A Work Of Art

Following on from my previous post, here is another piece from Manchester Art Gallery.

This is the painting Hylas and the Nymphs by John William Waterhouse. It hangs quite high up, hence the awkward angle:

John William Waterhouse was an English painter of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and Hylas and the Nymphs is one of his most famous works. This is the gallery’s label:

(Look, I don’t know. Maybe the nymphs were just like: dude, you’re trespassing. It doesn’t have to be that deep. Waterhouse can hardly be blamed for some femme fatale shit, when it’s a story from Greek mythology. Also, I like Pre-Raphaelites. I like nice things. I’m a visual person.)

The image below is a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth film in the series, released in 2011, directed by Rob Marshall:

image credit: IMDb

Okay, I admit you have to squint a bit, but you can’t deny the presence of a tiny resemblance.

The two stunningly beautiful people are Philip and Syrena, played by Sam Claflin and Astrid Berges-Frisbey. Syrena is a mermaid, not a nymph, and there are no water lilies, obviously–I don’t know if that’s supposed to be a lagoon or what–but she does look like something Waterhouse would have painted. He seemed to have a thing for women of mythology and legends, and bodies of water. (Waterhouse, get it?) Philip is no argonaut, he’s a missionary, hence the cross he wears, but he was on a ship. Which is, I suppose, a logical occurrence in a movie centred on pirates. On Stranger Tides is probably the weakest in the series, but it’s still worth watching for these two, if nothing else. Their romance would surely inspire artists and poets alike. There was something so pure about it, stupid as the word is. I love Philip and Syrena, they own my heart.

*spoilers* Interestingly, much like Hylas, Philip was never seen again either. His fate is a bit ambiguous, as he’s injured, likely quite critically, and the above scene is the moment just before he and Syrena kiss and she pulls him into the water. It was established earlier in the movie that a mermaid’s kiss can heal, and she does tell him “I can save you, just ask”, though he doesn’t ask, he says he wants only forgiveness (he blames himself for her capture). She kisses him anyway (get in there, girl!), and the last we see of them is when they float underwater. But I’m positive Philip didn’t die, the reason why neither him nor Syrena appear again is that The Powers That Be decided not to include them in the fifth movie. *end spoilers*

POTC gets a lot of ridicule, which I maintain is unjustified. The movies have everything–adventure, action, a dose of supernatural/horror elements, lots of humour, great characters, one of the most iconic performances ever from Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow–and they always nail their romances. It’s not only Philip and Syrena. Take the fantastic Elizabeth and Will from the first trilogy, and Henry and Carina in the last film. And they don’t take themselves too seriously. Plus, the theme tune is the best.

So. Anyway.

What I wanted to say is:

The resemblance of the Philip and Syrena scene and the Waterhouse painting proves that Pirates of the Caribbean movies are a work of art.

To all you culture snobs out there–go step on Lego!