The Pirate Movie – Background and Commentary

The Pirate Movie

Background: The Pirate Movie is a modern interpretation of Gilbert’s and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, one of their better know works. The Movie is told in a dream sequence by the unconscious Mabel, played here by Kristy McNichol. The original light opera was mainly told, like most operas by G&S, through the point of view of the lead male character, Frederic. The shift of focus to Mabel, and her more independent characterization was a consequence of cultural changes of the 60’s and 70’s.

The Plot is otherwise presented in much the same way as the original opera, with the book-end story set in modern Australia. The actual location is not made clear, but the movie was filmed in Australia and many of the extras were Australian. If you are not familiar with Pirates of Penzance, take a few minutes to re-enter the popular culture of the last twenty years with these helpful videos:

The Original from the 1983 theatrical release:




and Video Game:

In fact any song where a list is sung owes a bit to the Pirates of Penzance:

The main difference is the inconsistent nature of Mabel and her connection to the real and fantasy. The movie is lettered with contemporary, for 1982, pop culture references. Including the Wizard of Oz, all of the main speaking characters appear in the first five minutes in other roles.

((will update with twitter roll this evening))

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