Watch Pirates of the Caribbean 1: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie
Pirates of the Caribbean 1: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Blacksmith Will Turner teams up with eccentric pirate “Captain” Jack Sparrow to save his love, the governor’s daughter, from Jack’s former pirate allies, who are now undead.
Pirates of the Caribbean 1: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a 2003 American fantasy swashbuckler film directed by Gore Verbinski and the first film in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer, the film is based on Walt Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disney theme parks.
The story follows pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) as they rescue the kidnapped Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) from the cursed crew of the Black Pearl, captained by Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who become undead skeletons in moonlight.
Jay Wolpert developed a script in 2001, and Stuart Beattie rewrote it in early 2002. Around that time, producer Jerry Bruckheimer became involved in the project; he had Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio work on the script, adding the plot device of a supernatural curse to the story to bring it in line with the original theme park ride. Filming took place from October 2002 to March 2003 in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and on sets constructed around Los Angeles, California.
The first film released under the Walt Disney Pictures banner to be rated PG-13 by the MPAA, The Curse of the Black Pearl had its world premiere at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, on June 28, 2003. Defying low pre-release expectations, the film was a huge box-office success, grossed $654.3 million worldwide; making it the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2003. It received generally positive reviews from critics, with Depp’s performance receiving universal acclaim.
The film has been widely cited as the film that launched Depp as a box-office leading man after many years as a cult movie star. Depp won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, in addition to Best Actor nominations at the Academy Awards, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes. The Curse of the Black Pearl was also nominated for four other Academy Awards and BAFTAs.
The film became the first in a franchise, with two back-to-back sequels, Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, released in 2006 and 2007. Two more sequels, On Stranger Tides and Dead Men Tell No Tales, were released in 2011 and 2017, respectively.
Pirates of the Caribbean 1: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Trailer
Pirates of the Caribbean 1: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Reviews
It’s fun at first to see a pirate swordfight, but eventually it gets to the point where the sword-clashing, yardarm-swinging and timber-shivering get repetitious. I also lost count of how many times Jack Sparrow is the helpless captive of both the British and the pirates, and escapes from the chains/brig/noose/island.
And yet the movie made me grin at times, and savor the daffy plot, and enjoy the way Depp and Rush fearlessly provide performances that seem nourished by deep wells of nuttiness. Depp in particular seems to be channeling a drunken drag queen, with his eyeliner and the way he minces ashore and slurs his dialogue ever so insouciantly. Don’t mistake me: This is not a criticism, but admiration for his work.
It can be said that his performance is original in its every atom. There has never been a pirate, or for that matter a human being, like this in any other movie. There’s some talk about how he got too much sun while he was stranded on that island, but his behavior shows a lifetime of rehearsal. He is a peacock in full display.
Consider how boring it would have been if Depp had played the role straight, as an Errol Flynn or Douglas Fairbanks (Sr. or Jr.) might have. To take this material seriously would make it unbearable. Capt. Sparrow’s behavior is so rococo that other members of the cast actually comment on it. And yet because it is consistent and because you can never catch Depp making fun of the character, it rises to a kind of cockamamie sincerity.
Geoffrey Rush is relatively subdued–but only by contrast. His Barbossa, whose teeth alone would intimidate a congregation of dentists, brings gnashing to an art form.
She truly loves the handsome young swordsmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), whom she met when they were both children, after spotting him adrift on a raft with a golden pirate medallion around his neck, which turns out to hold the key to the curse. Jack Sparrow takes a fatherly interest in young Turner, especially when he discovers who his father was … and that is quite enough of the plot.
Bloom is well cast in a severely limited role as the heroic straight-arrow. He has the classic profile of a silent-film star. Knightley you will recall as the best friend of the heroine in “Bend It Like Beckham,” where she had a sparkle altogether lacking here.
Truth be told, she doesn’t generate enough fire to explain why these swashbucklers would risk their lives for her, and in closeup, seems composed when she should smolder. Parminder K. Nagra, the star of “Beckham,” might have been a more spirited choice.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” is “based on” the theme park ride at Disney World, which I have taken many times. It is also inspired (as the ride no doubt was) by the rich tradition of pirate movies, and excels in such departments as buried treasure, pirates’ caves, pet parrots and walking the plank, although there is a shortage of eye patches and hooks.
The author Dave Eggers reportedly plans to open a Pirates’ Store, complete with planks measured and made to order, and “The Curse of the Black Pearl” plays like his daydreams.
Pirates of the Caribbean 1: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Credits
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow
Geoffrey Rush as Capt. Barbossa
Jonathan Pryce as The Governor
Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann
Orlando Bloom as Will Turner
Jack Davenport as Norrington
Damian O’Hare as Lt. Gillette
Lee Arenberg as Pintel
MacKenzie Crook as Ragetti
Giles as Murtogg
- Gore Verbinski
- Ted Elliott
- Terry Rossio
- Jay Wolpert
Pirates of the Caribbean 1: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Plot
In 1720, while sailing to Port Royal, Jamaica, aboard HMS Dauntless, Governor Weatherby Swann, his daughter Elizabeth and crew encounter a shipwreck and recover a boy, Will Turner. Elizabeth discovers a golden pirate medallion around his neck and takes it. Eight years later, Captain James Norrington is promoted to commodore and proposes to Elizabeth.
Her corset makes her faint and fall into the sea, causing the medallion to emit a pulse. Captain Jack Sparrow, having just arrived in Port Royal to commandeer a ship, rescues Elizabeth. Norrington identifies Jack as a pirate, and a chase ensues. Jack encounters Will, now a blacksmith. They duel, and Jack is imprisoned. That night, the Black Pearl attacks Port Royal, searching for the medallion.
The crew of the Pearl captures Elizabeth, taking her to meet Captain Barbossa. Elizabeth claims her last name is Turner to conceal her identity as the governor’s daughter. Barbossa explains that the medallion is one of 882 gold pieces that his crew took from a treasure of Hernán Cortés on Isla de Muerta as a payment to stop the massacre against the Aztecs but Cortes, being too greedy, rejected it, and the Aztec gods put a curse on the treasure.
This cursed Barbossa and his crew, turning them into immortals who appear skeletal in moonlight. Barbossa and his crew have returned all but one of the pieces, with Elizabeth’s medallion being the final piece. Barbossa takes her prisoner, believing she is the daughter of William “Bootstrap Bill” Turner, Will’s father and a previous crewmate of the Pearl, whose blood is needed to lift the curse, and who Barbossa killed after he sent the medallion to Will as revenge for the mutiny against Jack.
Will frees Jack to rescue Elizabeth, whom Will loves. Jack, the previous captain of the Black Pearl before Barbossa staged a mutiny, makes a deal with Will to reclaim his ship. The two commandeer HMS Interceptor, a small sloop-of-war, and head for Tortuga. There, Jack enlists his friend Joshamee Gibbs to help them assemble a crew. Chasing the Pearl to the Isla de Muerta, Will and Jack witness Barbossa sacrificing Elizabeth’s blood and returning the final gold piece. The curse is not lifted.
Will rescues Elizabeth and brings her to the Interceptor, while Jack is captured by Barbossa and locked in the brig of the Pearl. The Pearl pursues the Interceptor, destroying the ship and taking Jack’s crew hostage. Will makes a deal with Barbossa to release Elizabeth in exchange for his blood, but Barbossa exploits a loophole in the agreement, marooning Jack and Elizabeth on an island. Elizabeth makes a smoke signal, and Norrington brings the Dauntless to rescue Elizabeth and arrest Jack.
Elizabeth asks Norrington to pursue the Pearl and save Will, persuading him by accepting Norrington’s marriage proposal.
That night, the Dauntless arrives at Isla de Muerta. Jack tells Norrington he will lure the pirates out to be ambushed by the crew of the Dauntless, but instead persuades Barbossa’s crew to attack the Dauntless before they lift the curse and lose their immortality. Elizabeth escapes the Dauntless and frees Jack’s crew from the brig of the Pearl. They refuse to rescue Jack and Will, so Elizabeth sets out on her own while Jack’s crew depart aboard the Pearl.
Jack again switches sides, freeing Will and dueling Barbossa, while Elizabeth and Will fight off Barbossa’s crewmen. When Barbossa stabs Jack, it is revealed that Jack took a piece of gold from the chest and is likewise cursed and unable to die. Jack shoots Barbossa, and Will returns both coins to the chest with his and Jack’s blood on them. The curse is lifted; Barbossa dies from Jack’s gunshot, and the rest of Barbossa’s crew, no longer immortal, are arrested.
At Port Royal, Jack is to be hanged for piracy. Elizabeth diverts Norrington’s attention while Will attempts a rescue, but Jack and Will are surrounded. Elizabeth intercedes and declares her love for Will. Governor Swann pardons Will and gives his blessing for Elizabeth to marry him. Jack dives into the sea and escapes aboard the nearby Pearl, reclaiming the ship and his new crew. Norrington permits Jack and the Pearl “one day’s head start” before initiating pursuit.
Pirates of the Caribbean 1: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Box office
Before its release, many journalists expected Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl to be a flop. The pirate genre had not been successful for years, with Cutthroat Island (1995) being a notable flop. The film was also based on a theme park ride, and Depp, known mostly for starring in cult films at the time, had little track record as a box-office leading man.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl opened at #1, grossing $46,630,690 in its opening weekend and $70,625,971 since its Wednesday launch. It eventually made its way to $654,264,015 worldwide ($305,413,918 domestically and $348,850,097 overseas), becoming the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2003. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 50.64 million tickets in the US.
Internationally it dominated for seven consecutive weekends at the box office, tying the record of Men in Black II at the time. Only three movies after that broke the record; its sequel, Dead Man’s Chest, (with nine consecutive #1 weekends and ten in total), Avatar (with 11 consecutive #1 weekends) and The Smurfs (with eight consecutive #1 weekends). As of February 2021, it is the 141st-highest-grossing film of all time.
Pirates of the Caribbean 1: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Critical Response
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl has an approval rating of 80% based on 220 reviews, and an average rating of 7.11/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “It may leave you exhausted like the theme park ride that inspired it; however, you’ll have a good time when it’s over.”
At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating to reviews, the film received an average score of 63 out of 100, based on reviews from 40 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A” on an A+ to F scale.
Alan Morrison of Empire felt it was “the best blockbuster of the summer,” acclaiming all the comic performances despite his disappointment with the swashbuckling sequences.
The performance of Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow was particularly praised by critics and audiences alike. Review site PopMatters applauds Depp’s performance by saying “Ingenious and mesmerizing, Johnny Depp embodies the film’s essential fantasy, that a pirate’s life is exciting and unfettered.” James Berardinelli of ReelViews also applauds Depp’s performance by saying “Pirates of the Caribbean belongs to Johnny Depp…Take away Depp, and you’re left with a derivative and dull motion picture.”
Roger Ebert acclaimed the performances of Depp and Rush, and particularly that “It can be said that [Depp’s] performance is original in its every atom. There has never been a pirate, or for that matter a human being, like this in any other movie… his behavior shows a lifetime of rehearsal.”
However, he felt the film went on for too long, a criticism shared by Kenneth Turan’s negative review, feeling it “spends far too much time on its huge supporting cast of pirates (nowhere near as entertaining as everyone assumes) and on bloated adventure set pieces,” despite having also enjoyed Depp’s performance. Mark Kermode described the film as “a triumph of turgid theme-park hackery over the art of cinema”.
Pirates of the Caribbean 1: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Accolades
For his performance as Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp won several awards, including Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role at the 10th Screen Actors Guild Awards, Best Male Performance at the 2004 MTV Movie Awards, and Best Actor at the 9th Empire Awards.
Depp was also nominated for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy at the 61st Golden Globe Awards, Best Actor in a Leading Role at the 57th British Academy Film Awards, and Best Actor at the 76th Academy Awards, in which The Curse of the Black Pearl also received nominations for Best Makeup, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects.
Awards won by Curse of the Black Pearl include Best Make-up/Hair at the 57th British Academy Film Awards, Saturn Award for Best Costumes, Golden Reel Award for Sound Editing, two VES Awards for Visual Effects, and the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture.
Pirates of the Caribbean 1: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Movie Info
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