Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
There are many instances were historical reality and historical perception takes radically different paths. A large part of this is the fact that inevitably the victors write the history books but cultural acceptance is frequently the press and popular fiction can provide an unrealistic view of the events and people that shaped our past. One prime examples of this can be found with the perception of pirates. Their exploits have been greatly exaggerated and romanticized over the many years since they roamed the seas in search of plunder. The men currently active in this heinous profession have been in the news recently reminding the public that they are brutal, violent men thinking only of the accumulation of money. Since they don’t dress or sound like the pirates of fiction it is possible for the public to disassociate today’s sea faring thieves with the subject of so many novels and movies. One of the most popular and lucrative entertainment franchises ever is from the epitome of family entertainment, the Walt Disney Studio in the form of the ongoing ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ series. So far the profits of the first three films in the franchise have been in the billions; far in excess of the gross national product of the empires the real pirates plundered. This mind boggling box office receipts toping well over a billion dollars is all the evidence necessary to prove the romantic, adventurous persona of the pirate is far from out dated. In fact as evident here a lot of people want to escape this technocratic world with a couple of hours of pure swashbuckling excitement, romance and adventures. To think that the original premise or at least the initial germ of an idea for this first film was derived from one of the oldest rides in the Disney World theme park. To me, using a popular song as the basis of a film seemed too much of a stretch so the concept of basing a movie on a ride appeared ridiculous. Such lack of business acumen is precisely why I’m sitting here writing about a billion dollar flick instead of living off of it. At least the imaginative folks over at Disney know what they are doing so we can enjoy incredibly fun movies like this one.
The story and resulting screenplay for this opening salvo of this juggernaut box office sensation came from the ingenious team of Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott. They worked on the Sci-Fi fantasy flick, ‘Small Soldiers’ together and cut their literary teeth on the usual scripts working expeditiously up to this franchise. What impressed me most about the way they carefully crafted this story is the sheer exuberance it projects. It just seems that the cast and crew had an incredibly great deal of fun making this movie and that translates to the effect it has on the audience. From a screenplay perspective the story hits every one of the standard requirements for a successful script. There is a tutorial written Tom Laughlin of ‘Billy Jack’ fame that details nine essential ingredients to a hit screenplay. This film easily hits all nine of these elements with élan. In fact, this movie is the embodiment of the principles that Mr. Laughlin so diligently gathered. These factors range from the very obvious such as clearly defined villains and heroes to the more esoteric like the ever popular ‘sword of Damocles. In short this screenplay is the nearly perfect format for a film to hit big. While the return on investment is vitally import, especially to the bottom line executives at the studio, what matters to the fans is the movie is even better than any ride in an amusement park. You don’t watch this film that is far too passive a description. You experience this film and much like a great ride the entertainment value doesn’t diminish with subsequent rides.
One of the required aspects is a strong romantic thread. This is necessary not only for a humanizing element but to give the ladies in the audience something to get into. I know that sounds sexists but more women look for romance in a story than men. To that end you have to have a beautiful woman and a handsome young man provided here by Keira Knightly as the fair maiden Elizabeth Swann and Orlando Bloom as the lower class sword smith, Will Turner. Elizabeth is high born to the British governor of the island but within her bodes beats the heart of a pirate. They have known each other from childhood but the difference in social status kept them apart. The action gets started with the appearance of the dastardly pirate of ill renown, Captain Jack Sparrow brilliantly portrayed by Johnny Depp with a flourish and style only he could pull off. He manifests a certain swagger that brings back the over recalls some over the top pirates of Hollywood’s golden age. He provides the definitive and highly recognizable good guy even though in true pirate fashion he is a scoundrel. He’ll make a deal and unapologetically break it; after all he is a pirate. Opposing him is an equally unabashed villain embodied by Geoffrey Rush as the nefarious Captain Barossa.
The ticking clock is presented as the time runs down to free the crew of the Black Pearl from a curse that keeps them roaming the seas caught between life and death. This intensifies the sense of excitement that pervades the film. In fact the entire movie is designed for the ultimate in enjoyment and succeeds in practically every point. There is no doubt at all while the studio quickly made sure the cast and crew would return for three additional movies. This movie pulled me in immediately not letting go for the duration of its running time. The Blu-ray edition of the film is spectacular. The blue of the seas and sky are contrasted against the detailed textures inherent in the costumes creating a level of realism that will take your breath away. The lossless audio enfolds you shaking the living room as the cannons roar to life.
Games & Activities - Scoundrels of the Sea