Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Kiera Knightly, Geoffrey Rush, Jack Davenport, Jonathon Pryce, Kevin McNally, Mackenzie Crook, Lee Arenberg
Instalments: The Curse of The Black Pearl, Dead Man's Chest, At World's End
Infamous pirate Jack Sparrow and Will Turner embark on a quest to rescue Elizabeth Swann, daughter of the Governor of Port Royal from her captor, the fearsome pirate Barbossa. A friendship, however reluctant, is formed between our group of heroes and they must unite to defeat a common enemy, all while cracking jokes and somehow surviving perilous situation after perilous situation!
“You best start believing in ghost stories Miss Turner. You’re in one.”
Set in the 1700s and featuring an incredible cast, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise features an initial trilogy which was so successful it was followed by two standalone and is still in production almost twenty years after the release of the first film in 2003. The trilogy follows the journeys of several different groups, not all of them pirates. At least not to begin with!
Blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Kiera Knightly) the Governor's daughter have been friends since childhood when they met on the crossing from England. The two spend their lives separated by a difference in societal status, Elizabeth ranks above Will but cannot seem to keep away from him, insisting he calls her by her name instead of Miss Swann as is deemed proper. It's made clear as soon as we see the two together as adults that society forbids them to be together, but that is the path that both of them want to choose.
However, the two soon cross paths again when Elizabeth is taken hostage by a “man so evil that hell itself spat him back out,” Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Will seek the help of famed pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in an attempt to rescue her. The plot continues to thicken throughout the film, as we see the relationships between Will and Elizabeth and Jack and Barbossa evolve and as an audience, we come to love each one of them, even the villains. James Norrington (Jack Davenport) and Barbossa are extraordinarily likeable characters despite both leading teams of pirates or soldiers against the franchise’s main characters in the first film and this transpire throughout the entire franchise.
The casting of each film in the franchise is exceptional, and the roles of each character are filled incredibly well. The actors work incredibly well together and fulfil each character in the best way possible. Jack and Barbossa continue to develop a friendship full of banter and comedic jabs at one another while still finding creative and unexpected solutions to each and every problem thrown at them. With Barbossa having joined forces with the pirates, a new villain was needed. Only having one, however, where’s the fun in that?
The second film, Dead Man’s Chest sees the introduction of two new characters destined to oppose the main group we’ve grown so attached. The first is introduced in the first scene, Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) leads the British to storm Elizabeth’s wedding. His cold and contained tone works so effectively with Beckett as a character and directly opposes the viscous and wild demeanour of Davy Jones. The pair make a fearsome duo and when united against those they perceive as a common enemy, they provide a solid foundation for an armada.
As for the production, it can only be described as amazing! For a franchise which started early in the 2000s the editing and CGI come together extremely effectively both with the backgrounds, the armada and characters such as Davy Jones and his crew. It's no surprise that The Curse of The Black Pearl won the 2004 best visual effects Oscar and no wonder that Johnny Depp picked up the award for best actor the same year. The amazingly realistic visuals combined with Hans Zimmer’s original score, which also evolves along with the storyline, create an incredible narrative that has the audience hooked despite the complexity of the plotline.
The Pirates of The Caribbean score has been incredibly well-tailored to the films, with themes for both individual characters such as Davy Jones, themes for different moods and themes to hint at the future of the characters. The soundtrack fits effortlessly into each scene, a lot of the time having an effect so subtle that the audience doesn't even realise where the rise in tension is coming from. Zimmer’s score is highly effective and is incredibly popular without the context of the visuals too. If you haven't had the pleasure of hearing them, have a listen here (The Curse of The Black Pearl, Dead Man's Chest, At World's End).
Pirates of The Caribbean is definitely worth a watch and should certainly be on your watchlist if it isn't already! From the plotline to the a-list cast, the trilogy handles a seriously fun but sinister plot while still having a punchline every few seconds to keep the mood light and make the characters impossible not to like!
"This is the day you will always remember as the day you almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow"
Words by Chloe Pollard.
Trailer from YouTube - Movie Clips Classic Trailers.