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The Pirates of The Caribbean: Curse of The Black Pearl: Film Analysis

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Audience
  3. The Caribbean Society
  4. Represented Aspects of the Readings
  5. Conclusion


The Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl is a 2003 movie the first of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. It follows the story of Captain Jack Sparrow’s quest to retake control of the Black Pearl. Captain Barbosa commands the Pearl after he leads mutiny against Jack Sparrow. Barbosa and his crew steal a cursed treasure that turns them into the walking dead. Presently they are attempting to recover the last gold medallion that Will Turner had but is now held by Elizabeth Swan a captive of Barbosa. Will and Jack Sparrow form a shaky alliance in order to save Elizabeth Swan and retrieve the Black Pearl, whereas Barbosa is on a mission to break the curse. The paper discusses the audience, the relationship with the Caribbean society, and the represented aspects in the class readings for the film Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.

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The Curse of the Black Pearl’s intended audience is an age group of both the males and females above the age of 13. The target audience also has a love for pirate folklore and legends, fictional movies, and stories about voyages across the ocean. The audience has probably interacted with books such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, a sage of pirates, mutiny, and lost gold. Thus, this is a story that fits well into the Curse of the Black Pearl’s theme of pirates, mutiny, and mysterious cursed gold.

The audience has also been influenced by Tim Powers’ novel On Stranger Tides, which also inspired the fourth film in the franchise Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides. The book tells a tale of a pirate venturing on a quest to rescue an English maiden and also recover back his lost inheritance. A theme was seen in Curse of the Black Pearl where Will Turner engages Jack Sparrow’s help to save his love interest Elizabeth Swan. In the process, he recovers a golden medallion his father had passed on him. Another target group would also be gamers who enjoyed playing the adventure game The Curse of Monkey Island. The main character is on a quest to lift the curse placed on his love interest and his rivalry with Captain LeChuck, an old nemesis and a French buccaneer who is intent on capturing him.

The Caribbean Society

One of the significant characteristics of Caribbean society that is missing from the film is the use of slaves. During the late 15th and the early 16th centuries, Europeans started exploiting these areas for their mineral resources and also for agricultural production (‘Caribbean’). To sustain these labor-intensive industries, they were forced to employ the use of forced labor. At first, they used labor from the indigenous communities, but over time, they were replaced by a cheaper form of labor provided by captured Africans who were forced into slavery.

In the movie The Curse of the Black Pearl, Governor Weatherby Swann’s household is looked after by white servants. The situation is in direct contrast to white households that existed at the time. During this period, the slave trade was beginning to grow, especially in the Caribbean. Most families preferred this cheaper form of labor which lasted until the slave died. Even governors had to use this labor, especially if they wanted to stay in the good graces of their European citizens in their colonies.

Represented Aspects of the Readings

In Michael-Rolph Trouillot’s The Caribbean Region: An Open Frontier in Anthropological Theory, he explains why the Caribbean is an undisciplined region. Aside from the genocide of some indigenous tribe like the Arawaks and the Caribs, the Caribbean is ever-changing. There is forceful enslavement of Africans and the abolishment of slavery. The Caribbean was not white enough neither was it indigenous enough; hence, its description as an undisciplined region (Trouillot 20). The same is represented in the Curse of the Black Pearl. Tortuga Island is filled with pirates who are either fighting or drunk. The seas are not under the control of any particular power, and the Black Pearl’s leadership is also always changing.

Trouillot also explains that the Caribbean is one of the most heterogeneous regions. It is a multiracial, multilingual, multicultural, and also home to multiple religions. In the Curse of the Black Pearl, this diversification is not represented. There is the only use of one language that is English; only England is described; the majority of the cast is white with a few black people. Only one local pagan religion is depicted. In the book Race and Color in the Caribbean, there is a similarity of depictions of social class with the movie. In the film, there is a clear difference in the social class with residents of Jamaica. Governor Swan has a large house and servants while the locals like Will Turner live in small wooden houses. Even during Commodore’s Norrington promotion, only a few upper-class members were invited. No common folks were invited to the party which was held at the ports fort away from the locals. Hoetink points out that in areas where there were few whites, and the local population was not pressured by the scarcity of land. There were clear distinctions between white people and the blacks (Hoetink 7). The white community was clearly favored and they held the sit of power.

The differences between the two are vast. The Caribbean was home to a large population of black people; however, this is hugely neglected in the movie. The Caribbean was home to different language groups from the natives to the Europeans and African slaves. In the film on one language, English was represented (The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation). Various economic activities were pursued in the Caribbean, like mining and agriculture. Illegal activities, like smuggling, were also prevalent. In the movie, pirating has been portrayed as the only alternative to earn a living aside from being a statesman, military men, and servicemen.

Jesse Cromwell’s Trans-imperial Caribbean Sinew Populations investigates other aspects of the Caribbean aside from slavery and plantations. Soldiers and militiamen are one aspect of his paper and the Curse of the Black Pearl. The Spanish, English, and French used their militaries to conquer land, maintain control over their regions, to protect their citizens and vast sugar plantations. On the other hand, in the movie, the British use their army to defend its Jamaican territories. The navy was used to defeat pirates so that the British kingdom could also control the ocean.

Cromwell then mentions other players in this region such as the smugglers. Smuggling was an illicit trade yet a large one nevertheless. Some businessmen smuggled their goods passed colonial governments to avoid paying taxes. As a result, this was a trade that involved some colonial officers because it was highly lucrative. Cromwell also mentions that not all Europeans in the region were British, Spanish, or French. Some of the Europeans were also Jews, Scots, and Irish men. They recognized the economic potential of the Caribbean and moved to try their luck. These two players do not figure in the Curse of the Black Pearl at all further decreasing the movie’s historical correctness.

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The Curse of the Black Pearl is a highly fictionalized movie that majorly centers on piracy. It is worth noting that it relies heavily on fictionalized folklore and legends like the cursed treasure and Jack Sparrow’s compass that only points to that which the owner wants most. Aside from the fact that it is set in the Caribbean, it pays no heed to the beliefs, the people, and culture that should have been present at the time. Instead, it weaves its society, culture, and people.

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