Captain Phillips featurette: Two Captains
A look at the two captains - cargo and pirate - at the heart of the real life story of Captain Phillips, the new movie starring Tom Hanks.PT2M25S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2vd0f 620 349 October 11, 2013
Pirates boarded a ship and kidnapped its captain, yet Tom Hanks' Oscar-tipped film doesn't want to serve up stereotypical bad guys.
On Sunday, April 12, 2009, US Navy Seals killed three Somali pirates and rescued the captain of the American cargo ship Maersk Alabama, Richard Phillips, who had been taken hostage after the pirates boarded the ship four days earlier.
The dramatic rescue was authorised by President Barack Obama and was widely covered by the media at the time.
Now actor Tom Hanks is set to appear in cinemas as Captain Phillips, for the self-titled film, which is widely tipped to grant Hanks his sixth Oscar nomination. Yet, as our exclusive featurette shows, this is a story that starts long before in the American state of Vermont and in the African nation of Somalia, as two worlds are set to collide.
"That relationship between a captain from our world and a captain from theirs is what drives the film," says director Paul Greengrass, who genuinely sees the film as a tale of Captain Phillips and Muse, the Somali pirate who takes Phillips hostage.
Greengrass was determined not to paint the pirates as one-dimensional villains.
"Although you're always clear that Phillips is an innocent man — I mean, he's Tom Hanks — your 'bad guys' are not, hopefully, rendered in some sort of stereotypical way," he told The Huffington Post recently. "You understand that they're all sort of trapped in larger forces.
"And, incidentally, nobody wants anybody to die. That's the point. The pirates don't want anybody to die; they just want the money."
As Hanks explains in our video: "It's an odd burden that is shared between rich and lesser off, and it's not a pleasant burden; it's life and death."
Greengrass - who is best known for directing the action films The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, but who also gave us the harrowing United 93 — is keen that the whole story, including that of all the participants, is known.
"When they said, 'We have this project, are you interested?' I kind of went, 'I sort of vaguely know. Is that when the guy got taken and rescued?'," he recalls.
"But, funnily enough, when I read Billy Ray's screenplay, all of the twists and turns, the point is that you don't [know]."
For Greengrass, the final moments of Phillips' rescue are not the story, a factor borne out by the treatment of the moment, and its aftermath in the final film.
"It's not about what happens at the end. That's not the point, it's the journey. It's the detail. It's the humanity," he said.
"I think it's something about the collision between sort of armed, desperate, organised piracy, and commercial ship-born trade. What you've got in play, they're all of the elements of our world, which is the world of globalized economy."
"One of the things I was quite pleased about in the film — and I hope it comes through — is of course modern piracy in that part of the world began as a response to over-fishing and toxic dumping. But, very, very quickly, that got superseded by essentially organized crime."