MOTW: Why "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" Is a Fan Favorite

Photo Credit: Buena Vista Pictures
January 20th, 2014

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" is the first installment of the hugely successful Pirates of the Caribbean series, and its original theatrical release was in 2003. Helmed by Disney, the original script was developed by Jay Wolpert, who also wrote the script for The Count of Monte Cristo. The movie was inspired by the wildly popular Disney attraction of the same name and has proven to be so passionately embraced by fans that the attraction at the Disney theme parks was remodeled to more closely resemble the movies. The movie stars Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, a somewhat bumble of a pirate who, through dumb luck, always seems to come out ahead. He partners with Will, a young apprentice played by Orlando Bloom, to rescue Will's love Elizabeth from the evil Captain Barbosa, who has also stolen Sparrow's ship, The Black Pearl.

Clearly, Sparrow has an ulterior motive for helping Will — getting his ship back. The ship and its inhabitants, however, were cursed to sail for all eternity after stealing a cursed treasure. The movie culminates with a duel over treasure and The Black Pearl, an end that perfectly sets the stage for subsequent sequels. However, there are many reasons besides its captivating plot that guarantee "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" will always endure as a fan favorite.

Association with a Favorite Attraction

The Disney theme parks are some of the most visited attractions in the world. "Pirates of the Caribbean" had a built-in audience because of its association with the famed ride of the same name. Hordes of fans flocked to see the movie to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between the movie and the ride. Those fans enjoyed — and continue to enjoy — the thrill of seeing scenes and characters, such as the famous jail scene in which a trio of pirates attempt to bribe a dog to give them the keys to their cell, that they remember fondly from the original ride.

It Appeals to a Wide Audience

Although it initially appears easy to write "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" off as an action adventure film, it combines several genres to create a film that appeals to a wide audience. It is part action adventure, part romantic comedy, part drama and part thriller. The audience experiences a wide range of emotions throughout the films duration, and the roller coaster effect of combining so many genres simulates the feeling of riding a real amusement park ride.

An Incredible Cast Portraying Memorable Characters

Johnny Depp is arguably one of the most beloved actors of his era He appeals to both young and old audiences alike. He is also well-respected as a character actor who goes to extremes to slip into his roles, and the role of Jack Sparrow is no exception. In fact, Depp had his teeth capped to create the imperfect but alluring smile that made the character of Captain Jack Sparrow an instant classic. Equally attractive Orlando Bloom was riding the high of the Lord of the Rings trilogy when Pirates of the Caribbean was first released. His role as Legolas positioned him perfectly to play the young swashbuckling hero Will Tuner. Keira Knightly was also an up and coming actress when the movie debuted She has since been a staple member of the Hollywood A list. Geoffrey Rush, already an Academy Award winning actor, sealed the credibility of the already strong cast. In short, the key actors cast in the movie have all enjoyed enduring acting careers. They created characters that continue to endure as much as they have.

Well-Balanced Mood and Tone

In simple terms, the "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" is fun to watch. Indeed, creating a movie based on a popular and much loved amusement park attraction without taking it over the top is a fine line to walk. Despite this challenge, the film manages to be fun and believable by not taking itself too seriously. In fact, there are several scenes in which the movie pokes fun at itself. Johnny Depp's deadpan portrayal of a pirate who is completely unaware of his own ridiculousness results in an anti-hero for which audiences can cheer. Even comedic scenes in which one of the cursed pirates frequently loses an eye and must search for it keep the potentially heavy supernatural element of the movie light-hearted and fun.

These are just a handful of a plethora of reasons for the endurance of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl." The movie is much greater than the sum of its parts. Its many appealing qualities have come together to bring the world a classic that will stand forever as a fan favorite.