Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a movie of adventure and romance set in the Caribbean during the seventeenth century. It is based on the Pirates of the Caribbean attractions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. This movie stars Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, and Jack Davenport. It is directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

It was released on July 9, 2003. As of March 16, 2004, it had grossed at the box office more than $653 million worldwide; the 21st highest grossing movie ever. It proved to be a success for Walt Disney Pictures and within weeks of release they announced a sequel was in development, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, slated for release in 2005/2006.

When production for the film was first announced in early 2002, movie fans and critics were skeptical of its chances of being a success. The concept of Disney basing a movie upon one of its own theme park rides seemed to many a crass marketing ploy. The genre of pirate themed movies had also seen a string of high budget flops with Cutthroat Island and Treasure Planet, among others. Critics were pleasantly surprised to find the film an enjoyable swashbuckler, and the movie became a huge box office success, grossing over $300 million in North America alone. The film also received several Academy Award nominations, including a Best Actor nomination for Johnny Depp. However, the poor reception received by other Disney films based upon its theme park attractions (The Country Bears, The Haunted Mansion) suggested that the success of Pirates of the Caribbean was an exception and not the rule.

It was believed that the movie was partially inspired from Monkey Island, and similarities have been drawn between Barbossa and LeChuck. Most hold that this is coincidental, since both are inspired from the theme ride. On the other hand, it is still believed that the makers have put intentional references from the games as a tribute.

Tagline: Prepare to be blown out of the water.



Shortly after his arrival at Port Royal, Jamaica, destitute pirate Captain Jack Sparrow rescues the governor?s daughter, Elizabeth Swann, from drowning and is subsequently jailed for his lifestyle. It is during these actions that Jack meets Will Turner, the local blacksmith's apprentice who is infatuated with Elizabeth but is too afraid to admit his feelings to her. That night, Port Royal is besieged by the infamous ghost ship the Black Pearl, a pure black vessel crewed by a vicious, bloodthirsty crew, and captained by a man claimed to be so evil, Hell itself spat him back out. The crew, once under the orders of Jack Sparrow himself until they mutinied ten years ago, kidnaps Elizabeth, whose claim that her last name was Turner and possession of a golden medallion emblemized with a skull and crossbones satisfies the captain of the Black Pearl (and former first mate of Jack), Barbossa, enough to cease his attack on Port Royal in exchange for both the trinket and her. The next day, Will discovers Elizabeth's disappearance and, thwarted in his efforts to convince the royal navy into pursuing the culprits by lead officer Commodore James Norrington (despite the captain's own feelings towards Elizabeth), takes up an offer by Jack to rescue Elizabeth in exchange for breaking him out. After absconding with one of the royal navy's ships and assembling a crew to man it, Jack and Will set off to find Barbosa and the Black Pearl, who themselves are heading towards Isla de Muerta, a mysterious island that's supposedly undiscoverable save for those who already know where it is.

It is here where we learn the true intentions of Barbosa and his crew: the island contains a cursed Aztec treasure that the crew of the Black Pearl - under Jack at the time - discovered. Shortly afterwards, Barbosa and the crew mutinied against Jack and stranded him on a deserted island. Shocked by this action, Will's father, "Bootstrap" Bill Turner, sends one of the cursed gold pieces away to his son in order to ensure a fitting punishment for the crew's betrayal. In retaliation, Barbossa orders Bootstrap to be thrown overboard, only to realize too late that the curse was indeed real and in order to break it they were required to return all the pieces of the treasure to its chest and give a blood sacrifice from everyone who removed them. As such, the crew's gluttony, greed, and lust for worldly possessions corrupts them to the point that they become undead, forced to never die or rest in their covetousness (moonlight reveals this fact, showing the pirates in its glare to be living rotting skeletons). After ten years, they have succeeded in fulfilling the requirements to end the curse except for the blood of Bootstrap Bill and the gold piece he stole, and with the medallion (in reality the last piece of the treasure) and Elizabeth in their custody, Barbossa believes he finally has what he needs to lift the curse.

Jack and William confront Barbosa and his crew at the same time they learn Elizabeth is not the child of Bootstrap Bill. Will, however - learning of Jack's intentions to trade him for repossession of the Black Pearl - knocks Jack out and gets them both captured in a failed attempt to rescue Elizabeth. Elizabeth and Jack are stranded on the same island Jack was stranded on ten years ago, while Will is taken back to complete the requirements to end the curse. Elizabeth and Jack are eventually rescued by Norrington, but is unable to convince him to go back and rescue William until Elizabeth promises to marry him.

Once arriving at the cursed island, Jack convinces Norrington's forces to lay in ambush for Barbossa's crew while he goes in and convinces them to come out. He is successful, but convinces Barbossa to hold off on spilling Will's blood and breaking the curse until after they succeeded in destroying the British fleet waiting for them. This proves to all be part of Jack's plan, however, as soon after the rest of the Black Pearl crew engages the navy, he steals one of the cursed coins and engages in his own battle with his former first mate. Just in time, he distracts Barbossa long enough for both he and Will to complete the requirements of ending the curse, thereby reverting the Black Pearl crew mortal once again and preventing Barbossa from surviving Jack's pistol shot to his chest. Once realizing they're no longer cursed, Barbossa's crew surrenders.

Back at Port Royal, Norrington is forced to hang Jack as per law, but Will, who believes him decent enough a person to not deserve death, rescues Jack. This sudden defiance by Will, as well as his confession of love towards her, inspires Elizabeth to reject marriage to Norrington and declare her feelings for Will instead. Norrington agrees to release her from her promise and Will is pardoned for his criminal act while Jack escapes into the ocean, rescued by the crew he assembled to help him and Will earlier in the movie, who now man the Black Pearl. As the movie ends, Norrington watches as Jack sets sail for unknown adventure, impressed by the pirate enough to allow him a one day's head start before setting out in pursuit.


Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (Shrek, The Mask of Zorro) and others created a script noted for its witty lines and challenge-response jokes. Two examples:

Barbossa: There are a lot of long words in there, Miss; we're naught but humble pirates. What is it that you want?
He makes good use of irony a few lines later when he says:
Barbossa: I'm disinclined to acquiesce to your request. Means "no".
Norrington: You are without doubt the worst pirate I've ever heard of.
Jack: But you have heard of me.

The wordplay was well suited to both Geoffrey Rush's and especially Johnny Depp's unusual style and worked well throughout the film. The script is available here ( (popup warning).

The plot bears similarities to that of the computer game series Monkey Island, also based on the Disney ride.


In interviews, Johnny Depp stated that he had based his persona for Captain Jack Sparrow upon legendary guitarist Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, with some influence from cartoon character Pepe Le Pew. Depp is also a cameo character in Kingdom Hearts 2 as Jack Sparrow. There is also supposedly a Pirates of the Caribbean 'world' in the upcoming game.

The Black Pearl exists and is a real ship, one of the last surviving wooden schooners. It can be found in Ta' Xbiex, Malta.


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean 3


All awards are from 2004, unless otherwise noted.

Academy Awards

Art Directors Guild

  • Nominee, Excellence in Production Design Award, Feature Film - Period or Fantasy Film, Brian Morris

ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards

BAFTA Awards

Golden Globes

  • Nominee, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, Johnny Depp

The Eddies, American Cinema Editors, USA

Saturn Awards, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • Winner, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, Johnny Depp

External links


Fan sites

fr:Pirates des Carabes : La maldiction du Black Pearl it:La maledizione della prima luna ja:パイレーツ・オブ・カリビアン/呪われた海賊たち nl:Pirates of the Caribbean: The curse of the Black Pearl sv:Pirates of the Caribbean zh:加勒比海盗


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