Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a 2003 American comedy drama adventure film directed by Gore Verbinski, written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. It's the first installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series and it was inspired by the Pirates of the Caribbean attractions at Disney theme parks around the world, developed by Walt Disney himself.

It stars Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Jack Davenport and Jonathan Pryce. The film focuses on the legendary and crafty Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) that teams up with the blacksmith Will Turner (Bloom) to get back his beloved ship, the Black Pearl, and the Governor's daughter Elizabeth Swann from the evil cursed pirate and Sparrow's former first mate Hector Barbossa.

The film was positively welcomed from audience that praised it for its story, characters, performances (especially Depp's one), humor, Badelt's musical score, screenplay, heart, action scenes and special effects. Despite the expectations of the critics that the film would have been a flop like all the other pirates films before it, the film was a huge box office success and became one of the most famous movies in movie history.

A sequel, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, was released in 2006.

Plot Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Pirates of the Caribbean is a sweeping action-adventure story set in an era when villainous pirates scavenged the Caribbean seas. This roller coaster tale teams a young man, Will Turner, with an unlikely ally in rogue and unusually heroic pirate Jack Sparrow. Together, they must battle a band of the world's most treacherous pirates, led by the cursed Captain Barbossa, in order to save Elizabeth, the love of Will's life, as well as recover the lost treasure that Jack seeks. Against improbable odds, they race towards a thrilling, climactic confrontation on the mysterious Isla de Muerta. Clashing their swords in fiece mortal combat, Will and Jack attempt to recapture The Black Pearl ship, save the British navy, and relinquish a fortune in forbidden treasure thereby lifting the curse of the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Detailed Plot[edit | edit source]

Governor Swann (Jonathan Pryce), the new governor of Port Royal, Jamaica, and his young daughter, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) sail from England to the Caribbean on board the H.M.S. Dauntless. A young officer, Lieutenant Norrington (Jack Davenport) of the British Royal Navy is also aboard. They come upon a shipwreck with a sole survivor: a boy named Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). Elizabeth discovers a gold skull medallion around Will's neck and, fearing that he will be executed as a pirate, quickly hides it from the others. Elizabeth briefly glimpses another ship with shredded black sails vanishing into the mist.

Eight years later, Captain Norrington is being promoted to Commodore. Elizabeth attends the ceremony at her father's request. Norrington is Elizabeth's suitor; just as he begins to propose to her on the battlements, she faints because of the tight bodice she was wearing, tumbling over the wall into the bay. Destitute pirate Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), only just arrived in Port Royal, rescues Elizabeth from drowning. The skull medallion Elizabeth is wearing around her neck, emits a mysterious pulse through the water as she is sinking (This scene is reportedly not seen in fileshared versions, and was also reportedly not in the theatrical version). After saving Elizabeth, the occupying British forces attempt to arrest Jack for piracy, for which he has been branded on the forearm by the East India Trading Company (pirate lore suggests the tattoos were actually placed on the foreheads of the convicted). Sparrow escapes and ducks into a blacksmith shop where he encounters Will Turner — now a blacksmith's apprentice. Will is also a seeker of Elizabeth, but due to his social rank, hides his feelings for her. Following a swordfight with Turner, Sparrow is knocked unconscious by Will's employer (who slept through the entire fight) and is arrested and jailed.

That night, Port Royal is besieged by the infamous ghost ship known as the Black Pearl — a black-sailed vessel crewed by vicious, bloodthirsty pirates, and captained by a man reputed to be "so evil that Hell itself spat him back out". The mysterious pulse that emanated from Elizabeth's medallion has "called" the Black Pearl. The pirates ransack Port Royal and kidnap Elizabeth (who hides her true identity by claiming her last name is Turner) who is in possession of the medallion. She invokes the right of parlé ("parlai" in Middle English, "parley" in modern American English—a negotiation or discussion between two parties, particularly in military situations, during which no harm can befall the adversary[1]) in order to be taken back to the ship to Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Sparrow's former First Mate of the Black Pearl. Elizabeth asks Barbossa to cease his attack on Port Royal in exchange for the medallion. Barbossa agrees but, employing a loophole in their agreements, abducts Elizabeth.

The next day, Will (having seen Elizabeth taken by the Pearl's crew) fails in his passionate efforts to convince Commodore Norrington and the Royal Navy to immediately pursue the culprits (despite the Commodore's own feelings towards Elizabeth). While the Commodore puts his faith in strategy, Will seeks help from Jack Sparrow and agrees to break him out of jail in exchange for assistance in rescuing Elizabeth. After absconding with the HMS Interceptor, the Royal Navy's fastest ship, and assembling a crew in the lawless town of Tortuga (Spanish for turtle), Jack and Will set off to find Barbossa and the Black Pearl, which is heading towards Isla de Muerta (Spanish for "Island of the Dead")— a mysterious island that is said to be undiscoverable, save for "those who already know where it is."

Here, we learn the true story and intentions of Barbossa and his crew. The Black Pearl and its crew were once under the command of Captain Jack Sparrow until they mutinied ten years before. Jack was persuaded into giving the crew the bearings to Isla de Muerta, the location of a supposedly cursed chest of Aztec gold coins they sought. Under the command of Jack's first mate Barbossa, the crew then marooned Jack on a small island, leaving him a pistol containing only one shot, presumably to put himself out of his misery. The crew found the Aztec treasure, and believing the tale of the curse to be a myth, took all the treasure for themselves. Will's father, "Bootstrap Bill" Turner, was the only member of the crew who protested against the mutiny. Bootstrap Bill sent one of the cursed gold pieces away to his son in hopes that the crew would never find it and remain cursed as a fitting punishment for the mutiny; but in doing so accepted that the curse would befall him as well. In retaliation, Barbossa ordered Bootstrap to be tied to a cannon and thrown overboard. He was last seen, according to one of Barbossa's mates of The Black Pearl, Pintel, falling into the hands of Davy Jones (another character who appears in the sequels).

Too late, the crew discovered that the curse was indeed real; whoever steals even one of the coins shall be incapable of digesting food, experiencing what the sense of touch conveys, sleeping, or dying. They are therefore neither dead nor alive. Only if the blood of Bootstrap Bill or one of his family is spilled on the gold will this curse be lifted. In the meantime, anyone under it rots deathlessly, to be revealed by moonlight as a mobile skeleton and little else.

Due to Elizabeth's attempt to disguise her rank by using Will's surname, the pirates believe she is Bootstrap's daughter and use her accordingly; poised over the chest of gold, Barbossa makes a cut on her hand and lets her blood flow. There is no change.

Just after the Pearl's crew tries—unsuccessfully—to lift the curse, Will and Elizabeth escape in a boat after sabotaging the others and leaving Jack behind (in keeping with the pirate's code, which says "any man who falls behind is left behind"). When Barbossa and the crew discover Jack still on the isle, Jack offers to trade information on the person whose blood will lift the curse (Will's) in exchange for his return as Captain of the Black Pearl. Jack's negotiations come to naught when the Pearl manages to catch up to the fleeing Interceptor and the crew boards her. Will is trapped below deck while trying to get the medallion. Jack escapes and tries to recover the medallion, but it is taken instead by Barbossa's pet monkey (also named Jack). Successful in their mission, the Pearl's crew takes the Interceptor's crew—including Elizabeth—captive and destroys the ship, seemingly with Will on board. Even as Elizabeth begins to mourn, Will climbs aboard the Pearl and reveals himself to the crew as the true offspring of Bootstrap Bill. Elizabeth and Jack are stranded on the same island on which Jack was stranded a decade ago, while Will is taken back for his blood to be shed to complete the requirements to end the curse. Elizabeth burns all their supplies (Jack's hidden cache of rum), as well as some of the small island's palm trees, to create a signal fire to alert Norrington of her location. Elizabeth and Jack are eventually rescued by Norrington, but Elizabeth is unable to convince him to go back and rescue Will until Elizabeth promises to marry the Commodore.

Upon arriving at the cursed island, Jack convinces Norrington's forces to lie in ambush for Barbossa's crew while he goes in and convinces them to come out. He convinces Barbossa to delay spilling Will's blood to break the curse until after they have killed the crew of the HMS Dauntless and taken the ship. This proves to all be part of a larger plan laid for Jack's revenge; however, he was not expecting the undead crew to walk along the ocean floor to the ship, which allows them to escape the planned ambush. As the Black Pearl crew engages the Royal Navy in hand-to-hand combat aboard the Dauntless, Jack steals one of the cursed coins and engages in his own swordfight with Barbossa, his former first mate. Because he stole one of the coins, Jack too is now cursed and thus can't be killed until the curse is lifted. During their fight, he distracts Barbossa long enough until both he and Will can give their blood and return their respective coins (Will has Elizabeth's medallion, Jack the coin he recently stole). Before Will drops the coins into the chest, Jack shoots Barbossa with his pistol, containing the one shot he was given when marooned after Barbossa's mutiny. When Barbossa claims, "Ten years you carry that pistol and now you waste your shot." Will claims, "He didn't waste it!" and drops the coins into the chest breaking the curse. After the curse ends and all the Black Pearl crew becomes mortal again, Barbossa falls to the treasure-covered ground and drops his sour, green apple. Once they realize they are no longer cursed — and now mortal — Barbossa's crew surrenders to the Royal Navy.

Back at Port Royal, Norrington prepares to hang Jack as per law, but Will, who believes him decent enough a man not to deserve death, rescues Jack. Elizabeth, inspired by Will's sudden defiance, as well as his confession to her, declines marriage to Norrington and declares her feelings for Will instead. Norrington agrees to release her from her promise and Will is pardoned for his criminal act; meanwhile, Jack escapes and awkwardly falls into the ocean, to be rescued by his crew, which now man the Black Pearl. Norrington watches as Jack sets sail for unknown adventure, impressed by the pirate enough to allow him one day's head start before setting out in pursuit.

Following the end credits, in a final scene on Isla de Muerta, Barbossa's pet monkey, Jack, climbs out of the water and onto the Aztec chest, where he takes a piece of the treasure. Jack's skin sloughs off and the now cursed monkey glares straight ahead for a moment before pouncing forward, the scene disappearing into his mouth. This explains why Jack the monkey is still cursed in Dead Man's Chest.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • On August 10, 2002, a fire started on the soundstage where the movie was shot. Nobody was hurt and the damage was estimated to be $350,000.
  • The movie is inspired by, and takes its theme from, the popular Walt Disney theme park ride of the same name.
  • Stick around after the credits for an additional scene.
  • References to the Disneyland attractions include (but are not limited to):

- Three uses of the song "(Yo Ho, Yo Ho) A Pirate's Life for Me" by X. Atencio and George Bruns in the opening scene (sung by young Elizabeth), when Jack and Elizabeth are marooned on the island, and in the end by Jack.

- The jail scenes, in which the prisoners try to tempt the dog who holds the key to their cell. Jack says, "That dog is never going to move" - although the movie dog eventually does, the one in the ride doesn't. Jack later tries to tempt it with a bone, as does one of the audio-animatronic pirates in the ride.

- The "burning town" sequence, and within it, the redheaded prostitute (who slaps Jack), and the "stuffed pirate" drinking the rum spurting out of a barrel

- Jack's initial discovery of Gibbs sleeping with the pigs

- The line "Dead men tell no tales", said by the macaw, which is repeated throughout the ride's narration

- A quick shot of a skeleton sprawled on the beach of the Isla de Muerta, with a crab nearby -During the raid on the town, seen is a man being dunked into a well.

- A skeletal Barbossa drinks wine, which trickles through his exposed ribcage, as one of the skeletal pirates do.

- During the battle scene between the two ships, Black Pearl and the Interceptor Captain Barbosa refers to his crew as "bloomin cockroaches" just like the captain in the ride does when his ship attacks a local town fort.

- In Tortuga, we see a pirate drinking rum on top of two barrels and is wobbling just like in the ride.

- There are references to cursed treasure in the ride: old pirates speak of cursed treasure and how you probably don't believe in it, and the line "Who knows when that evil curse will strike the greedy beholders of this bewitched treasure."

- The woman wearing a red dress at Tortuga island that slaps Jack and he wonders if he deserved it is a character in the ride.

- Part of the Caribbean Beach Resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is called "Port Royal".

  • The figurehead (an sculpted ornament on the bow of antient vessels) of the ship carrying Elizabeth and Governor Swann at the beginning of the movie is actually the coat of arms of the United Kingdom and it is the figurehead of an actual ship of the line, the HMS Victory, which participated in the Trafalgar Battle against combined French and Spanish navies under the command of Lord Horatio Nelson in 1805. HMS Victory is now preserved at Portsmouth, England, as a museum and is the oldest commissioned warship in the world. She still has a captain and crew. The crest holds the Latin motto of the British monarchs "Dieu et mon droit" (God and my right) and the French motto of the Order of the Garter "Honi soit qui mal y pense" (Shame on he who evil thinks).
  • The island Isla de Muerta is Spanish for "island of dead". Tortuga is also Spanish, meaning "turtle".
  • The film was such a success that Disney closed the Pirates of the Caribbean attractions at Disneyland and Disney World to update them. The new storyline of the attractions will be that Captain Barbosa is chasing Jack Sparrow, both of which will be added in the form of animatronics. Disneyland opened their updated attraction on 26 June 2006, two days after the movie's world premier. Disney World opened its new attraction on 7 July 2006.
  • The skull and crossed blades flag was the flag of "Calico" Jack Rackham, captain of the Revenge and longtime lover of notorious female pirate Anne Bonny.
  • The scene where Jack Sparrow stands tall on the mast of his sinking boat is an homage to Buster Keaton and the ending of The Navigator (1924).
  • Jack Sparrow's line "...and then they made me their chief," is a tribute to British comedy series "The Fast Show" (1994), of which Johnny Depp is an ardent fan, so much so that he guest starred in one episode. The line was originally said by a character, played by Mark Williams, who usually appeared in a kitchen and is, in its entirety "...and then they made me their chief. Which was nice." The line has also been said by another character, in The Fast Show, Sir Roly Birkin (played by Paul Whitehouse), who blurts out random sentences during his drunken, mumbled ramblings. The Fast Show was shown in the US under the title "Brilliant". (Depp uses another Fast Show catchphrase (again from a Mark Williams character) in an unused version of the "parley" scene in the cave when he says, "I'll get me coat..." - this can be seen on the DVD.)
  • Johnny Depp improvised Jack Sparrow's catch phrase, "Savvy?"
  • One of the film's last lines - "Bring me that horizon" - was conceived by Johnny Depp on the morning the scene was filmed.
  • 'Keira Knightly' wore colored contact lenses like Johnny Depp's in the last scene of the movie. But since her eyes are lighter than Johnny Depp's, they had to be dark in the center and light on the outside. She complained they made her so dizzy that she threw them away the night after shooting.
  • When Will wakes up after being knocked out, he looks out into the port and you can see the same girl who played the young Elizabeth sweeping at a doorway (Lucinda Dryzek).
  • The ship used as "HMS Interceptor" is an actual ship, the "Lady Washington" and is the official tall ship ambassador of the State of Washington. She can also be seen in Star Trek: Generations (1994) and was used as a reference for the RLS Legacy in Treasure Planet (2002).
  • When returning from a night shoot on one of the Caribbean islands, Keira Knightley's boat struck a reef and went down. The only people aboard were Knightley, her mother and the boat's skipper, all of whom escaped unharmed and were rescued within a few hours. However, the incident ultimately determined that the rest of the island night shoots needed would complete filming in a studio, rather than on location.
  • The title was originally just "Pirates of the Caribbean" but the name was changed in the hope that it would do well at the box office and a sequel could be made.
  • The movie's world premiere was located at Disneyland Park at the Disneyland Resort in California, home to the original Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, on June 28, 2003. This was the first ever movie premiere at Disneyland.
  • Johnny Depp's character, Captain Jack, is portrayed as having gold teeth in the film. These are real and Depp had his dentist implant those and others into his mouth for the production. Disney executive 'Michael Eisner' thought there were too many and asked him to remove all but a few.
  • Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski wanted to use the massive water tank in Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico used for Titanic (1997) and Pearl Harbor (2001), but Peter Weir's film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) had the tank booked during the time Pirates was scheduled to shoot.
  • The "walking under the row boat" scene is a direct homage to The Crimson Pirate (1952).
  • The scene where Orlando Bloom impersonates Johnny Depp's performance was devised by Bloom who asked producer Jerry Bruckheimer if he could put it into the movie.
  • Many of the crew got seasick while filming.
  • The final cannon shot during the Black Pearl's siege of the town, billows into a Mickey Mouse head shape against the night sky
  • In an attempt to ward off the seasickness that struck the rest of the cast and crew, Keira Knightley took a travel sickness pill... and fell asleep instead.
  • Clothing and smears of charcoal were used to conceal Johnny Depp's numerous tattoos. The "Jack Sparrow" tattoo on his arm in the movie is a fake, but he got a real replica after finishing the film, in honor of his son Jack.
  • The "Fort" in Port Royal is actually not on St. Vincent's, but at a closed down amusement park (Marineland) in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
  • When Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, the screenwriters, originally pitched the movie to the Disney executives in the early '90s, it was rejected.
  • Alan Silvestri was first suggested to provide the score but has been replaced by Klaus Badelt. However, some movie posters still show the credit "Music by Alan Silvestri". These posters also show a different story credit, omitting the fourth story writer Jay Wolpert: "Screen Story by 'Beattie, Stuart' and Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio".
  • Governor Swann's first name is Weatherby, Commodore's is James, and Barbossa's is Hector.
  • On the DVD commentary with director Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp, it is revealed that Captain Barbossa's first name is Hector.
  • The substance sprayed on William Turner after the sword fight between him and Captain Jack Sparrow is actually powdered chocolate.
  • The East Indian Trading Company really did brand pirates with a "P" but it was put on their foreheads instead of their arms.
  • Industrial Light and Magic designers scanned turkey jerky to create the effect of decomposing skin when the pirates turn into their skeletal forms.
  • The various "eunuch" lines were improvisations by Johnny Depp.
  • When filming in the cave, excessive makeup was added to the characters so they wouldn't looked washed out on film. When the crew realized how cool the makeup looked on Johnny Depp, they continued to use it on him for the rest of the movie.
  • Jimmy Buffett was offered a role as a pirate, but had to decline due to previous engagements.
  • The words "pirate" and "piracy" are said 56 times.
  • Johnny Depp wore contact lenses which served as sunglasses so he wouldn't be squinting in the sun all the time.
  • According to the screenwriters' commentary on the DVD, Will Turner is the best swordsman in the film, Barbossa and Commodore Norrington are evenly matched, and Jack Sparrow is actually the worst.
  • The monkey "Jack" is played by two capuchin monkeys. One is a 10-year old female named Tara, the other an 8-year old male named Levi.
  • Voted number 4 in Channel 4's (UK) "Greatest Family Films".
  • The tattoo that Orlando Bloom got on his right wrist during The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) is covered throughout most of the film. It's visible during the sword-fight in the blacksmith shop when Will raises his sword to parry after Jack's "You're not a eunuch, are you?" and again below decks on the Interceptor where Elizabeth reveals she took the medallion and Will realizes it was his blood the pirates need to lift the curse - you can see it just as he reaches to touch the medallion on her chest.
  • Keira Knightley's hair was extended because it was still short from her role in Bend It Like Beckham (2002).
  • Having decided that pirates were the 18th century equivalent of rock stars, Johnny Depp's characterization of Sparrow was inspired by close observation of his friend Keith Richards, though he emphasized in interviews that it was not an impersonation.
  • Michael Keaton, Jim Carrey, and Christopher Walken were all considered for the role of Captain Jack Sparrow.
  • Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Tobey Maguire, Christopher Masterson and Christian Bale were all considered for the role of Will Turner.
  • Jack (the monkey) is seen "smiling" when Barbossa thanks him specifically after he returns the Aztec coin to him after Jack Sparrow chases him. In the special features on the DVD it is revealed that the monkey did this purely by chance and it was not planned out in any way.
  • According to the DVD commentaries, Geoffrey Rush has a theory that people watch the screen from left to right, just like when they read a book. Therefore, he tried to be in the left side of the screen as often as possible. He was particularly intent on doing this in the scenes with the monkey and Keira Knightley because he didn't think anyone would look at him otherwise.

Criticism[edit | edit source]

  • The current IMDb user rating is 8.0 (out of 10) stars. [1]
  • The critics' tomatometer, at RottenTomatoes, is 79%. The current user rating is 94%. [2]
  • The average user rating, at Metacritic, is 8.9 (out of 10) stars. [3]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. m-w.com. Definition of parley. Retrieved on 26 March 2006.

External links[edit | edit source]

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