Cin­e­matic Ad­ven­tures of Caribbean Pi­rates

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Pan Yingzhao, pol­ished by Png Yu Fung

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.

Dis­ney’s Gam­ble

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

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