Today the final film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise hits DVD and Blu-ray and with the release of the Limited Edition At World’s End DVD Disney held what is described as an “online junket” with franchise director Gore Verbinski. Basically this boils down to being one large chatroom moderated by someone at Disney, which meant I only got one question answered out of the several I submitted and it just so happened it was the weakest of the bunch and came in as the first one.
Since it was moderated by Disney it doesn’t steer away from the Pirates films in the slightest, not even my questions about Gore’s opinion on the HD DVD vs. Blu-ray format war or the current writers strike leaked in. Nevertheless, it has a few nuggets fans of the series may enjoy despite its rather generic appearance.
The best question of the bunch was “What’s the significance of Jack’s peanut?” to which Gore answered, “Exactly.” That one gave me a laugh.
I already reviewed the 2-Disc DVD which you can read here and you can read the chat with Gore below.
The Maelstrom scene proved to be a success, but also offered up major effects obstacles. Was there ever a moment you didn’t think it was going to work out?
Verbinski: Definitely, the biggest issue hit us about 8 weeks prior to the release. We were suffering from a scaling issue that seemed insurmountable. The physics of a whirlpool this size overwhelmed the team at ILM. The path we were heading down was not achieving the desired results so it all had to be reworked. The initial rendered backgrounds were used as out of focus plates for close-ups which bought us time by getting 100 or so shots in the pipeline and allowed us to completely rethink and re-render the maelstrom for all of the wide shots. This is the exact opposite of how you would normally go about producing this sequence. John Knoll and the team at ILM ultimately pulled it off, but it was a real nail-biter.
Considering how complex the Maelstrom was, were there any shots that proved too difficult, that you just couldn’t quite get right?
Verbinski: Most of the time the initial response from the producers or crew, when viewing the storyboards, was that this sequence was unachievable. But when you have the best in the business working with you, and you are willing to break apart each shot into it’s components, the impossible eventually becomes a reality.
Where there times that you had to hold back Johnny Depp a little, or did you just let him do his Jack Sparrow thing?
Verbinski: Johnny and I love pushing Jack as far as he can go, but we are also aware that keeping him unpredictable requires a constant oscillation between the dramatic and the absurd. So, it’s both spurs and reigns — constantly.
How much planning goes into “The Making of…” Extras and how deeply are you involved?
Verbinski: It is really an issue of documenting the madness. There must be a million hours of digital video that the â€˜making of folks’ are combing through. (Someone was on set videotaping every day.) They show me the cut footage and most of the time I just have this sort of Vietnam flashback moment and then say, “Sure why not?” I do believe the process of this production is just about as mad and bold an adventure as the narrative itself.
What is the movie scene that gave you much satisfaction once shot?
Verbinski: The scene with Jack and the crabs.
I was particularly entranced with the “across the desert by crab” sequence – how did that come about?
Verbinski: I have always been fascinated by the work of Miyazaki. When we needed to get the Black Pearl back to the ocean, I thought, why are we limited to the rules of live action film making? Once those shackles are off, it is quite liberating. All sorts of ideas start to germinate. The crab is Tia Dalma’s “motif.” Why not do something surreal and connected to her? Giving his escape a subtextual intention.