The Sparrow effect

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 July, 2012, 12:00am


Each week Young Post takes a look at modern movie heroes and finds out what makes them tick ... this week, it's Captain Jack Sparrow, the outlandish star of the four Pirates of the Caribbean movies


Captain Jack Sparrow is unique among movie heroes. No one had met him before his first successful screen outing in 2003. Unlike many movie heroes today, Captain Jack had not appeared in a novel, TV series or cartoon before he sailed into cinemas in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Actor Johnny Depp must have seen something special in the character when he first read the script. Few people would have expected a film adapted from a theme park ride - with an unheard-of central character - to become a massive hit.

Johnny and Jack

Depp is an actor who likes a challenge, but even he could not have seen that Captain Jack Sparrow would be his most unforgettable movie character.

The four films of the Pirates of the Caribbean series got steadily weaker, and it was only Depp's Captain Jack that saved the final one, On Stranger Tides (2011), from falling into the ocean and sinking without trace. As for Captain Jack, it's sad to think that we've probably seen the last of the outlandish pirate.

Wild man of the oceans

So, why is Captain Jack so popular all over the world? He is a drunken, deceitful, cunning thief who can steal a gold watch from a man's pocket while talking to him. As the saying goes, he could sell ice to Eskimos. Most people don't realise they are being tricked by him until it is far too late.

Captain Jack makes weirdness a good thing. His clothes, his hair and his hats are all way over the top and his gestures make him look like a drunken puppet. Even the way he stands is bizarre. Depp based his characterisation of Captain Jack on the wild man of rock, Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. What's not to like about Captain Jack?

Under the bluster

Despite all his faults, Jack Sparrow is on the ball and intelligent. He deliberately slurs his words and staggers around looking drunk to trick people into thinking he is a fool. He has a quick wit and he is good at stringing long words together so he can talk his way out of any situation. He is a rogue, but he would never hurt an innocent or weak person.

Underneath his arrogant and threatening behaviour, Captain Jack is a wise, good man and an excellent friend to have on your side. But you have to earn his respect first.

Captain Jack in action

Captain Jack Sparrow has appeared in all four Pirates of the Caribbean movies. His reputation as an all-action hero is not in doubt, and he has cheated death many times.

He has rescued young ladies - and men - in danger, battled both dead and undead pirates, faced up to the fearsome Davy Jones and crossed swords with the formidable pirate Blackbeard. Simple he is not. And complicated doesn't seem flattering enough to describe this character who has reinvented the image of pirates and enhanced their appeal among moviegoers.