Cinematic Adventures of Caribbean Pirates
These films have sparked a huge fanbase with its outlandish storyline, memorable characters and special effects, remaining one of the most successful films adapted from a Disney ride.
Under the moonlight, the filthy pirates turn into horrific skeletons that pull the sail and steer as if they were alive; when dark clouds keep out the moon, the skeletons turn back into humans and continue to deride and taunt on deck as though nothing happened. They are pirates forced to bear the curse of undeath because of the cursed gold coins. They have to find all the gold coins they took away and return them to become human again…
The film Pirates of the Caribbean I: The Curse of the Black Pearl first released on the big screen in 2003 sparks an upsurge of “pirates” worldwide. Sequels of Pirates of the Caribbean have been released one after another. People are not only interested in characters such as cunning Captain Jack Sparrow, blacksmith of the town Will Turner and beautiful and wild Elizabeth, but also delighted in the fantastic elements that include enormous sea monsters, world's end, beautiful but dangerous mermaid, etc. Over a decade, Pirates of the Caribbean franchise have earned billions of dollars of worldwide box office by dint of tempestuous plots, distinctive characters and magnificent special effects. Countless fans have been attracted to visit Disneyland to experience the seafaring life of Captain Jack. The series adapted from a recreation facility has become one of the most successful films.
In 2003, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl directed by Gore Verbinski was released. Many audiences who entered the cinema without any preparation but enjoyed a unique viewing experience of the movie. The story was set in a wonderland that was unusually brilliant and even a little scary. The burning question was, “Why did the world that do not exist look familiar?”
The story begins with a recreation facility at Disneyland. In 1967, a yacht-like recreation facility themed with pirates was newly added to the rides at Disneyland after it began operation for over 10 years. It was designed and constructed by Walt Disney, the founder of Disneyland. The recreation facility is not complicated but it attracted a large number of tourists. Despite modification and renovation over the decades, it remains as one of the hot zones in Disneyland. At the beginning of the 21st century, Disney decided on an unrestrained gambling to adapt the concepts of a recreation facility into a film, which turned out to be Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Compared to many other film companies, Disney was undoubtedly “going out on a limb” when most film companies would adopt mature or widely spread stories or characters as the theme or leading roles. Only a tycoon like Disney was willing to take the risk since there was sufficient resources. The film project was in need of a producer who was well versed in business. So when Disney decided to shoot this film, everyone thought Jerry Bruckheimer, a Hollywood producer , would be the best person to take over.
Jerry Bruckheimer is a producer with a strong personal style whose films will always become “commercial masterpieces,” relying on turbulent film rhythms, intense and shocking visual effects as well as highly distinctive narrative modes. When Disney expressed its intention, Jerry Bruckheime was just about to make a film about pirates. They gained cooperation immediately. Jerry Bruckheime got Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, screenwriters of Shrek involved. They wanted to create a script for pirates after the completion of Aladdin in 1992, but no film companies were interested in their ideas. By then, they already had the concept for ten years.
Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio felt happy when they received the support from Disney Pictures and were recognised by Jerry Bruckheimer. They decided to integrate preternatural elements into the story, turning an ordinary pirate story into an adventure on the sea combined with risks and fantasies. In this way, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl wascreated: Led by Captain Barbossa, pirates of the “Black Pearl” sacked the town and kidnapped prefectural daughter Elizabeth, in order to remove the curse on gold coins. Will Turner, who had been in love with Elizabeth for a long time, reached an agreement with former Captain Jack Sparrow of the “Black Pearl”, who was a sworn enemy, Barbossa. Two of them stole one sailing ship from the British Fleet under the watchful eyes of the soldiers and started a thrilling adventure with the “Black Pearl” in the Caribbean Sea.
Although the historical period for the story in Pirates of the Caribbean is not specified, the creator have selected a period between 1720 and 1750 at the end of the heyday of piracy in the history for the film to have an historical background. To perfect settings on relevant historical backgrounds, they invited Peter Twist as consultant. Peter Twist has been well posted up in the history between the 16th century and the 20th century conducted strict checks on local customs, dressing details, sailing skills, military affairs and other perspectives involved in the film. The attitude of intensive cultivation has been integrated in Pirates of the Caribbean I: The Curse of the Black Pearl and extended in Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man's Chest; Pirates of the Caribbean III:
At World's End, Pirates of the Caribbean IV: On Stranger Tides and Pirates of the Caribbean V: Dead Men Tell No Tales, making a series of films highly recognised.
Nevertheless, efforts made by Disney in adapting other recreation facilities into films did not turn out well except for Pirates of the Caribbean. A film adapted from another ride “Ghost House” which was produced at almost the same time of Pirates of the Caribbean only earned a box office of US$180 million. Considering the over 90 million dollar film cost, the Ghost House played by Eddie Murphy was far from success. In 2015, another facility in Disneyland called “Tomorrowland” that features an imaginary future world was also adapted into a film of the same name. Even though it was directed by Oscar winner Bradley Bird and starred George Clooney, it earned a box office of only US$ 200 million dollars with an investment of US$ 190 million. The film became one of the worst flops for Disney. Because of this, perhaps, Pirates of the Caribbean with five sequels is considered “a unique case in business.”
Fascinating, Weird Captain Jack
Why is Pirates of the Caribbean the only successful one among all these films adapted from recreation facilities? An important cause lies in that neither Jim Elvis played by Eddie Murphy nor Frank Walker played by George Clooney has more personal charm and topicality than Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow. It can even be said that Johnny Depp contributes a lot towards the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The primary script of screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio were “straight and narrow.” They didn't plan to make the film into a fantastic adventure for kids, and the character Jack Sparrow in the script was far from the enchantingand weird one that appeared on the screen. At first, director Gore Verbinski and leading actor Johnny Depp wondered if such a crazy character would work. Captain Jack on the screen has learned from some rock singer Keith Richards and a famous cartoon character skunk “Pepe Le Pew.” Johnny Depp not only imitated behaviours of Keith Richards, but also borrowed a lot of inspiration including smoky eyes, consecutive beads on the hair, crushed teeth and skull ring. Audiences see piratecompletely different from the obsolete. It is all based on all the image he created, together with cunning character, glib style and swaying walking posture of Jack Sparrow. The Johnny Depp performanceearned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Interestingly enough, Johnny Depp invited Keith Richards to act as the father of Jack Sparrow in the film. His dream came true in Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man's Chest, which explains the image of Jack Sparrow.
Pirates of the Caribbean I: The Curse of the Black Pearl is regarded as a transitional work for Johnny Depp who became a super star with a worldwide influence. Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man's Chest indicates a start of the climax of his career. Two years before and after the Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man's Chest was released on the screen, Johnny Depp participated in two successive films directed by Tim Burton namely Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
The cooperation between two filmmakers with strong styles makes them a couple of “model partner” in Hollywood. However, Gore Verbinski hold a view that Pirates of the Caribbean will “sink” if it relies too much on Depp's performance . After the completion of three films, Gore Verbinski bowed out of the series. Rob Marshall directed Pirates of the Caribbean IV: On Stranger Tides. Perhaps due to the director change, the mystifying behaviours of Captain Jack weakened. Instead, the beautiful mermaids in the film was most impressive. Nevertheless, Pirates of the Caribbean IV: On Stranger Tides still gained worldwide box office over one billion dollars.
Pirates On Screen
It can be argued that Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the most successful pirate films. It is not the first one to be themed with pirates, nor will it be the last one. As early as in 1940, The Sea Hawk, directed by Michael Curtiz, told a story of pirates in the 17th century and Errol Flynn was starred as the leading role who always showed up as a sea hero. In 1945, Captain Kidd was released. Adapted from real pirates in the history, Captain Kidd realised great artistic achievements and was nominated for an Oscar. After that, films with pirates as leading roles became popular, including Blackbeard and Cutthroat Island, whose artistry and influence were not as successful. After the Crimson Pirate in 1952, not one decent pirate film was ever seen.
The lack of pirate films does not indicate a lack of “pirate” image on the screen. In Peter Pan, Captain Hook played an important role as the most important villain although he was
not the leading role. In 1991, Captain Hook adapted from a classic children's book Peter Pan was released, jointly played by Robin Williams and Max Hoffman, having earned attention to the story of middle-aged “Peter Pan.” In the film, “Peter Pan” played by Robin Williams married and settled down. Captain Hook played by Max Hoffman showed up and kidnapped their kids on their way to see their grandma. To save his kids, Peter Pan eventually retrieved his role and went back to Neverland for a decisive battle with his past enemy.
There are a many versions for “Peter Pan” and Captain Hook. Besides the cartoon in 1953, Peter Pan directed by
P. J. Hogan and released in 2003 is also a film with a wide influence. The fairy tale telling about growth and friendship was widely recognised by the audiences when two litter actors Rachel Hurd-wood and Jeremy Sumpter became well known owing to their excellent performance in the film. In 2015, a prequel of PAN: Every Legend Has a Beginning was released on the screen, attracting the participation of many accomplished actors including Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara. It starred Levi Miller as Peter Pan. But the plot where Peter Pan and Captain Hook fought Blackbeard together was surprising. Who could ever imagine that two rivals actually fought monsters as a team?
Besides Peter Pan, Treasure Island was also a “rich ore” for being adapted into pirate films. Treasure Island is an adventure novel created by Robert Louis Stevenson, telling a story in the mid-18th century where a British young man Jim went to the Treasure Island to hunt for treasure after finding a treasure map. Captain John and his followers account for a considerable length of the novel. Over the decades, the novel has been adapted into Hollywood films so often that there are now numerous versions. The film of the same name directed by Steve Barron in 2012 is most recent. In 2014, a TV series named Black Sails was released as the “prequel” adapted from Treasure Island. Themed with pirates, Black Sails adopted realistic styles instead of the magic color of Pirates of the Caribbean although it came after Pirates of the Caribbean. Black Sails has achieved the “strongest lineup” in cinema's pirate history where Captain Flint, onelegged sailor Long John Silver, first mate Billy and Ben Gunn show up in the TV series, in addition to historical figures including pirates “Blackbeard,” Charles Vane, “Calico Jack” and Anne Bonny. The TV series has all the pirate elements including hook, artificial leg, scimitar, treasure as well as w skull and crossbones. Many audiences who are obsessed with pirate stories claim to be satisfied because they can enjoy everything about pirates in one TV show.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
The Sea Hawk
PAN: Every Legend Has a Beginning