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Burning Questions: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

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Pirates
Peter Mountain/Disney

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides revolves around a quest to find the Fountain of Youth. Where’s that fountain located, anyway?

Stories of springs containing magical, life-extending waters date back at least to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus. But when Juan Ponce de Leon set off to find the Fountain in the 16th century, he headed to a place now known as a sanctuary for the elderly: Florida. The Caribbean Arawak tribe, however, believed that the Fountain was located in Bimini, an island in the Bahamas. Today, St. Augustine, FL — the oldest continuously occupied, non-Native American city in the U.S. — still boasts a tourist attraction called Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. (Bonus: It’s just a two-hour drive from there to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World!)

So was Ponce de Leon a pirate?

Not unless “pirate” just means “a guy who sailed around a lot.” He traveled with Christopher Columbus on that explorer’s second voyage to the New World in 1493 and later became the governor of a province in Hispaniola (which became the Dominican Republic and Haiti), then the first governor of Puerto Rico. He subsequently led the first Spanish voyage to Florida, which is where the whole Fountain of Youth thing comes in.

Was King George II really that much of a fop?

Well, dude did know how to rock a serious wig, and he was also a big fan of opera (especially pieces written by George Frederick Handel, who had been his father’s court musician). But the extreme effeminacy in Richard Griffith’s portrayal of the King seems to be move invented than it is grounded in reality.

Were mermaids actually denied a place on Noah’s ark, as Missionary Philip/Fake Orlando Bloom tells Syrena they were?

This one’s a little tricky, since there’s no mention of mermaids in the Old Testament. We do know, however, that there weren’t any fish on the arc; according to Genesis 6:15, God declared that he intended to “destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life” in the flood. That means only air-breathing creatures needed spots on the big boat the first place. But wait — the mermaids of Pirates 4 apparently require both air and water to survive, right?

Yeah! [SPOILER ALERT] Why did Syrena almost suffocate when she was deprived of air, but then almost die again when she was placed half in and half out of the water? And why do these mermaids transform into regular humans when they’re not submerged? And why was de Leon’s ship marooned on top of a cliff? And how, exactly, did Blackbeard “zombify” members of his crew? Plus, for that matter, how did Syrena plan to heal the very human Philip by dragging him underwater with her?

Um… magic?

Have more Burning Questions from this summer’s movies? Hit the comments! Your friends at PopWatch will do our best to answer them.

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