Captain Red runs a hardy pirate ship with the able assistance of Frog, a dashing young French sailor. One day Capt. Red is captured and taken aboard a Spanish galleon, but thanks to his inventiveness, he raises the crew to mutiny, takes over the ship, and kidnaps the niece of the governor of Maracaibo. The question is, can he keep this pace up?Written by
This film is one of Polanski's masterpieces. He did to pirate movies what Sergio Leone did to western: showing the opposite of the usual sancticised glamorous movie portrayal of an era, yet achieving an epic effect, and images you want to see again and again.
But a difference to Leone, beyond a high dose of irony and situation comic, is the bittersweet ingredient of the Central-Eastern-European experience, of lack of success and constant failure, constantly hitting all of our heroes in the film.
Memories of living under communism might have also played a role in the (for me) most memorable part of the movie, the failed mutiny followed by the successful mutiny aboard the Spanish ship: the way the aristocrats have power over the people, and make Captain Red and The Frog eat the rat. And then, hilarious juxtaposing, the mutiny is like a parody of a communist revolution.
But the best thing about the film are the actors. Walter Matthau is at his best as the grumpy old liar Captain Red, Damien Thomas is terrific as Don Alfonso the hyper-arrogant Spanish aristocrat who'll never loses his superiority, Roy Kinnear the embodiment of ugliness as the Dutch, and also the young no-names Cris Campion (playing The Frog, the naive young Frenchman at Captain Red's side) and Charlotte Lewis (playing the even more naive daughter of the governor).
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