Friday, October 4, 2013

Talking pirates in Italy

"World Wide Woodard" hasn't been bounding from continent to continent as much in recent years, but last week did have me in Italy, talking about the golden age pirates with European media aboard a full-scale replica Spanish galleon and from the inside of the dungeon of a Piedmontian castle.

I'm the author of The Republic of Pirates, a history of the pirate gang that is responsible for nine-tenths of our pop culture pirate imagery, and media have been wanting to hear from me of late because of the forthcoming release of a major video game. Ubisoft's Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag is set among the same pirates -- who included Blackbeard, Sam Bellamy, and Ann Bonny -- and I was a script consultant, helping improve the historical accuracy of details and dialogue in the game.

My first interviews were held in Genoa aboard the Neptune Galleon, a replica galleon built in Tunisia for Roman Polankski's unsuccessful 1986 film, Pirates. Rogert Ebert said the ship was the best thing in the production, which he introduced thusly: "There hasn't been a pirate movie in a long time, and after Roman Polanski's "Pirates," there may not be another one for a very long time." As a backdrop to a pirate video game launch event, however, it can't be beat.

Later, I found myself in front of rival Spanish television crews, explaining the unusual staying power of the Bahamas-based pirate gang in the dungeon of the Castello di Tagliolo Monferrato, still the residence of the Marquis of Tagliolo and his family. (The Marquis, who was on hand to welcome our polygot group, told me his ancestors invested in Christopher Columbus' voyages.) In a wonderful collision of history and historical fiction, the castle was festooned with flags and multi-story banners bearing the Assassins Creed IV logo. Arrr.

In any case, some of the first interviews have begun to surface, and I'll post links to others as they come. For now, Italian speakers can enjoy this piece in Corriere della Sera, the Milan-based paper that is Italy's second largest.

More on pirates to come....

[Update, 10/25/13: Additional coverage and interviews from this and other events linked to here.]

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