Follow TV Tropes


Film / Pirates

Go To

Pirates is a 1986 Franco-Tunisian adventure film directed and written by Roman Polanski. It stars Walter Matthau, Cris Campion, Damien Thomas, Olu Jacobs and Charlotte Lewis. It was screened out of competition at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival.

In 1659, the pirate captain Thomas Bartholomew Red is stranded aboard a raft at sea with Jean-Baptiste, his French first mate (nicknamed "Frog"). After Red, cracking under the starvation, tries to kill and eat Frog, the duo climbs onboard a Spanish galleon and are forced into slavery before instigating a mutiny with the other prisoners and taking control of the vessel. Frog falls in love with María-Dolores de la Jenya de la Calde, the niece of the governor of a Spanish colony. Red covets the golden throne that the Spanish have taken from an Aztec king. The two undertake an Indy Ploy to get what they want: one of them succeeds. Sort of.


Pirates provides examples of :

  • Anachronism Stew: Captain Red and Diddler are singing "We'll Go No More A-Roving" on the pirate island... about 100 years before the song was written.
  • Agony of the Feet: Red steps on Don Alfonso de la Torré's foot after climbing onboard the Neptune.
  • Anti-Hero: Captain Red is brutal, greedy, drunken and conniving.
  • Artificial Limbs: Red's peg leg.
  • Badass Beard: Red has a face, but it's hard to spot.
  • Badass Grandpa: Red is pushing 60, but he still deadly with his cutlass.
  • Book-Ends: An Ironic Echo version. Our two heroes start the movie aboard a raft at sea with a treasure chest. By the end of the movie, they're once again aboard a raft at sea, this time with a golden Aztec throne.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The movie is about, well, pirates.
  • Gold Fever: In Captain Red's case, it's almost cartoonish.
  • Advertisement:
  • I Am A Humanitarian: Played for laughs. At the beginning of the movie, the two leads are stranded on a lugger with no food in sight. Captain Red snaps.
  • It's All About Me: Or rather, all about gold. Red kills dozens of Spaniards, gets jailed, loses half his pirates and abandons the other half to die, and goes through all kinds of hell just to get that Aztec Throne. In the end, he gets it, and its all he has left... but he's OK with that.
  • Jerkass: Don Alfonso de la Torré is a nasty piece of work. Not only is he cruel to his crew, condescending to Maria, contemptuous of anyone not Spanish (and some who are), it's implied it was he who poisoned The Neptune's captain to get command.
  • Kick the Dog: Even though he plans to execute them anyway, Don Alfonso makes Red and The Frog eat a dead rat at the officer's table purely out of spite.
  • Large Ham: Captain Red takes the cake.
  • Meaningful Name: Captain Red wears garments of a certain primary color.
  • The Mutiny: Red masterminds a successful mutiny onboard the Neptune.
  • Nice Guy: The Frog is a decent guy. For, you know, a professional robber.
  • Nice Hat: Red's embroidered green tricorn.
  • Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: The wreck and battle on Red's ship, The Black Princess. Overrun by Spanish Pirate Hunters, Red and The Frog somehow survived this onslaught and escaped, killing plenty of the attackers in the process. We only hear a few details of this event from other characters: The Spaniards, the pirates, and even Red himself.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Bumaku is attacked by a python at one point.
  • Shown Their Work: An impressive full-scale 17th century Spanish galleon was built for the film, which was one of the reasons the film went overbudget. It still exists and can be visited in the port of Genoa.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: