Pirates of the Caribbean Posters
Chapter 17 - Aloha Oe: Hawaii Farewell
“Aloha Oe” was the beautiful song of farewell written by Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's still-beloved last monarch. So perhaps it was fitting that the last three days of principal photography would take place on two of the most beautiful islands in the her still gorgeous kingdom.
Following yet another Christmas / New Year break, a reduced crew, along with Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, flew off once again in the second week of January 2007 for one final location: the magnificent islands of Maui and Molokai in the exquisite Hawaiian chain. Requiring a dramatic tropical locale, Bruckheimer, Verbinski and production designer Rick Heinrichs decided that it was far easier to find what they were looking for with a relatively quick 5-1/2 flight to Hawaii than spending 10 hours flying back to the West Indies.
Very remote locations were discovered by location scouts Laura Sode-Matteson and Val Kim (who, although now L.A.-based, are Hawaiians themselves) both on Maui, and then the nearby Molokai, which is a mere 15-minute flight away from the more heavily populated and touristed island. As usual, unpredictable weather followed the company right to the end, with the skies over Maui darkening dramatically throughout the shooting day, occasionally showering the company with water rather than sunshine. Nonetheless, the rugged coastline selected by Verbinski and the moody clouds formed a perfect backdrop to the scene.
Crew members lucky enough to be seated on the left side of the small prop airplane traveling from Maui to Molokai were amazed at the sight of the world's highest sea cliffs, and the oceanfront settlement of Kalaupapa, the colony of those stricken with Hansen's disease (leprosy), still in existence some one hundred years after they were ministered to by the legendary Father Damien, who himself died from the terrible ailment after contracting it from those he so lovingly tended to. Peaceful, traditional Molokai is also a refuge for traditional Hawaiian culture, proudly upheld by its hospitable inhabitants.
The two days in Molokai alternated clouds with brilliant sunlight. However, the beach location, dotted with sharp, black volcanic rocks, was nearly a mile from the nearest road, so access was difficult. So much, in fact, that ace pilot David Paris, who usually flew a helicopter for sweeping aerial shots, now utilized it for cargo duty, hauling the heavier equipment from basecamp to the beach with a net on multiple runs, both at the beginning and end of the filming days. “Gore is always looking for a visual treat,” notes Jerry Bruckheimer, “and he never takes it the easy way. He always wants something that's really spectacular, something you haven't seen before. So when we went to Molokai, Gore wanted to find a place in which to shoot that was almost impossible to get cameras and equipment into.”
“It was a good operation, very safe and well done,” adds first assistant director Dave Venghaus. “Everyone pitched in lugging equipment around the beach. It was fun, we got it done, and that's the way you should do it. It was logistically very difficult, and watching our cast and crw climb up on volcanic rock was both interesting and unnerving.”
But as always, there were no obstacles to Verbinski completing the final, 272nd day of combined principal photography of “Dead Man's Chest” and “At World's End” (that's 284 days if one counts pre-principal shooting) on January 10th, 2007, just a month-and-a-half shy of two years to the day that the cameras first rolled on February 23rd, 2005. And the finale was celebrated in suitably special fashion when the warm, aloha-drenched locals of Molokai feted the entire company with a real, down-home luau, replete with beautiful flower leis, a whole pig roasted in an imu (underground lava rock oven), such traditional foods as poi and haupia, and a rip-roaring performance by the young and enthusiastic members of a local halau (hula school).
It was a well deserved final gift of the heart to a company which had endured the extremes of filming conditions, weather, discomfort, geography, time away from family and home, and almost never wavered over the course of nearly 300 days of shooting. “I guess this is what Darwin was writing about,” joked Gore Verbinski as he surveyed the survivors-those faces which remained from the first day of production in February 2005-in the lunch tent on the final day of production in January 2007.
For Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer, the end of shooting just marked the beginning of an unbelievably intensive four-and-a-half month post-production schedule which would see them working 24/7 with film editors Craig Wood and Stephen Rivkin, visual effects supervisors John Knoll and Charlie Gibson, the Academy Award-winning team of supervising sound editor/designer Christopher Boyes, supervising sound editor George Watters II and sound mixers Paul Massey and Boyes (all of whom were nominated in two different categories for “Dead Man's Chest”), and an army of other technical artists.
And once again, as he has for the first two “Pirates” movies and several other Bruckheimer and Verbinski films, Hans Zimmer would again compose the music. “Hans is one of those artists who always comes up with something fresh, unique and different,” says Bruckheimer. “He's a brilliant composer who has these wonderful melodies in his head. You hear the `Pirates' theme everywhere now, and for `At World's End' he's created several new motifs and melodies, as well as a new love theme. It's wonderful to watch Hans in the recording sessions, when he has 80 musicians and talks to each individual violinist to tell them exactly the pitch, tone and feeling that he wants in every note.”
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