Meet Captain Phillips
By ENTAction Staff Writer
U.S. Release Date: 10/11/13
Aside from being a thriller in which pirates take an American sea captain hostage, Captain Phillips is, in the opinion of its director Paul Greengrass, a conflict between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”
“The confrontation between Phillips, who is part of the stream of the global economy, and the pirates, who are not, felt fresh and new and forward-looking to me,” says the filmmaker. “I’ve always felt that a story should be told in a way that is thrilling and compelling, but also thought provoking.”
Concerning the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, an American container ship, Captain Phillips is all about the relationship between Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) and Muse (Barkhad Abdi), the Somali pirate captain who takes Phillips hostage off the Somali coast.
“I want veracity, “ says Greengrass, the director behind titles such as Sunday Bloody Sunday and Flight 93. “I want to portray the immediacy of the event, as it happened. And that means immersing ourselves in research during the post-production stage.
And that’s just what co-producer Michael Bronner, Greengrass’ longtime collaborator, did when he researched the history of Somali piracy and the economic reasons behind it.
One such reason, he discovered, led back to the massive lack of fish in Somali waters – a result of industrial overfishing.
When Somali’s military dictatorship collapsed in 1991, an event which plunged the country into civil war, an influx of illegal fishing drove fleets into new hunting grounds after EU regulations tightened up.
The resulting Somali piracy initially began as a reaction to over fishing, but according to Bonner, it quickly captured the eyes and ears of the warlords who in turn transformed it into their own profitable enterprise. Today it is backed by financiers in Africa, Europe and North America.
As for Philips, the man who finds himself in the middle of the piracy, Greengrass, whose father served in the merchant marine, says the captain reminds him of men he knew during childhood. He perceives these men – responsible for transporting goods around the world – as the “lifeblood of the world economy.”
“They are the truckers of the sea,” he says. “It’s a very physical blue collar kind of world. To me, Richard Phillips is that kind of man – a kind of everyman who finds himself in this unwanted confrontation.”
From the get-go, the filmmakers had envisioned Hanks, who met with the real Captain Philips, in the title role.
“In the beginning he kept saying ‘For me, it’s just about a guy in peril on the sea’ and Tom honed his performance down to something that stark and true. He spent hour after hour in a lifeboat – everyone was moved by how much he put into this. It was not just a matter of his talent, but a willingness to explore every inch of this man’s humanity.”
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Director: Paul Greengrass
Stars: Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali, Michael Chernus, Corey Johnson, Max Martini, Chris Mulkey, Yul Vazquez, and David Warshofsky.
Screenwriter: Billy Ray, based upon the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips with Stephen Talty.
Producers: Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca
Executive Producers: Gregory Goodman, Eli Bush and Kevin Spacey
Source: Columbia Pictures
Image Info: Tom Hanks is Captain Phillips. Copyright 2013 Columbia Pictures. All Rights Reserved