Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a fantasy tale set at Port Royal, Jamaica, a seventeenth century fortress in the Caribbean (though actually filmed at St. Vincent), directed by Gore Verbinski. There is no native or slave population, just pompous British and mangy pirates. Caribbean pirates are featured as a videogame and as a Disney World ride, so expectations ride high about the film. Early in the movie, two conflicts are identified. One is a love triangle involving Elizabeth Swann (played by Keira Knightley), the daughter of the Governor of the colony, Weatherby Swann (played by Jonathan Pryce). Although the Governor expects her to marry blueblood Commander Norrington (played by Jack Davenport), who commands the colony’s garrison, her best male friend from childhood is Will Turner (played by Orlando Bloom), a mere blacksmith who forges swords for the troops. The second conflict involves Captain Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp), who commanded the Black Pearl pirate ship until a mutiny led by Barbossa Swann (played by Geoffrey Rush). Barbossa forced him to exile on a small, barren island with only a revolver, a bullet, his outrageous pirate garb, and plenty of black mascara, knowing that he would suffer brain damage. One day, as Elizabeth is about to be betrothed to Norrington, Captain Sparrow shows up in port alone. When she accidentally falls into the sea, he rescues her, but when he reappears on land, he is identified as a pirate, is captured, and is sentenced to death; but soon he escapes via acrobatic moves reminiscent of Jacky Chan’s choreography (a feat repeated much later when he again escapes the gallows). In time, the mutinous Black Pearl crew arrives to ravage the port, and battles ensue back and forth for much of an overlong film. When the pirates kidnap Elizabeth, Will Turner engages Sparrow to rescue her while the Royal Navy clumsily attempts the same feat. As for the curse mentioned in the title, the mutinous crew turns into skeletons at night, though somehow the Royal Navy ultimately defeats them in the daytime after battling all night nonstop. There is no doubt that the two conflicts will be resolved happily, thanks to formulaic scenes, cartoonish characters, and surreal swordplay. MH

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