Season after Pentecost, 2023
More Deputy Blogging excitement!
Well, I saw Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man's Chest today. I was completely unprepared for the principal villain, Davy Jones, to be an organist. This might be considered a spoiler by some, but Davy Jones has an octopus for a face. A scene shows him playing the organ with his face, which must have been necessary because his hands were crab claws.
A later scene features organ music blasting in the background, which abruptly stops when Jones is summoned to the deck of the ship. Clearly, this guy spends a lot of his spare time playing the organ.
Why this association of organs with villainy, and especially villainy of the undersea variety? The scene of Jones playing a fearsome tune with a toccata like accompaniment on an organ deep in the hold of his ship was nothing if not reminiscent of a similar scene in the original Disney version of 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. Being a typically illiterate moviegoer who has not read the novel, I have to wonder whether the association began with Jules Verne.
Wherever it started, it has certainly become archetypal. What is it about the organ that evokes this image of an evil, monomaniac performer? Sure, it's big, loud, and essentially a solo instrument, but is that really why we see a character who is a representation of the Devil incarnate playing it? I don't even want to think about the theological implications of this. Perhaps the misplaced context is supposed to be frightening.
Perhaps the answer is something different. Being evil is one thing, essentially an emotional state. Possessing a strong rational faculty in service of evil motivations is something else. This is what makes a genuine villain more than a mere scoundrel or brigand. The organ, the machine that produces emotionally moving music, and the technique of playing it, are together a physical representation of both the fearsome lucidity and accuracy of execution of the evil purpose of the villain who plays.
Provided the player is a villain, naturally.
A charming detail to watch and listen for in this film is that the theme Davy Jones initially introduces on the organ, to a swelling orchestral accompaniment as we cut to see his crew, later returns as the theme the music box gently plays as he sleeps at the console. This is a very cute example of thematic transformation. I thought it was a nice touch.
Deputy Blogger Parks signing off, wishing all you villainous organists happy villainy.
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