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At the beginning of Captain Phillips we see some scenes of him together with his wife Andrea, driving to the airport and talking about their children. Later his family is mentioned rather rarely, he sends an e-mail to Andrea and at the end writes a letter to his family and speaks to them before his supposed execution.

But as Wikipedia says, the book on which the movie is based (and which is in turn based on real events) "alternates between Phillips' five-day ordeal and the plight of his family in Vermont, watching the drama unfold on cable news". While I, not having read the book, don't know how important or prominent this sub-plot about his family is in the book, the movie doesn't contain any treatment of what is going on in the outside world and especially his family, apart from the Navy ships.

The only reason I could imagine for the viepoint of his family to be dropped from the story might be to not interrupt the intensity of the hostage crisis (while showing his family could in turn infuse other emotions). But is there any official word why this sub-plot has been completely removed from the movie?

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1 Answer 1

This Op-Ed piece is very telling when it comes to how the script was written, and this from the screenwriter himself.

The meat can be found in these two paragraphs:

My belief from the beginning was that this ought to be a movie about two captains. They both get up in the morning and get dressed for work; then both go out and do their jobs.

That was the lure for me — telling a story about leadership: how these two captains lead, the kinds of decisions they make when the safety of their respective crews are on the line.

As you can see, the story was meant to revolve around the captains and their leadership. What was going on back home in Vermont wasn't part of that leadership, so it wasn't important to the story as the screenwriter wanted to present it.

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