Richard Curtis had more than just multiple story lines to juggle with PIRATE RADIO, he also had a cast afloat on a boat that was at the mercy of the whims of the ocean. When we talked on October 21, 2009, the question of seasickness was inevitable. The real topic was music, and the revolutionary nature of it during the 1960s, but along with that, the conversation included how to go about realistically recreating a time that is within the living memory of many in the audience, founding Comic Relief as a moral imperative, and how he talked Nick Frost out of his clothes. Literally.
What PIRATE RADIO does that is so remarkable is to capture as closely as a film can what it was like to be a fan of rock & roll at a time when it was considered not just noise, but actual subversion. Of course, in a way it was. This music was the anthem of the counter-culture and so when the establishment looked at it with baleful eye and fingers plugged firmly in its ears, it was more than a question of taste, it was an attempt to stem the tide of change. In Great Britain, where this tale unfolds, the government had all but banished it from the official airwaves, allotting less than an hour a week to that music during, the film posits, the single greatest era of British pop and rock. That didn’t stop it from filling the airwaves, broadcast from ships anchored just outside British territorial waters and listened to by an audience made up of half the listening public.
PIRATE RADIO looks at the cold comfort of milk tea and chocolate cookies after a heartbreak, male posturing of many types, and the bittersweet knowledge that the times you are living in may be the best of your life. Throughout, and to the beat of soundtrack that proves the point of why this music was feared and adored, it revels in the giddy delight of a time when all the old rules were questioned, if not thrown out, in the face of a new social order.