Gabrielle’s review published on Letterboxd:
Drink up, me hearties, yo-ho!
This is truly nostalgic. It was the first pirate movie I've ever seen, and it's as modern as it is traditional. We have it all here: the evil cursed villainous captain, ship battles, sword fights, the boy torn between law and piracy, the cursed treasure... What really makes Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl stand out, though, is its protagonist. I still remember exactly how I reacted when Jack Sparrow first came into scene.
One of the finest examples of reinvention inside traditionalism is in the precise construction of this film's first act up until we are introduced to Sparrow. The movie starts off with a prologue, which gives us a taste of the thematic tone of its tale, but more importantly, presents some classic figures of pirate culture and mythology: the old, scary and dark ship; the golden treasure; the british officers with their disdain for pirates; the royalty; and the iconography of the skull, present in the gold coin and in the ship's black flag, which is the most typical pirate flag possible, the white skull with a sword and a bone crossed beneath it. Proceeding to the present, we are better introduced to the archetypes of the cast: the noble and beautiful daughter of the Royalty, with her hand promised in an arranged marriage; the humble blacksmith who has known her since childhood and loves her ever since then; the honorable Commodore who fights for the Nation... and finally, in one of the most iconic introducing shots of contemporary cinema, our protagonist. A pirate Captain, standing on the mast of his ship, coming from the horizon towards the shore of this place where our story shall begin, accompanied by his adventurous fanfare. So far, the most traditional pirate film one could possibly conceive... Up until the next shot reveals us that this ship is actually a disgraced boat filled with holes and flooding with water. The Captain descends and pointlessly tries to get rid of the water with a bucket, revealing a weird, effeminate body language in the process. Eventually he returns to the top of the mast, and the vessel proceeds sinking until it reaches the harbor just in time for our Captain to be in the exact perfect height for him to just step into it. This isn't such a traditional tale after all. The iconography of the pirate Captain was just completely shattered before our eyes, and it is precisely at this moment that Pirates of the Caribbean reveals its uniqueness, and plants the seeds for what would come to become the most iconic pirate movie franchise in the history of cinema.
Gore Verbinski is a fucking master.