Troubled waters

Troubled waters
Director Paul Greengrass (from left) with cast members Mahat M. Ali, Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi.

Paul Greengrass would like to nip something in the bud.

The director of Captain Phillips is talking about allegations made by a former crew member that the captain of the hijacked cargo ship he was on in 2009 - and the person at the centre of Greengrass' new movie - was reckless.

The crew member had spoken anonymously to the New York Post about how, despite being warned of pirate activity in the area, Phillips had steered the container vessel Maersk Alabama too close to the Somali shore, in a bid to save time and money, with life-threatening consequences for all on board.

So Phillips had played a part in causing the very incident for which he is now being celebrated as a hero, alleges the crew member. English film-maker Greengrass, 58, launches a lengthy defence of Phillips.

"I don't agree at all. Here's the situation, right? We had a screening in New York, the premiere, in fact, and lots of members of the crew of the Alabama attended, and they stood up and applauded at the end of the film. Always, in a situation like this, you're going to have one or two people who don't like it. And they are entitled to their opinion.

"But as for the facts, they are not in dispute. They are as shown in the film and I am 100 per cent confident about that," he tells Life! over the telephone from Tokyo, where he is on a press junket.

"It's interesting to me that the story which you are referring to is an anonymous crew member, someone who wasn't prepared to put his name to the accusation."

Adding that his own father was in the merchant navy, giving him a good grasp of maritime procedure, Greengrass says that he checked Phillips' facts as stated in his book against his own experience, as well as against independent sources. Everything in the film is sound, he says.

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