film probably wasn’t mean to be a New England coastal town (the film doesn’t actually say), but it probably should’ve been the North Carolina coast, somewhere around Beaufort, according to sources like this one. Huh. Whadda you know.
I also spent considerable time in grad school working with a professor who was into pirate history and taught a legitimate for-credit class about it. Unfortunately, I never took it, but I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed it, although all of my youthful imaginings about how great it was to be a pirate would’ve undoubtedly come crashing down.
Oh, Disney. Responsible for untold amounts of confusion in history classes across the United States. Twisting and turning facts into more enjoyable, cartoon-ish, that-never-could’ve-ever-happened fantasies. How awful. What lengthy
soap box moments productive conversations about fantasy versus actual documented history you have caused and will continue to cause. And how we all love you.
When you do think about it, though – what an awful thing to glamorize – the life of a pirate. And it continues – hello – much more recent than the fantastic Peter Ustinov – the equally Disney, equally flamboyantly hilarious, equally eye-lined Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
And, silly me, how could I forget Captain Hook? Also flamboyant, also a bit of a drama queen. The best character in the Peter Pan movie–well, him and the crocodile. 🙂 Yeah, Captain Hook is the guy who grabbed my brother with his hook at Disney World when I was five and terrified the both of us (he was 15) for a second or two. Have you ever been grabbed by a person with a hook? Not funny. At least I don’t remember having to change my underpants.
Ah well, childhood’s not the place for the harsh realities of piracy, surely. Imagination should reign free when you’re a kid, of all times. There’s plenty of time for a reality check later on, yeah? In the meantime, let’s watch Blackbeard’s Ghost. I’ll get the popcorn, *A,* you get the lights.
Image credits-Blackbeard with bottle: http://skymovies.sky.com/blackbeards-ghost Blackbeard’s Ghost movie cover: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062737/ Captain Hook – http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Captain_Hook